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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2006
IDAHO LEGISLATURE PASSES PUBLIC LAND NO-FEE RESOLUTION
IDAHO SENATE JOINS HOUSE IN DEMANDING REPEAL OF THE FEDERAL LANDS RECREATION ENHANCEMENT ACT
The Idaho Senate joined the Idaho House of Representatives today in unanimously passing a resolution demanding the repeal of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). Under FLREA, access and user fees are being charged for hundreds of thousands of acres of public land nationwide. The Senate action came two days after the Senate’s Resource and Environment Committee unanimously approved House Joint Memorial 14 and just eight days after the Idaho house voted unanimously to approve the measure.
Idaho’s is the fourth state legislature to call for repeal of the FLREA, joining Colorado, Montana, and Oregon. A similar measure was approved by the Alaska House and is awaiting action by the Alaska Senate. The FLREA’s predecessor program, known as Fee Demo, was opposed by the legislatures of Oregon, California, Colorado, and New Hampshire, as well as dozens of county governments.
House Joint Memorial 14 states that in Idaho, a
largely rural state that is 60% federally-managed public land, “the fees imposed
by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act are a regressive tax that places
an undue burden on the people living in rural areas adjacent to or surrounded by
large areas of federal land and discriminates against lower-income and working
Idahoans by placing financial obstacles in the way of their enjoyment of public
HJM 14 goes on to say that “recreational fees constitute double taxation and bear no relationship to the actual costs associated with recreational use,” and that “the concept of paying fees to use public land is contrary to the idea that public land belongs to the people of the state and is land where every person is granted access and is welcome, a concept that has been and should remain in place.”
The legislature directs that the resolution be
sent to the Administration, key members of Congress and the entire Idaho
Congressional delegation including Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who chairs the
U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. Craig’s Subcommittee
oversees agency implementation of the FLREA.
Lead Senate sponsors were Senator David Langhorst (D-Boise) and Senator Clint Stennett (D-Ketchum). Representative George Eskridge (R-Dover) was the principal sponsor of HJM 14, which was co-sponsored by Representative Eric Anderson (R-Priest Lake) and Representative Dick Harwood (R-St Maries). Eskridge cited as one reason for his sponsorship his concern that the sections of the FLREA that were intended to restrict the unlimited fee authority in Fee Demo are not being complied with by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Eskridge’s concerns mirror those in a report published by the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, which revealed that the Forest Service and BLM are largely ignoring the restrictions in the FLREA. When the FLREA was attached as an earmark on an appropriations bill in December 2004, its sponsor, U.S. Representative Ralph Regula (R-OH) attempted to deflect criticism by citing the increased limitations in his bill compared to the unlimited fee authority that had existed in the unpopular Fee Demo program. The FLREA specifies that no entrance fee can be charged for Forest Service or BLM land, and that no fees can be levied merely for parking, for passing through public lands without using any facilities, or for access to dispersed backcountry areas.
But after surveying approximately 10% of over 4,500 fee sites, the WSNFC has already identified more than 300 that are not in compliance with the new law. The Site Survey report was released concurrently with an October 26, 2005, oversight hearing by the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Idaho U.S. Senator Larry Craig. In his opening statement at the hearing, Chairman Craig stated his long-time opposition to any kind of entrance fee for National Forests or BLM lands and speculated that implementation of the FLREA by the Forest Service and BLM “may have gotten off on the wrong foot. “ The Site Survey Report can be downloaded at www.WesternSlopeNoFee.org.
In listing his reasons for sponsoring the resolution, Eskridge also criticized the severe criminal penalties possible for failure to pay the access fees. Although first offenses are capped at a $100 fine, those who fail to pay acquire a Class A or B Misdemeanor federal criminal record and the penalty for subsequent offenses can range up to $100,000 and/or 1 year in jail. The driver, owner, and all passengers in a vehicle not displaying a pass are all presumed guilty.
Eskridge’s measure also criticizes the way the FLREA became law, noting that it “was not voted on separately in the United States House of Representatives and was not introduced in, did not have hearings in, and was not approved by the United States Senate, but instead was attached to the omnibus spending bill, H.R. 4818, by the 108th United States Congress, as an appropriation rider.”
WESTERN SLOPE NO-FEE COALITION
Robert Funkhouser, 802/235-2299, email@example.com
Kitty Benzar, 970/259-4616, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob- An important milestone was passed today when Idaho became the fourth state to call for repeal of the Recreation Access Tax. Pasted above is a news release explaining what happened and why this is so important.
--Scott Silver, Wild Wilderness, email@example.com, http://www.wildwilderness.org
Webmeister's note: Eskridge’s measure also criticizes the way the FLREA became law, noting that it “was not voted on separately in the United States House of Representatives and was not introduced in, did not have hearings in, and was not approved by the United States Senate, but instead was attached to the omnibus spending bill, H.R. 4818, by the 108th United States Congress, as an appropriation rider.”
See how the FLREA (Recreation Access Tax, the "RAT Tax") was created and
see why states with public lands are upset:
Read more . . .
Western Slope No Fee Coalition
Arizona No Fee Coalition
Fee Demo and Climbing Fees
Oregon legislature votes to repeal new federal Recreation Access Tax
Disney to offer "adventure tours" in Yellowstone - An Editorial
Fee Demo fees replaced by new Recreation Access Fees
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Fee Demo program made permanent through last minute political deal!
Reserve your next backcountry adventure!
Fees, forests don't always fit, by Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho
Congressman Greg Walden limits fee demo
Fee demo program discriminates against our poor folks
Fee Demo looses to grass roots outrage
Fee Demo Forest Pass dropped at 20 sites on the Deschutes National Forest!
Senator Regula's Fee Demo support and The Wilderness Center, Inc.
Senator Craig calls Fee Demo a failed program
Outdoor recreation in Oregon far from free
Oregon Field Guide: “Pay to Play on Public Land”
National Park Service plans climbing fees increase!
Fee demo rejected by USFS employees
Fee demo has "fallen short" - Senator Craig
Fee demo demonstrations
The Badlands Wilderness
Wilderness workshop for USDA Forest Service held by University of Idaho
BLM's UDRMP plans for Badlands deal with exploding public use
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OpEd - Dirt road through The Badlands must close
Photos of Road 8 damage sent to Commissioners
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The Badlands have unique interest for the hiker
BLM guidelines for Geocaching on public lands
Geocaching on Federal Forest Lands
OpEd - Geocaching should not be banned in the Badlands
Fee Demo groundwork may save Geocaching on our public lands
Protest of exclusion of Geocaching in Badlands WSA in BLM's UDRMP
BLM's UDRMP puts Bend's Badlands off limits to Geocaching
Deschutes County Commissioners hearing on Badlands Wilderness support
OHV use restricted in Upper Deschutes Resource Management Plan
Winter hiking in The Badlands WSA just east of Bend
Tread Lightly OHV USFS tip of the month
OHVs to be held to designated trails by USDA Forest Service!
New pole shows Badlands Wilderness favored by voters
BLM posts Reward for information on Juniper rustlers
BLM weighing public input on management plan
Oregon's Badlands hit by old growth Juniper rustlers Photos
Congressman Greg Walden to visit The Badlands
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by COTA
OpEd - Unregulated OHV use is being reviewed across the western states
OHV use curtailed by new USFS policy decisions
Sierra Club's Juniper Group supports Badlands Wilderness
OHV regulation discussed at BLM meeting in Bend, Oregon
OpEd - Badlands part of BLM's recreation management area
OpEd - We need the Badlands Wilderness
OpEd - Off-roaders have no reason to fear Badlands Wilderness designation
Speak for the Badlands at Town Hall Meeting
Hiking poles are becoming essential gear
Vandals destroy ancient pictographs in the Badlands
Senator Wyden tests support of Badlands Wilderness
Badlands Wilderness endorsed by Bend City Commissioners
The Badlands: proposed for Wilderness status
The Badlands unique geologic forms explained by Chitwood pdf
The Badlands, a brief history
The Badlands pictographs reported 75 year ago
An update on the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge in Oregon
The Store Wars best with broadband!
TraditionalMountaineering adopts the Crooked River through Smith Rock State Park
The Republican Political Party is responsible?
Times Up, by Yvon Chouinard
Nation's forests might be on the road to ruin, by President Bill Clinton
Wilderness at risk from new Bush policies
Steens management scandal may affect wilderness study areas
BLM outsourced Steens Management Plan to mining industry leaders!
Owyhee River wilderness study area inventory with ONDA
OHV vandals charged in Yellowstone
Oregon's B and B Complex fire closure modified
Senate says NO to Big Oil in Alaska
Gloria Flora - Environmental Hero
Re-introducing wolves into Oregon
George Bush overlooking the environment