Campground and Fire Lookout Rental Fees Reviewed
VALLEJO, Calif., Jul. 3, 2008—The California Recreational Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) held a meeting June 24 and 25 in Redding to review a wide variety of potential fee changes at BLM and Forest Service recreational sites in California. The RRAC was created with the implementation of the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act. This Act which was signed into law in 2005, provides guidelines for charging fees at federal recreation sites. Congress made a significant effort to ensure that there would be public oversight of the fee development process as well as opportunities for the public to provide input. RRAC's are comprised of 11 members representing a balance of various user groups, environmental organizations, as well as local, state, and tribal representatives.
The meeting in Redding included a one-day field trip providing the RRAC members with the opportunity to view sites that are proposed for fee increases or changes, including areas that are free of charge and will remain free. In addition, the RRAC was able to see how recreation fees are used to improve and enhance recreation sites and services.
The actual proposals presented at the RRAC meeting included fee proposals from as far south as the Cleveland National Forest in southern California, all the way up to the Shasta Trinity National Forest in northern California. As federal budgets remain flat recreation fees have taken on a different role in the management of our public lands. For example, in 2007, the National Forests in California were able to manage recreation through an additional 7.56 million dollars provided through fee revenue. These funds helped to operate and maintain campgrounds, remove trash, install bear-proof garbage receptacles, replace toilets and much more. The Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act allows for a significant amount of the fees charged on public lands to stay with the managing unit and be used for enhancing the site and thus provide a more quality recreation experience for the visitor.
At this most recent meeting, the RRAC reviewed fees, many of which had not changed for as much as 10 years. Many of the increases for activities such as camping increased just a few dollars per site. The RRAC also saw the importance of keeping some locations open with no fee being charged at all and turned down new fee proposals for sites that were currently free of charge. These sites included a picnic area and fishing access on Shasta Lake as well as three campgrounds.
Bob Warren, RRAC chair stated, "The RRAC continues to take its responsibility of representing the public seriously and understands that this representation is an important component of ensuring the original legislation continues to be implemented, as originally passed by Congress."