Guidelines For Public Involvement In Recreation Fees Published

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior published public involvement guidelines regarding federal recreation fees in the Federal Register on September 28, 2005. These final guidelines are the result of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) of December 2004 and cover five cooperating federal agencies: USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management and United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

The guidelines for all five agencies require that:

  • the public will be involved in decisions to establish new recreation fee areas;
  • the public will have opportunities to work with the agencies in recommending how the recreation fees collected at individual sites will be spent;
  • the agencies will report to the public annually on how collected fees have been spent; and
  • the relevant Secretary will publish a notice giving at least six months advance notice of the intent to collect fees at new sites.

The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are also required under FLREA to establish or expand committees called Recreation Resource Advisory Committees (RRACs) as the conduit for public involvement. The National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation are developing internal guidelines for expanding public involvement required by FLREA. An inter-agency working group is coordinating the effort, the BLM reports.

Agency guidelines will identify outreach efforts to encourage public involvement including recreation fee site visits, public meetings, focus groups, newsletters, and Web sites. Public involvement will also include sharing plans for establishment of any new recreation fee areas. The plans generally will contain: (1) a description of the proposed new recreation fee sites; (2) a financial analysis, including projected development, operating and maintenance costs and projected income; (3) an analysis of existing private and public facilities and services in the vicinity of the fee area with which the site might compete; and (4) a description of the procedures to be used to inform the public of how the fees collected at the area are spent.

Agency Contacts for More Information: Jonathan Stephens, Recreation and Heritage Resources Staff, USDA Forest Service, (202) 205-1701; Lee Larson, Bureau of Land Management Recreation Fee Program, (202) 452- 5168; Jane Anderson, National Park Service, (202) 513-7087; Rebecca Halbe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (703) 358-2365; or Bruce Brown, Bureau of Reclamation, (202) 513-0599.

For text of the Federal Register notice: [click here] .

For the text of Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act: [click here] .