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Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act

More and more people recreate on Federally managed lands and waters every year. Meeting the increasing needs of these visitors, delivering quality recreation, and protecting our natural and cultural resources has become challenging. To help address this issue, President Bush signed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA). REA permits federal land management agencies to charge use fees at campgrounds, high-impact recreation areas and at day-use sites that have certain facilities. REA defined the following fee categories:

Standard Amenity Fees

Examples: Picnic areas, developed trailheads, destination visitor centers, high impact recreation areas. Explanation: Typically, standard amenity fees are day use fees, often covered by a day or annual pass. Each site or area must contain six "amenities," which are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Expanded Amenity Fees

Examples: Campgrounds, highly developed boat launches and swimming areas and services like RV dump stations and reservation services.

Explanation: Provides direct benefits to individuals or groups.


Special Event Permits

Examples: Non-commercial fishing tournaments, houseboat launching/retrieving and special events. Explanation: Permits are issued when extra measures are required for natural and cultural resource protection, or the health and safety of visitors. They mayalso be used to disperse recreation use or help ensure that the number of visitors does not exceed the capacity of the facilities, lands or waters.

Recreation Enhancement Act Information

In December 2004, Congress enacted the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which gave federal agencies, including Reclamation, a long-term, multi-agency recreation fee program. Recreation fees provide crucial resources that allow the federal agencies to respond to increased demand on federal lands. The goal is to provide visitors with a quality recreation experience through enhanced facilities and services.

Reclamation Directives and Standards

Reclamation has developed Directives and Standards LND 01-02 that set forth the requirements for implementing and managing the REA fee program. This Directives and Standards provides direction to authorized Reclamation offices for collecting and retaining fees, and enhancement of designated recreation sites.

REA Implementation at New Melones Lake

In November 2007, New Melones Lake became Reclamation’s first designated REA site. New Melones now collects fees and retains a minimum of 80% of the fee revenue on-site to be used for the enhancement of recreation facilities and services and other public benefits. Previous fee authority required all revenues to be deposited into the Federal Treasury.

Costs to operate and maintain the developed facilities and services, and protect the natural and cultural resources at New Melones have increased substantially due to inflation and additional regulatory requirements, as well as costs to provide for expanding visitation as urban centers grow. Federal appropriations have not grown in response to the expanded needs, resulting in deferred maintenance, cutbacks in services and reduced ability to provide adequate resource protection.

By implementing REA and establishing appropriate use fees for both standard and expanded amenities, such as fees for boat launching, day use and RV dump station use, revenues will be generated and a portion retained for authorized expenditures at New Melones. Financial impacts to frequent users will be lessened by the Interagency Parks Pass program, augmented by site specific discount passes good only for use at New Melones. Special Recreation Use Permits are also included under REA, which enables retention of fees generated from Special Events.

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Last update: April 24, 2013

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