America Outdoors Association
America Outdoors Association

March 14, 2014

 

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America Outdoors Association Bulletin

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Outfitter Organizations Express Concern about Cost Recovery Language in Draft REA Legislation

NPS Visitation Down 3% in 2013

Tips on Screening Job Applicants and the Use of Background Checks

New York State to Open New Concessions at Niagara Falls

Google SEO Help Videos

Google’s Matt Cutts offers free advice on how to achieve high rankings on Google search in a series of YouTube videos.   You’ll have to scroll through some of the foreign language videos on the official Google site, but it’s worth it.  Or you can go to the Best of Matt Cutts to get a great series of SEO videos.

12 Outfitter Organizations Express Concerns about Cost Recovery Language in Draft REA Legislation;  Hearing Rescheduled.

After analyzing the discussion draft of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which is the authority for outfitter and guide permits in National Forests and on BLM lands, America Outdoors Association and 11 prominent outfitter organization leaders throughout the country signed a joint letter to Congress raising concerns about the cost recovery language.  The letter to Representative Rob Bishop, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environment Regulation, thanks him for the open process of distributing a discussion draft but expresses concern that the cost recovery language is unsustainable for small businesses.  See the excerpt from the letter below:

“SEC. 807 requires permit holders, primarily outfitters and guides, organized groups, special events and motorized recreationists, to cover “some or all of the costs” (SEC. 807 (a)) associated with the activities, including some broad costs of management of public lands.  The excerpt on cost recovery is reproduced below.  


(b) COST RECOVERY.—In setting the fee for Special Recreation Permits the Secretaries may consider the costs associated with the activities authorized under 807(a), including—
(1) trail and facility construction;
(2) maintenance;
(3) natural and cultural resource monitoring;
(4) restoration;
(5) emergency response and law enforcement;
(6) signage and user education;
(7) permit administration.

Since most backcountry recreationists are exempted from fees (in SEC. 806 (b.)) except in a handful of areas where they are required to hold recreation permits, we believe these costs for other uses and users will be transferred to the outfitted public and are unsustainable.”

“Several of the items under the cost recovery provision in SEC. 807 are defined in the April 9, 2012 Final National Forest System Land Management Planning rule. This rule provides evidence as to why the costs in SEC. 807 cannot be separated among uses or users or sustained solely by the outfitted public. For example, “natural and cultural resource monitoring” and “restoration” are very broad in scope as identified in the Forest Service rule. Forest plans are required to include “monitoring of select ecological and watershed conditions and focal species to assess progress towards meeting diversity and ecological sustainability requirements.”  This same planning rule requires Forest plans to include in their “maintenance” and “restoration” goals, the requirement “to provide for the maintenance or restoration of the ecological integrity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and watersheds in the plan area.”  

These issues, impacts and costs related to “natural and cultural resource monitoring”, “maintenance”, and “restoration”, which appear in SEC. 807, are often indistinguishable among users and uses, not to mention the impacts of natural disasters.  They should be programmatic and not transferred to a small number of permitted visitors whom the agencies will find convenient to isolate and exploit for revenue. The construction and maintenance of public facilities and trails are also programmatic costs, which should not be borne solely be permit holders.”  

The committee staff recognizes that the bill is a rough draft and that changes will be made.  Meanwhile, the hearing that was scheduled for March 4th was postponed until April 4th due to a death in Chairman Bishop’s family.

The following organizations' Presidents or Executive Directors signed the letter:  America Outdoors Association, Utah Guides and Outfitters, Idaho Outfitters and Guides Association, Montana Outfitters and Guides Association, The Dude Ranchers Association, Washington Outfitters and Guides Association, Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association, Colorado River Outfitters Association, Nantahala Gorge Association, Colorado Dude and Guest Ranch Association, National Outdoor Leadership School, and Oregon Outfitters and Guides Association.

Tips on Using Background Checks for Employee Screening

For an overview of the issues related to the use of background checks in employee screening go to the Personnel Management folder in the Member area of the AOA website.  AOA has a member special price on background checks through Intellicorp.  Information on that program can be found in Member Resources or email office@americaoutdoors.org. Need your user name and password?  Call 800-524-4814.

NPS Visitation Down 3% in 2013

Earlier this week NPS Director John Jarvis reported that the “official number of recreational visits to national parks in 2013 was 273,630,895 which was 9.1 million less than 2012 total visitation, which was 282,765,682.”  Director Jarvis estimated that most of the visitation was lost during the two-week partial shutdown of the government, which closed all National Park facilities.

Of interest to concessioners, The Garden Law firm recently reported that a concessioner on the Blue Ridge Parkway, who filed a lawsuit challenging closure of his facility during the shutdown, was awarded attorney fees by NPS provided the concessioner did not file a lawsuit for lost profits during the shutdown.

New York Issues RFP for New Recreation Concessions Opportunities at Niagara Falls

From Governer Cuomo's news release:  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the release of a Request for Proposals for outdoor recreation programming and related facilities in Niagara Falls, New York. Niagara Falls has 11 miles of waterfront on the Upper and Lower Niagara River with four State Parks and underutilized historic structures. The RFP seeks an unprecedented expansion of the amount and types of activities and experiences available to tourists and local residents. This exciting new programming will be designed to increase the number of visitors and boost the tourism economy of the City of Niagara Falls by increasing and extending the stays of vacationers.

 “Niagara Falls attracts as many as eight million visitors every year, and by improving recreational activities in the area we can support that vital tourism industry and continue growing the local economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this RFP, the State will be supporting local efforts to make the Falls an even more attractive destination for travelers and ultimately encouraging visitors to stay longer, spend more, and come back often.”

Copies of the RFP can be found by going to the NY Contract Reporter Website (https://www.nyscr.ny.gov/) or by emailing a request to Concessions@parks.ny.gov (please note the contract no. X001171). Proposals are due May 16, 2014. Photos of some of the potential sites can be found here.

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