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Fee Demo program looses to grass roots outrage


Dear NoFee Supporters - WE MUST BE VIGILANT!

AZ NoFee Coalition

We are in a critical hour with Fee Demo. It is now apparent that the tide has turned and support for Fee Demo is rapidly decreasing while support for terminating Fee Demo is the strongest it’s ever been. This is 100% due to the efforts of citizens like yourself.

Unfortunately, the unanimous vote by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to pass S1107 did not terminate Fee Demo by itself. This vote was just the first in a series.

However the vote gives us the clearest indication, since opposition to Fee Demo began in 1996, that Fee Demo can and will be terminated if enough of us get involved!!! The vote has given us an opportunity. It has opened a door for us that till now, we have only been able to knock on.

Thus we urge you to not let this opportunity pass you by. We urge each and every single one of you to join us in pulling that door open wider and wider and to join us in making the end of Fee Demo a reality!!

Now is the time to build momentum around this campaign. Please spread the word about our efforts and victories to friends, family, coworkers, climbing partners, your hiking, biking, off-roading, hunting and fishing buddies, as well as complete strangers.

Please urge others to join our email list and get involved. And most importantly for a fully volunteer organization, we need volunteers!!!!! Whatever time or abilities you have, we welcome and appreciate them. Please contact us ASAP to find out how you can help make the end of Fee Demo a reality.

And Remember: Only You Can Prevent Forest Fees!!



Wild Wilderness
248 NW Wilmington Ave.,
Bend, OR 97701

Contact: Scott Silver, Wild Wilderness 541-385-5261
Robert Funkhouser, WSNFC, 802-867-2298
Alasdair Coyne, Keep the Sespe Wild, 805-921-0618

In what is being called a ‘remarkable victory,’ opponents of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program are today celebrating what they see as the beginning of the end of recreation fees on the National Forests and other public lands.

Fee-opponents in recent days had flooded Senate offices with faxes and phone calls, expressing their general support for National Park fees and their adamant opposition to fees for recreation on lands managed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Fee-opponents said they recognized the fundamental differences between the National Parks and other public lands. They said that while entrance fees were acceptable for the parks, such fees were anathema when charged for a walk in the woods or forms of undeveloped recreation.

On Wednesday morning, the Senate Energy & Resources Committee advanced legislation from Senator Craig Thomas (The Recreation Fee Authority Act, S1107) to permanently authorize the collection of entrance fees for National Parks and allow those fees to be retained and spent where they are collected. Entrance fees have long been charged at National Parks, but without the authority of the fee-demonstration program, those fees could not be used where they had been collected. The passage of S1107 will allow recreation fees charged since 1996 by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and US Fish and Wildlife Service to lapse when the current Fee-Demo authorization ends on December 31, 2005.

Opponents of recreation user fees came together to prevent Thomas’ legislation from being amended and to ensure that it would be moved out of committee as a ‘parks only’ bill. Secretary of Interior Gale Norton had lobbied Senators hard in her effort to included permanent fee authority for 5 federal agencies within the Thomas Bill.

“For a totally grassroots effort to prevail over the Secretary of Interior is an accomplishment of incredible proportion” said Scott Silver, Executive Director of Wild Wilderness and a long time opponent of the fee-demonstration program. “We went toe-to-toe with some powerful players and this time the people won”, adds Silver.

Another long time opponent of these fees, Alasdair Coyne, of Keep the Sespe Wild said: “The tide has turned and with a growing groundswell for ending this ill-conceived recreation fee program it is becoming ever more clear that we will soon see the end of fees to take a hike in the woods.”

“Senator Thomas and Senator Craig (R-ID), Chair of the public lands subcommittee as well as all Senators on Committee did an excellent job protecting their constituents’ ownership of these public lands,” said Robert Funkhouser of Western Slope NoFee Coalition.

The Fee Demo program in the Forest Service, BLM and USFWS has been recognized as a failure in terms of public acceptance and financial viability. Recent administrative changes to enforcement procedures, particularly for the BLM, have fueled the growing Fee Revolt taking place across the nation.



TraditionalMountaineering Updates
Subscribers and Friends:
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will now vote, on Wednesday morning 2/11/04, on Sen. Thomas’s (R-WY) Recreational Fee Authority Act of 2003 (S1107).
S. 1107 calls for making recreation user fees permanent in the National Parks only. Although this bill would allow the program to expire in the Forest Service, BLM, and US Fish and Wildlife Service, there is a possibility that one or more Senators will introduce an amendment that will specifically kill Fee Demo in those three agencies.  (We must help make that happen.)
Interior Secretary Gale Norton is putting enormous pressure upon Senate Energy Committee members to add into S.1107 the same language that appears in Congressman Regula’s (R-OH) atrocious fee legislation titled “Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act”, HR 3283.
HR 3283 would make recreation fees permanent for the NPS, USFS, BLM, USFWS and the (newly-added) Bureau of Reclamation.  It would also make failure to pay the fees punishable by 6 months in jail plus a $5,000 fine!
In fact, the Dept. of Interior just announced on 2/6/04 that it has administratively authorized provisions from HR3283 - such as ticketed individuals guilty till proven innocent, owners of ticketed cars responsible for tickets, and a $5,000 fine for non-compliance.  The new BLM fines will start on 4/6/04. We believe that the Forest Service and USFWS will follow suit. This administrative action, by the Interior Department, completely bypasses the Congress. Fee Demo was started as an appropriations rider and has been extended five times through the appropriations process. Now the land management agencies are moving towards permanence by administrative means. This is not what our great nation was built on.
Just take a brief moment to click on the page made available by the Arizona No Fee Coalition:  You can send the following message with a click or two. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
"Dear Senator:
Please vote in support of S. 1107, the Recreation Fee Authority Act, as it is written.  Please do not support the addition of any other agencies other than the National Park Service, to S. 1107.
Please also vote to support any amendment to S. 1107 that may be introduced, which adds language that ends recreation fees for the US Forest Service, BLM and US Fish & Wildlife Service.
I strongly oppose the decision by the Dept. of Interior, in the Federal Register on 2/6/04, to make public use of public land punishable by $5,000.00 fines.  I look to your
leadership to end Fee Demo now.
Thank you."
Click here:  You can send the above message with a click or two. LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
My thanks to Scott Silver and Bend's Wild Wilderness for the alert on the above!





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