The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service recently announced that it was removing hundreds of day-use sites from its recreational fee program, determining that the sites did not meet requirements outlined by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA).
“Recreation on federal lands has grown tremendously over the past several years, and the rec-fee program has been a valuable tool for allowing forest managers to meet visitor demands for enhanced visitor facilities and services,” said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth in a press release. “The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act raises the bar for sites to qualify for charging fees so that the public can enjoy more amenities at such sites.”
The REA, signed into law last December by President Bush, permits federal land management agencies to continue charging fees at campgrounds, rental cabins and other high-impact recreation areas on federal lands.
The majority of fees are reinvested at the site where they were collected to operate, maintain and enhance service, such as trails, toilet facilities, boat ramps and interpretive exhibits.
Since enactment, all Forest Service units have reviewed their current fee sites and determined whether or not they meet requirements as outlined under REA.
As a result, approximately 500 day-use sites, such as trailheads and picnic areas, will be removed this year from the program because they do not meet the qualifications of a fee site, which include having designated developed parking, a permanent toilet facility and security services.
The Forest Service said it “will continue to implement the provisions of REA in a careful manner and in coordination with those who enjoy recreation activities to achieve the greatest degree of public satisfaction possible.”