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mike_m

Fee Demo Limited to National Parks only

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copied from the Mounties message board

 

SENATE COMMITTEE REJECTS PERMANENT FEE DEMO FOR FOREST SERVICE, BLM, AND USFWS.

 

PASSES BILL FOR NATIONAL PARKS ONLY.

 

Grassroots Effort Moves Parks Fee Legislation

 

In what is being called a 'remarkable victory,' opponents of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program are today celebrating what they see as the beginning of the end of recreation fees on the National Forests and other public lands.

 

Despite enormous pressure from the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to make the Fee Demo program permanent for the National Parks, Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee this morning unanimously voted to pass S. 1107, the Recreational Fee Authority Act (Senator Craig Thomas, R-WY), which makes recreation fees permanent for the National Parks only. The bill will allow Fee Demo to lapse for the BLM, US Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service.

 

Fee-opponents in recent days had flooded Senate offices with faxes and phone calls, expressing their general acceptance of park fees and their adamant opposition to fees for recreation on lands managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

 

Opponents of recreation user fees came together to prevent Thomas' legislation from being amended and to ensure that it would be moved out of committee as a 'parks only' bill. Gale Norton, Secretary of Interior, lobbied Senators hard in an effort to included permanent fee authority for the other three federal agencies within the Fee Demo program.

 

“Senator Thomas and Senator Craig (R-ID), Chair of the public lands subcommittee, as well as all Senators on Committee, did an excellent job protecting their constituents ownership of these public lands.” Said Robert Funkhouser President of Western Slope NoFee Coalition.

 

Another long time opponent of these fees, Kitty Benzar, co-founder of the WSNFC said: "The Tide has turned, and with a growing groundswell for ending this ill-conceived recreation fee program, it is becoming every more clear that we will soon see the end of fees to take a hike in the woods."

 

The Fee Demo program in the Forest Service, BLM, and USFWS has been recognized as a failure in terms of public acceptance and financial viability. Recent administrative changes to enforcement procedures particularly within the BLM, such as increasing penalties for being on public land without a pass to $5,000, have fueled the growing Fee Revolt taking place across the nation.

 

Contact:

Robert Funkhouser, WSNFC

802-867-2298

 

Kitty Benzar, WSNFC

970-259-4616

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:highfives:

 

You know, in all the years since its inception, I never bought a Trail Park Pass, though I got one for free once for doing trail work. That's a good $200+ saved. Let's hope this announcement is for real.

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AHS

 

The FY 2004 Interior budget included a provision to extend the recreation Fee Demo program for 15 months through December 2005. The program was set to expire in October 2004.

 

This info was prior to the passage of S.1007. It appears that the Fee Demo for BLM and Forest Service land will expire in October 2004. Interior controls the National Park system.

 

fruit.gifbigdrink.gif

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i aint one for politeness. but i reckon a 'thank you' to all members of 'the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee' and to local reps would be kina smart. anyone know the emails or how to get it?

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i aint one for politeness. but i reckon a 'thank you' to all members of 'the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee' and to local reps would be kina smart. anyone know the emails or how to get it?

Thats a great idea, I dont know the emails but maybe a call to them. phone #'s I'm sure they only hear about people complaining and dont always get positive feedback. Does anyone know the email addresses?

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It appears that the Fee Demo for BLM and Forest Service land will expire in October 2004.

If this is true, it will be interesting to see just how much enforcement there is of, say, the Forest Pass at trailheads. I would expect fairly widespread noncompliance long before the actual expiration.

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ReDoubt:

 

You could be correct...and also we MAY see the Forest Service Personnel stop trying to enforce it. Based on a cost benefit analysis i could see local mangers begin to decide not to enforce it given the costs associated with an ending program.

 

It'll be interesting. I'm sure some individual Forest Service Law Enforcement types are glad to see it go. I bet it was a real pain for them.

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It appears that the Fee Demo for BLM and Forest Service land will expire in October 2004.

If this is true, it will be interesting to see just how much enforcement there is of, say, the Forest Pass at trailheads. I would expect fairly widespread noncompliance long before the actual expiration.

 

I NONCOMPLY every trip I take!!! grin.gif

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Don't you mean it was an ill-conceived program for its conception? yellaf.gif

Wouldn't it be an ill-conceived plan from its inception?

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Not to rain on anyone's parade, but remember the stupid psa with the cartoon "bill" on the steps of the capital trying to become a law?

 

S1107 has been voted out of comittee. It still needs a full floor vote. the house has their version that has to go through the same process. then it probably gets attached to some giant piece of legislation that then has to go to conference. then that has to pass both houses. At any one of these steps this can get derailed.

 

good news for sure thumbs_up.gif, but a long way to go yet.

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jja:

 

I'm not sure that you are correct. In fact, I'm fairly sure you are incorrect on this one.

 

There is no extension in the Bill for the Fee Demo on Forest Service or BLM land, only in National Parks. (not totally precise but you get the point). The present system on FS and BLM lands expires in October of 2004. There is no bill to renew or extend it. (Remember, it has always been a Fee Demonstration plan, not a permanent plan which must be voted out. It has kept itself in existence by affirmative votes prior to each expiration.)

 

So the two outcomes are that the bill could die, in which case there is no Fee Demo on FS and BLM lands after October 2004, or the bill is made into law, in which case the Fee Demo on FS and BLM lands after October 2004.

 

The bill (more or less) cannot be altered, unless it goes back to committee. (Which is possible, but unlikely. The votes are usually secured prior to putting the bill on the floor). So in a round about way, Fee Demo on FS and BLM lands after October 2004 is dead by not being renewed. There is no need for this bill to pass or fail.

 

Anyone know anything different? Anyone familiar with procedure in altering a bill out of committee? I think it needs a super majority to do so. . ..right? Am I missing something here?

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Rodchester,

I didn't consider the point you make. I hope you're right that there is a sunset provision in the original legislation that means: no bill = no fee demo.

 

One other alternative though if this dies, might be a last minute extension, with the intention of revisiting this later. Other than the departments themselves (FS, BLM) who is pushing the reauthorization of the demo program? Is there a powerful committe chair out there that can wheel and deal favors to bring this back?

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Recall it was a DEMONSTRATION Program that automatically expires at the end of a set term. The present term expires or lapses in October of 2004. It dies unless it is extended (or turned into permanent law). I guess yuou could cal it a sunset provision. Though I'd say it was supposed to just be a test piece.

 

A last minute extension is unlikely. It would have to come out of committee as a whole new bill. This year they are too busy to screw around with it. Many have elections to worry about.

 

As far as a powerful committee chair goes, I doubt it. I don't know who the chair is on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee (but admittedly I'm not up on who's-who like I used to be). This was being pushed by Senator Thomas, R-WY and Senator Craig R-ID. Yes, that's right Rs. (Many western Rs tend to have deep Libertarian streaks). “Senator Thomas and Senator Craig (R-ID), Chair of the public lands subcommittee, as well as all Senators on Committee, did an excellent job protecting their constituents ownership of these public lands.” Said Robert Funkhouser President of Western Slope NoFee Coalition. Senator Craig is a sub-committee chair, not the committee chair. But it sounds like he’s got the support of many.

 

I seriously doubt that any non-government lobby groups like Access Fund, Rails to Trails, AHS, or others were for it. I think the only ones for it were BLM and FS, maybe a few other government agencies were pitching in to support their brothers.

 

But concern is correct, its the government, fucking it up is always possible, if not likely.

Edited by Rodchester

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This was being pushed by Senator Thomas, R-WY and Senator Craig R-ID. Yes, that's right Rs. (Many western Rs tend to have deep Libertarian streaks).

 

Hey I'm an "R" too wave.gif We do do the right thing now and again smile.gif

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I meant that somewhat tongue and cheek. many here on CC.com se things in black-n-white when many of us are grey.

 

I'm not anti R at all. Not anti D either. The Rs did the right thing here, that's for sure.

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I hate to rain in the joy and jubilation, but i am afraid that jja is right on this. If the house passes a bill that differs from the senate bill which was reported out of committee without the fee demo program, then the two conflicting bills will be resolved in a conference committee. The conference committee could and i emphasize could, but the fee demo for national forests and BLM lands back into effect. Hopefully the House will have he courage to follow the senate lead on this one but I am not at all confident of that given the tendency of the house.

 

I haven't done much research on line but if you visit http://www.americanwhitewater.org/archive/article/1098/ there is discussion of the need to make sure similar language appears in the house bill. The Senate bill is just one step on a long trail to get rid of the fee demo program

 

Ted

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