America Outdoors Association
America Outdoors Association

April 8, 2014

Join Us in Daytona Beach for AOA's 25th Annual Marketing and Management Conference

Wednesday, December 3 through Friday, December 5th.

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

Making Your Email Marketing Matter

Hearing on Recreation Fee Bill Offers Hope for Changes to Draft Bill

Montana Outfitters Signing Cost Recovery Agreement with the Forest Service

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Proposes Requirement for Electronic On-Board Monitors for Hours of Service

NPS Initiative Recreation Services Insurance Subcommittee

Advancing Pay Equality Executive Order Applies to Outfitters Operating under NPS Contract and BLM Permits

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Speaker: Hillary Bressler
Date: Thursday, April 10, 2014,
Time: 1PM to 2PM Central
Registration Fee $49.95 20% off this fee for America Outdoors partners (Use Coupon Code AOA)

Hearing on Recreation Fee Bill Offers Hope for Changes to Draft Bill

The April 4, 2014 hearing on the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) provided some hope for getting changes to the draft legislation. REA is the authority for issuing outfitter and guide permits in National Forests and on BLM lands. In the draft the current amenity fee structure is being scrapped and replaced with day use fees for areas of concentrated public use (these are not rivers and trails) and permit fees. Some recreation fees are retained in the bill but the exemptions for dispersed recreation are so broad that many users could probably argue they are not required to pay the fee for use of facilities that allow access to rivers and trails. 

Chairman Bishop stressed as he opened the hearing that the bill will be changed. There is significant bipartisanship support for renewal of this legislation, which means that it will probably pass the House of Representatives this year although Senate passage is questionable. Representative Bishop and Congressman DeFazio, the ranking member of the full committee, issued a joint statement: "Reauthorization of the Federal Lands and Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 is an area where we can work together to improve government and protect the taxpayer.  We heard testimony today on draft legislation that seeks to address problems we have had with the program over the last ten years.  There is still a lot of work to do, including addressing special recreation permits and the services of outfitters and guides. We look forward to working together on this legislation in the coming months.”

AOA had three witnesses testifying at the hearing. David Brown, AOA’s Executive Director, Brian Merrill, Western River Expeditions, and Aaron Bannon, National Outdoor Leadership School.  All the outfitter witnesses expressed support for reauthorization but withheld support for the current draft.

To view the written testimony of all the witnesses go to http://docs.house.gov/Committee/Calendar/ByEvent.aspx?EventID=101844

Watch an archived webcast of the hearing. The first few minutes are on other legislation.

Montana Outfitters Facing Cost Recovery Agreement with the Forest Service

With a deadline fast approaching Montana outfitters operating in the Bob Marshall Wilderness are under the gun to sign a master Category V, Forest Service cost recovery agreement (which is also their permit application). The agreement obligates them pay for the full indirect and direct costs related to processing their applications and any level of environmental analysis the Forest Service deems appropriate for processing their permit.  The agreement also requires, by regulation, outfitters to pay whatever monitoring costs the agency decides to apply throughout the term of their permit.  In both cases outfitters lose their rights to contest the reasonableness or appeal the cost recovery category once they have signed the agreement.

The “initial processing estimated fee” for 64 permits is $63,609.  Most of the permits expire in April 2015.  This amount could represent a low ball down payment or the entire processing fee depending on whether or not the permits are challenged or what issues arise during the assessment.  The monitoring fee is separate and will be assessed later.

The Bob Marshall agreement states:
"5. In signing a master agreement for a major category application submitted or authorization issued under authorities other than the Mineral Leasing Act, the Applicant waives the right to request a reduction of the processing or monitoring fee based upon the reasonableness factors in 36 CFR 251.58 (c)(1)(ii)(A) or (d)(1)(ii)(A). Therefore, the Forest Service is entitled to recover its full actual costs for all major category applications or authorization covered by this master agreement."

Outfitters around the country can expect to see this language as their permits come up for renewal.

The Forest Service and the BLM have the same cost recovery rule.  The National Park Service does programmatic environmental analysis and does not implement cost recovery similar to the Forest Service.  BLM rarely uses it for outfitter and guide permits.  AOA is pushing for streamlining of the permit application process.  Categorical exclusions were mandated for Forest thinning projects in National Forests in SEC. 603 of the recent Farm bill.  AOA is promoting a similar exemption for outfitter and guide permits to cut down on the documentation costs.  We have also appealed for changes to the agency's cost recovery regulations.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Proposes Requirement for Electronic On-Board Monitors for Hours of Service

If you cross state lines in a commercial motor vehicle with 9 passengers or more for direct compensation or are using a bus or van with a trailer (which makes you over 10,000 pounds gross weight), you will be required to install Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) to keep records of drivers’ Hour of Service (HOS) unless otherwise exempted from HOS. The FMCSA estimates the cost for each commercial motor vehicle at $495 per vehicle.  Comments must be received on or before May 27, 2014.  The FMCSA estimates the rule will save between 20 and 24 lives per year and around 522 injuries.  You can view the proposed rule at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/rulemaking/2014-05827

The requirements may also be adopted by some states for intrastate transportation. The insurance requirement for commercial motor vehicles carrying passengers are often applied to intrastate transportation. Vans towing trailers fall into the 10,000 pound gross weight category and if they are crossing state lines are required by federal law to maintain hours of service logs for drivers. The rule exempts certain short-haul drivers from the ELD requirement.

The FMCSA is proposing that the rule take effect 2 years after publication of the final rule during which time the agency will provide seminars and training for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators and small businesses.


NPS Initiates Recreation Services Insurance Subcommittee

In response to AOA and others efforts to have some reasonable review of NPS insurance requirements, the National Park Service Commercial Services program has established a subgroup of the Concessions Management Advisory Board. Richard Linford, the guide and outfitter representative to the Board, will chair the Subgroup. The Subgroup was introduced at the 2013 America Outdoors Association Conference in Albuquerque, NM. The purpose of the Subgroup is to provide a venue to collect information on commercial insurance for recreational service providers from a representative group of affected concessioners and their insurance professionals, according to NPS. The results of the Subgroup discussions will be reported out to the full CMAB at their Fall 2014 meeting for their consideration.

Advancing Pay Equality Executive Order Applies to Outfitters Operating under NPS Contract and BLM Permits

Based on a review by our Washington attorney, outfitters operating under NPS contracts and BLM permits will be subject to today’s Executive Order issued by President Obama requiring federal contractors to provide data to the Department of Labor on the pay for employees by race and gender and presumably how their pay relates to the compensation of each group.  We know at this point Executive Order No.11246 applies to NPS contracts and to BLM.  The compliance requirement is not in the Forest Service permit, yet.

An excerpt from the President’s Executive Order can be found below:
“Therefore, I hereby direct you to propose, within 120 days of the date of this memorandum, a rule that would require Federal contractors and subcontractors to submit to DOL summary data on the compensation paid their employees, including data by sex and race.  In doing so, you shall consider approaches that: (1) maximize efficiency and effectiveness by enabling DOL to direct its enforcement resources toward entities for which reported data suggest potential discrepancies in worker compensation, and not toward entities for which there is no evidence of potential pay violations; (2) minimize, to the extent feasible, the burden on Federal contractors and subcontractors and in particular small entities, including small businesses and small nonprofit organizations; and (3) use the data to encourage greater voluntary compliance by employers with Federal pay laws and to identify and analyze industry trends. To the extent feasible, you shall avoid new record-keeping requirements and rely on existing reporting frameworks to collect the summary data. In addition, in developing the proposal you should consider independent studies regarding the collection of compensation data.”

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