P.O. Box 135, Durango, CO 81302
DEAR PUBLIC LANDS SUPPORTER,
The day has finally arrived when we can begin to see the end of
access fees for public lands. A bill has been introduced in the
U.S. Senate, with bipartisan sponsorship, to repeal the Federal
Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, also known as the Recreation
Access Tax, or RAT.
Please take a few moments to celebrate, and pat yourself on the
back for all the effort over the last 10 years by every one of you
that has brought this about.
Then get ready to go to work. This landmark legislation is going
to require an all-out grassroots effort to achieve passage. We do
not yet have a bill number assigned, so hold off briefly from
contacting Congress, as having a number will be important when you
ask for their support.
We will be sending more details about the bill and how you can
help get it passed in the coming days and weeks.
THANK YOU for your support, which is what made this happen.
Kitty Benzar, President
Press Release of Senator Crapo
BAUCUS, CRAPO BILL WOULD NIX RECREATION FEES
Montana, Idaho Sens. Team Up To Repeal Recreation Access Tax
*Contact:* Susan Wheeler
Monday, December 10, 2007
Washington, DC -- The U.S. Forest Service and other federal
agencies would be blocked from charging Americans higher fees to
access their public lands under legislation introduced today by
two prominent Western lawmakers.
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today joined Finance Committee Chairman
Max Baucus (D-Montana) in introducing the much-anticipated Fee
Repeal and Expanded Access Act of 2007.
The bill would revoke authority given federal agencies, with the
exception of the National Park Service, in 2004 to institute new
fees and increase existing fees at campgrounds, trailheads, and
other public areas.
Specifically, the bill repeals the 2004-passed Federal Lands
Recreational Enhancement Act, sometimes called the recreational
access tax, and reinstates legislation dating back to 1965 that
limits the use of fees on public lands.
Baucus, a long-time critic of the fees, said the current system
amounts to double taxation.
"Americans already pay to use their public lands on April 15,"
Baucus said. "We shouldn?t be taxed twice to go fishing, hiking,
or camping on OUR public lands. It just doesn't make any sense.
That's why Mike and I are going to fight like the dickens to get
this bill passed."
The senators noted that both the Montana and Idaho State
Legislatures passed resolutions to repeal FLREA.
Crapo said, "As an outdoorsman and legislator, I have always
supported fair and reasonable access to our nation's public lands.
Mandatory user fees for access to many of those lands limits
accessibility to those who can afford the cost and results in a
"pay-to-play" system that is unacceptable. I also fully recognize
that we need to adequately fund recreation activities on federal
lands and will continue to fight in Congress to make sure the
funding needs of our public lands management agencies are met."
Debates have flared up in communities across the West as fees
began to rise after the 2004 bill was passed. Baucus said he hopes
his bill will help resolve those disputes.
Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition,
hailed the bill. Baucus worked closely with Benzar as well as the
late Robert Funkhouser, who recently passed away, in crafting the
"This bill will bring an end to a failed experiment that has for
10 years burdened Americans with a double tax and kept them away
from public lands they have always enjoyed, Benzar said. "I
applaud this bipartisan effort."
The Baucus-Crapo bill would:
Repeal the FLREA
Reinstate the fee authorities established by the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act
Reinstate the National Parks Pass system
Cap the amount that can be charged for entrance to national parks. Wes