Executive Director's Message by John May 7/30
Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act Reauthorization IntroducedHouse Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01) introduced H.R. 5204, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act of 2014. The bill will help expand and improve opportunities for public recreation on federal lands by updating how Federal agencies collect and spend Federal recreation fees authorized by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). The bill is scheduled for mark-up (approval) on Wednesday, July 30 by the full committee, the House Committee on Natural Resources. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) serves on this committee. IOGA and other Associations have been working very closely with David Brown of America Outdoors Association (AOA) who has taken a lead role in tracking and amending this legislation. Any Outfitter operating on Federal Public Lands needs to pay attention to their permit renewals and cost recovery. This bill has been heavily amended and is now in a form that IOGA and other outfitter organizations are endorsing. AOA has identified the following as key points of the bill:
- Defines recreation service provider: The term `recreation service provider' means any entity that provides any recreation service on Federal recreational lands and waters for which the provider charges a fee for the service. (The one loophole here is that groups claiming that their trips are “educational” and not recreational may seek an exemption from the recreation service provider permits when the rules are written.
- Revises recreation fees, creates day use fees (to replace the standard amenity fee) and amenity fees (expanded amenity fee). Day use fees include areas of concentrated public use.
- Allows the agencies to collect fees directly for some services to the public.
- Authorizes fees for groups, individuals (where permits are required), outfitters and guides and special events.
- Provides a waiver from NEPA for outfitting and guiding when the use has been previously analyzed and is similar and not substantially increased over the previous authorization.
- Allows one permit to be issued by a lead agency when trips cross multiple agency boundaries.
- Sets fees for outfitters as follows: C) Fee conditions.--The fee charged by the Secretary for a permit issued under paragraph (2)(B) (that outfitter permits) shall not exceed 3 percent of the recreational service provider's annual gross revenue for activities authorized by the permit, plus applicable revenue additions, minus applicable revenue exclusions or a similar flat per person fee. This definition should eliminate basing the fees on the total cost of the trip, including services delivered outside the Forest, for example.
- Authorizes a pilot program for fee credits for trail maintenance.
- Allows you to reveal the fees to the customer when you price your trips.
- Requires agencies to notify Congress and give public notice of fee sites.
- Every other year agencies take input on how the fees are being used.
- Any new or increased amenity and day use fees have to be approved by Congress.
- Grandfathers existing permits once the law passes. They remain in effect until they expire.
- Authorizes the use of outfitter and guide permit fees for permit administration and to be used to streamline permitting processes.
- Requires agencies to report fees by: A. total recreational fee revenue collected by type;