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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 20 - June 26, 2001


Federal recreation fees may become permanent

Express Staff Writer

The Recreation Fee Demonstration Program on public lands could become a permanent recreation fee under legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate last week.

Sens. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, introduced the National Parks Stewardship Act on June 11. The bill would create permanent recreation fees for entering public lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service as soon as October 2002.

It also would place an emphasis on hiring "professionals with expertise in areas, such as business management" to work as National Park Service managers in a new "Professionals for Parks Program."

Locally, forest fees have been controversial. The Sawtooth National Forest charges $15 annually or $5 for three days to use selected trailheads on the Ketchum Ranger District and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

"It has been a tremendous, positive thing for us in terms of getting things done on the ground," Sawtooth National Forest Spokesman Ed Waldapfel said.

Those include improvements to several trailheads and installation of outdoor toilets across the forest.

During a June 4 visit with President George W. Bush to Everglades National Park in Florida, Graham pitched the new parks bill. The parks, he said, are struggling to keep up with more visitors and aging infrastructures. Permanent fees are part of the solution, he said.

The bill would permit fee collection for admission to an area, site or project. Between 60 percent and 80 percent of the money collected would be spent on the sites where the fees are collected.

The remaining amounts would become available for agency-wide expenses for recreation and environmental improvement projects, as well those to implement the program.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.