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Forest Service expresses wishes for fee structure modifications

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The Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (REA) may be getting some modifications. A bill will soon be introduced in Congress to reauthorize it. At a hearing of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands & Environmental Regulation, Leslie Weldon, deputy chief of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) gave the administration's response to a draft bill.

The hearing took place on Friday, April 4. The law governs the fees USFS charges for recreational use of its facilities. USFS is not allowed to charge for admission to national forests but can charge recreational fees for using facilities. Money collected is supposed to be earmarked to maintain and improve the facilities at which it is collected.

REA is currently operating under a one-year reauthorization extension that expires at the end of September.

The draft bill would alter the fee system, including everything from public participation in the ways fees are set to USFS' reporting process. It would last five years. It would also include passes for veterans.

Weldon asked for permanent reauthorization. “Permanent authority provides stability for
the public and enables managers to implement long projects and enter into partnerships with outfitters, vendors, and communities who benefit from the program economically,” she stated.

You can read or watch the testimony at http://naturalresources.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=370652.

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