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Approval of Budget Deal Averts Shutdown Extends FLREA to 2016

With time running out for a budget deal, Congress cut a deal that will keep the federal government operating through the FY2015 fiscal year which ends September 30, 2015. Referred to as Cromnibus, the spending bill is not a straight CR but was on the order of an omnibus with limited amendments. 

Of note to many outfitters, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) was extended until September 2016 to provide a little breathing room until its revision and reauthorization.  AOA supports the revision of FLREA in H.R. 5204, the version of FLREA that was marked-up with unanimous consent at the end of July in the House Natural Resources Committee. 

Representative Rob Bishop, the sponsor of that bill, will assume control of the full committee when Congress reconvenes after the first of the year.  It is unlikely that a new subcommittee chairman for Environmental Regulation and Public Lands will rewrite the legislation if Representative Bishop chooses to introduce the same bill in the next Congress.

Blind opposition to FLREA's revision will result in higher fees for recreation access since Congress continues to extend the current authority which does not require Congressional approval for higher fees for campgrounds, use of facilities, special recreation activities, and entrance to National Parks.    Claims that passage of the new version of FLREA (marked-up in the House Committee on Natural Resources in 2014) will result in the authorization of fees just about everywhere on public lands are untrue. H.R. 5204 will for the first time require the agencies to obtain Congressional approval for any fee increases.  The provision the No Fee Coalition cites to verify their claims does the reverse of what they claim and actually is a (1) PROHIBITION ON FEES FOR CERTAIN ACTIVITIES OR SERVICES (A) For any site, area, or activity, except as specifically authorized under this section.  The sites and activities include National Monuments, NCA's, visitor centers and other areas which are staffed, have parking, trash collection, interpretation, toliet facitilies, and are deemed to be areas of concentrated public use.  Still the agencies would have to submit those fees to Congress for approval.  Meanwhile, to get ahead of this Congressional approval requirement for new fees NPS is dramatically increasing Park entrance fees in many areas by as much as 50%.

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