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July 25, 2007

America Outdoors E-News

  Two Bills Introduced to Raise Fees from Commercial Activities in National Forests and in National Parks. Take Action Now!!!
H.R. 3058, Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act H.R. 3094 Proposes to Raise $100 Million per Year from Commercial Activities to Support NPS Centennial
H.R. 3058, Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act
  H.R. 3058, Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, introduced by Representatives DeFazio (D-OR) and Rahall (D-WV) proposes to raise $4 billion from fees on commercial activities on national forests and grasslands.

The legislation is being pushed by the National Association of Counties (NaCO), which wants revenues from commercial activities to replace receipts lost from timber harvests. Unless the bill is changed and outfitters are expressly exempted, H.R. 3058 will require dramatically higher fees for all outfitters and permittees operating under any type of authorization in National Forests. Congressman Rahall may not intend that the bill apply new and increased fees to outfitters, but the bill will have to be amended. Even if amended and outfitters and guides are exempted, floor amendments pushed by NaCO and the "commercial" interests targeted by the bill could put outfitters back into the bill. There may not be sufficient sources of revenue from other commercial activities in national forests to reach the $4 billion goal. Any shortfalls will have to be made up by successive fee increases to reach the legislated targets no matter what the impact on a permittees' operation. So, to be safe, you must register your support for changes to H.R. 3058 to exempt outfitters and recreation services from the bill.

Here is the current language in HR. 3058:

SEC. 5. OFFSETTING RECEIPTS.
(a) Establishment- Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall promulgate regulations to establish new fees or fee increases for commercial activities on Federal lands, National Forest System lands, and National Grasslands administered by the respective Secretary. Such fee or fee increases shall apply to any commercial lease or activity that is in effect on the date final regulations are promulgated under the subsection or that is issued thereafter.

In addition to fee increases, most concessioners and outfitters have seen dramatic increases in the costs of operations due to increased fuel, labor, insurance and fees. Note: there is a typo in the introduced version of H.R. 3058. The new fees are supposed to generate $4 billion, not $4 million as the bill reads.

The bill would begin with a $520 million payout to counties with federal lands in fiscal 2008, declining by 10 percent each year. Any county with national forests will qualify for funding. The bill will also include "transition payments" for Oregon, California and Washington through 2011. Those three states benefit the most from the program. Since this is a new obligation, under the new rules installed by the Democrats, new revenues are required to "offset" the expenditures. The legislation must raise $4 billion by 2012. A hearing on the bill is scheduled for the Committee on Natural Resources on Thursday, July 26.

Call your U.S. Representative today at 202-225-3121 (through the Capitol Switchboard) and ask for your Representative's office. Outfitters in Oregon should contact Representative DeFazio's office immediately and directly 202-225-6416.


Ask your Representative to support amendments to HR. 3058 to exempt outfitters and other recreation businesses operating under permit in national forests and grasslands from the new fees required by H.R. 3058. Tell them you have already seen fee increases or are paying your fair share.
H.R. 3094 Proposes to Raise $100 Million per Year from Commercial Activities to Support NPS Centennial
  Representatives Rahall (D-WV) and Grijalva (D-AZ) have introduced legislation to raise $100 million per year in new fees from commercial activities on lands managed by the Department of Interior to fund the National Park Service's Centennial initiative. Any commercial activity, including outfitting and guiding, on lands managed by the Secretary of Interior is subject to new or increased fees, as the bill is currently written. Although the ultimate intent may be to apply the bill to extractive activities, that is not what the bill says. The only assets managed by Interior with mining, oil and gas are BLM lands, so using revenues from BLM lands to benefit NPS may not fly. Those targeted by the legislation may seek to bring in those exempted through floor amendments, so you must register your support for changes to the legislation.

See the current language below.


(a) Establishment of Fund- There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund which shall be known as the National Park Centennial Fund. In each fiscal year from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2017, the Secretary of the Treasury shall deposit into the Fund all amounts collected from fees described in subsection (b), totaling $100,000,000 each fiscal year.

(b) Commercial Activities Fee-
(1) ESTABLISHMENT- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall promulgate regulations to establish new fees or fee increases for commercial activities, including leases, on Federal lands administered by the Secretary. Such fee or fee increases shall apply to any commercial activity, including leases, in effect on the date final regulations are promulgated under this subsection or thereafter.

(2) AMOUNT- The amount of fees shall, in aggregate, result in the receipt by the United States of a total of not less than $100,000,000 annually for fiscal years 2008 through 2017. (
3) OFFSETTING RECEIPTS- New fees or the portion of revenue generated from increased fees received by the United States under this section shall be treated as offsetting receipts for the purposes of this Act.
(4) DEPOSIT OF AMOUNTS INTO FUND- Amounts received by the United States as fees under this section shall be deposited into the Fund.
A hearing on the House National Parks Subcommittee is scheduled for August 2nd.

Contact your Congressman today and support changes to H.R. 3094 to exempt outfitters and concession services from another round of fee increases. Fees for NPS outfitters and concessions have gone up dramatically in recent years. Call your U.S. Representative through the Capitol switchboard at 202-225-3121.
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