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Recreation Fees: Comments on the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, H.R. 3283

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1996, the Congress authorized an experimental initiative called the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program that provides funds to increase the quality of visitor experience and enhance resource protection. Under the program, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service--all within the Department of the Interior--and the Forest Service--within the U.S. Department of Agriculture--are authorized to establish, charge, collect, and use fees at a number of sites to, among other things, address a backlog of repair and maintenance needs. Also, sites may retain and use the fees they collect. The Congress is now considering, through H.R. 3283, whether to make the program permanent. Central to the debate is how effectively the agencies are using the revenues that they have collected. This testimony focuses on the potential effect of H.R. 3283 on the issues GAO raised previously in its work on the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. Specifically, it examines the extent to which H.R. 3283 would affect (1) federal agencies' deferred maintenance programs, (2) the management and distribution of the revenue collected, and (3) interagency coordination on fee collection and use."
Date: May 6, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recreation Fees: Information on Forest Service Management of Revenue from the Fee Demonstration Program

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Since 1996, federal land management agencies have collected over $900 million in recreation fees from the public under an experimental initiative called the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. The Forest Service's part was about $160 million. The authority to collect these fees expires at the end of fiscal year 2004. Central to the debate about whether to reauthorize the program is how effectively the land management agencies are using the hundreds of millions of dollars that the recreation fees have provided them. In April 2003, GAO reported on Forest Service management of the fee demonstration program. (See Recreation Fees: Information on Forest Service Management of Revenue from the Fee Demonstration Program, GAO-03-470 (Washington D.C.: Apr. 25, 2003)). This testimony is based on the work GAO conducted for the April 2003 report. Four issues are addressed: (1) how the Forest Service determines spending priorities for the revenues generated by the fee program, (2) how the agency has spent its fee demonstration program revenues, (3) what the agency is doing to measure the impact of the recreation fee revenues on reducing its deferred maintenance backlog, and (4) how it accounts for its fee demonstration program revenues."
Date: September 17, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recreation Fees: Demonstration Has Increased Revenues, but Impact on Park Service Backlog Is Uncertain

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the National Park Service's Recreational Fee Demonstration Program, focusing on the: (1) rate at which the Park Service spends revenue collected under the program in comparison with the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service; and (2) impact of the fee program on the Park Service's maintenance needs."
Date: March 3, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recreation Fees: Demonstration Program Successful in Raising Revenues but Could Be Improved

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the recreational fee demonstration program, focusing on: (1) ensuring that future revenues can be applied to the agencies' highest priority unmet needs; (2) coordinating fees between agencies at demonstration sites that are close to each other; (3) being more innovative in setting fees; and (4) assessing the effect of fees on specific segments of the population."
Date: February 4, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recreation Fees: Agencies Can Better Implement the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and Account for Fee Revenues

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In recent years, Congress has expressed concerns about the federal land management agencies' ability to provide quality recreational opportunities and reduce visitor confusion over the variety of user fees. In December 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) to standardize recreation fee collection and use at federal lands and waters. GAO was asked to determine (1) what the agencies have done to coordinate implementation of REA, (2) what agencies have done to implement REA, (3) the extent to which agencies have controls and accounting procedures for collected fees, (4) how projects and activities are selected to receive funding from fees, and (5) the extent of unobligated fund balances. To answer these objectives, GAO reviewed agency guidance, analyzed fee data, interviewed officials, visited 26 fee-collecting units, and administered a nationwide survey to 900 fee-collecting units."
Date: September 22, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recreation Fees: Management Improvements Can Help the Demonstration Program Enhance Visitor Services

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Congress authorized the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program to help federal land management agencies provide high-quality recreational opportunities to visitors and protect resources. The program focuses on recreational activities at the following four land management agencies: the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service. Under the fee demonstration program, participating agencies can collect fees at several sites and use them to (1) enhance visitor services, (2) address a backlog of needs for repair and maintenance, and (3) manage and protect resources. The agencies applied "entrance fees" for basic admission to an area and "user fees" for specific activities such as camping or launching a boat. Under the law, 80 percent of program revenue must be used at the site where it was collected. The rest may be distributed to other sites that may or may not be participating in the demonstration program. Some of the sites GAO surveyed experimented with innovative fee designs and collection methods, such as reducing fees during off-peak seasons and allowing visitors to use credit cards, but room for additional innovation exists, particularly in the areas of fee collection and coordination. The agencies also need to make improvement in three program management areas: evaluating their managers' performance in administering the fee program, developing information on which fee-collection and coordination practices work best, and resolving interagency management issues."
Date: November 26, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Recreation Fees: Information on Forest Service Management of Revenue from the Fee Demonstration Program

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Since 1996, federal land management agencies have collected over $900 million in recreation fees from the public under an experimental initiative called the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. Under the trial program, the Congress authorized the four federal land management agencies, including the Forest Service, to charge fees to visitors and to retain the revenues for use in addition to other appropriated funds. The Congress originally authorized the program for 3 years and has extended it several times. As Congress considers whether to extend the program or to make it permanent, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health asked GAO to address several questions about the Forest Service's administration of the program: (1) How are spending priorities determined for the revenues generated by the program? (2) How has the agency spent its fee demonstration program revenues? (3) What, if anything, is the agency doing to measure the impact of the recreation fee revenues on reducing the agency's deferred maintenance backlog? (4) How does the agency account for its fee demonstration program revenues?"
Date: April 25, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department