Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Help defeat recreation fee increases

The Sawtooth National Forest has proposed new recreation fees—nine new fee recreation sites and increased fees at six sites. The Boise National Forest has one new proposal (mostly developed campgrounds). The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act requires advance public notice. My understanding is that appropriate and specific U.S. Forest Service news releases will soon appear in local papers. This is important as the general public cannot be expected to read the Federal Register with their morning coffee.

The bottom line is, no new fee sites or increased fees may be charged unless the Idaho Recreation Advisory Committee approves those changes. What's more, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act clearly states there must be documented public support for doing so. The RecRac meeting is Feb. 5 in Boise.

Millions of Americans believe the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act should be repealed. To that end, please contact your Idaho congressional delegation to join with Sen. Mike Crapo to support Montana Sen. Baucus' bill to repeal it. Sen. Crapo deserves much credit here.

Moderate fees at highly developed campgrounds and boat ramps with potable water, paved roads, toilets, etc. are the only place fees are justified. Oppressive backcountry fees to take a hike, ride your horse, pedal your bike or float a wild river are outrageous.

Get involved now for no new fee sites and fee repeal. It's your public land heritage. Recreation fee site increases make little sense in the current tough economic situation. You can make the difference with the RecRec approval committee!

Scott Phillips


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