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Bill would revamp federal recreational fee structures

Fee structures charged by federal recreational agencies would be rearranged under legislation just introduced in the House. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) introduced the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 5204) last week. The bill became available online on the congressional website on Saturday, July 27, 2014.

Bishop introduced the bill with no cosponsors. It was referred to the committees on Natural Resources (NR) and Agriculture. Bishop chairs the NR Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulation.

The bill would make a series of amendments to the recreational fee structures used by the United States Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc. Many of the changes are technical or concern definitions (who constitutes a “recreational service provider,” for instance). The language “standard amenity recreation fee or expanded amenity recreation fee” would be replaced with “day use fee or amenity fee.”

The bill would clarify academic exemptions to fee requirements, allowing them specifically for programs involving academic credit when a fee waiver has previously been approved, instead of just for academic purposes by educational institutions.

And you might not be able to ride your motorcycle or snowmobile onto federal recreational land without paying an entrance fee. The bill would classify these as vehicles subject to entrance fees if you ride them in. The bill also would allow one fee to cover two sites if they are less than half a mile apart.

The bill would give government agencies six months to compile a list of fee sites and publish it in the Federal Register, with a 60-day public comment period to follow. The bill also calls for inflation adjustments for the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass every three years, with the price change rounded in five dollar increments. (The bill doesn't say up, down or the nearest.) Members of the military could get free passes and discounts on amenity fees.

Of fees collected, a maximum of five percent could be used for administration and 20 percent on collection.

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