Congress Extends “Fee Demo”
The U.S. Congress has passed a law that will extend the “Fee Demo” program on public lands for at least a decade, making it likely that $5 daily fees will be charged at hundreds of trailheads on National Forest and BLM lands. Congressman Ralph Regula, a Republican from Ohio, attached the provision for the Fee Demo to an omnibus appropriations bill for the federal government. That bill passed last night.
The Recreational Fee Demonstration Program, launched on a limited basis in 1996, raises about $170 million annually for the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Interior. As part of the new law, a multi-agency “America the Beautiful Pass” will be available for $85 to $100 a year. Critics call the land-use fees a form of double taxation and have vowed to seek repeal of the measure in the next Congress.