The Recreation Fee Program

In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA), which allows the government to charge a fee for recreation use of public lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

What is the Recreation Enhancement Act?

The Recreation Enhancement Act allows the government to charge a fee for recreational use of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Park Service (NPS) and the Forest Service (USFS). It is important to note that bureaus and agencies will not charge fees for all recreational use of public lands.

The majority of the fees collected will be reinvested back into the collection site to enhance visitor services and reduce the backlog of maintenance needs for recreation facilities such as trail maintenance, toilet facilities, boat ramps, hunting blinds, and interpretive signs and programs. Bureaus and agencies may not use recreation fees to pay for biological monitoring of threatened and endangered species. 

The law differentiates among the participating bureaus and agencies. The NPS and FWS units in the National Wildlife Refuge System may charge entrance fees. The other participating bureaus and agencies may charge "standard amenity fees" where specific criteria are met. The FWS and NPS may also charge "expanded amenity fees" for use of a specialized facility, equipment, or service. The other bureaus and agencies may charge "expanded amenity fees" in those areas where additional amenities are provided, such as boat launches, rental cabins, electrical hookups, dump stations, enhanced interpretive services, reservations, transportation, swimming facilities, and picnicking. A special recreation permit fee will also be allowed for specialized recreation uses such as group activities, recreation events and motorized vehicle use. 

The Act provides for public input into the development of the recreation fees through the establishment of Recreation Resource Advisory Committees for all lands managed by the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. All participating bureaus and agencies will involve the public in many aspects of the Recreation Fee Program.