Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Joan Moody
For Immediate Release: Sept. 9, 2003

Recreational Fee Demonstration Program Enhances
Visitor Facilities and Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.- In testimony today before the Subcommittee on National Parks of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget Lynn Scarlett stated that S. 1107 should be amended to allow for a new interagency national pass, standardizing recreation fees, and forming partnerships with states and gateway communities. "Our suggested amendments to S. 1107 are the result of a great deal of analysis and discussion through the Interagency Recreation Fee Leadership Council," said Scarlett. "These concepts were developed from the lessons learned in administering the Fee Demo program." Assistant Secretary Scarlett recommended that in addition to the National Park Service, the permanent program should include the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA Forest Service. The creation of a new annual interagency pass would expand the National Parks Passport to cover all participating agencies and would consolidate the Golden Passes established under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. Consolidating these passes would decrease visitor confusion about various agency passes and shift the emphasis to recreation opportunities on federal lands, Scarlett testified.

In order to standardize recreation fees and minimize fee layering, a new system of "basic" and "expanded" recreation fees would be consistently applied across all agencies and would minimize fee layering by ensuring that the basic fee covers the primary attraction site. By developing partnerships with states and gateway communities, all can work together in concert to promote tourism and better serve visitors. Such efforts are consistent with Secretary Norton's "Four C's" - Communication, Consultation, and Cooperation, all in the service of Conservation.

The Fee Demo was developed in 1996 in direct response to the federal agencies' concern about growing backlog maintenance needs. The program allowed participating agencies to retain a majority of recreation fees at the site collected and reinvest those fees into enhancing visitor facilities and services. "A permanent recreation fee program enhances the Department's efforts to support the President's initiative to address the deferred maintenance backlog at our national parks," Scarlett said. "Authorization of a permanent program would allow the agencies to better serve visitors by making long-term investments, and creating more partnerships." Assistant Secretary Scarlett emphasized that while much has been learned from administering the Fee Demo program, the proposed permanent recreation fee program would be dynamic and responsive to new lessons.



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