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America Outdoors E-News
August 7, 2007

Register On-line for AO's Marketing and Management Conference AO Counts 8 Fatalities on Commercially Guided Raft Trips in 2007
NPS Director Bomar Supports Enhanced Recreational Experiences in Parks; Opposes Centennial Fee Strategy Bush Administration Opposes Legislation to Raise $4.2 Billion for Payment to Counties from Commercial Activities in National Forests
Fires Impact Outfitters in Idaho and Montana

Register On-line for AO's Marketing and Management Conference

Interest is high in AO's new Marketing and Management Conference scheduled for December 5-7 in Reno. Outfitters are already calling with registrations. The agenda is posted along with the on-line registration form. Take advantage of the early registration savings by signing up now. To register go to https://nt1.adventuresports.com/ao/secure/confluenceapp.htm

New this year is a special optional seminar for telephone reservationists presented by Signature Worldwide. Capacity is limited so register soon for this day-long seminar.

The host hotel is the Silver Legacy Resort. Book your room for Confluence®: AO's International Marketing and Management Conference. Call 1-800-687-8733 and use the reservation code AMERICA. The room block for this event is limited so book early to ensure your availability.

There are some great airfares available right now. Book your flight to Reno now to take advantage of the low airfares.

Booth space is nearly sold out for this year's tradeshow. International outfitters wishing to establish cooperative marketing agreements with US based companies have a great opportunity through the International Outfitters Bazaar. Contact Robin at robin@americaoutdoors.org for information.

AO Counts 8 Fatalities on Commercially
Guided Raft Trips in 2007

According to our count, there have been 8 deaths on commercially guided raft trips in the U.S. this year. At least two deaths appear to be related to heart attacks. On average there are 6 to 7 fatalities on commercially, guided rafting trips each year out of an estimated 2.5 million visits.

A study posted on http://www.americaoutdoors.org/member-resources.htm in Member Resources under Risk Management by David C. Fiore, MD, from the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Reno, NV found that fatalities in whitewater rafting range from .26 to 2.1 per 100,000 boating days. (Call AO for your password). At that rate rafting is safer than driving. AO's own study from 1990 to 1997 found .25 per 393,000 user days. As the population ages and becomes less physically fit, the potential for fatalities may be increasing. However, that remains conjecture at this point.

NPS Director Bomar Supports Enhanced Recreational Experiences in Parks; Opposes Centennial Fee Strategy

In her testimony before Congress on H.R. 3094 to establish a $1 billion National Parks Centennial Fund, NPS Director Mary Bomar opposed targeting concessions fees to raise $100,000,000 annually for ten years. While supporting the bill's intent, Director Bomar expressed concerns about several aspects of the bill that are similar in nature to AO's own statement submitted to the committee. Bomar said, "While we have serious concerns about the funding mechanisms and certain other provisions contained in H.R. 3094, we look forward to working with this subcommittee to reach agreement on the best means of securing the funding necessary to achieve our shared goal of preparing our national parks for the next century of stewardship by the National Park Service."

On the strategy to raise $100,000,000 per year from commercial activities, Director Bomar testified, "This offset provision would be unacceptable to the Administration and difficult for the Department to implement. An across-the-board increase in fees would have no correlation to the purposes of those fees, while selective increases could result in litigation. Fees are not royalties, bonus bids, or rents. The Department charges many different cost-recovery fees, and the fee levels are based on the costs related to the activity at issue. The Department also charges other fees for specific purposes. For example, the National Park Service sets franchise fees for concession contracts at levels based upon a detailed statutory standard. Such fees are contractual, and changes to existing fees require renegotiation of the contracts or referral to binding arbitration when agreement cannot be reached, as provided under statute. Diverting such fees would be detrimental to these important programs; raising the fees could result in contractual disputes and litigation and make those activities cost-prohibitive for the users."

Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry on BLM lands made it clear that they will oppose any effort to shift the costs to them. They want users of national parks to cover the bill's costs. H.R. 3094 allows the Secretary of Interior to determine which commercial activities to target for new or increased fees. In a statement to Federal Parks and Recreation, "I think that parks ought to pay for parks," said Claire Moseley, executive director of Public Lands Advocacy, an oil and gas industry alliance. "The people who use the forests and BLM lands, even for recreation, should not have to pay for the centennial."

To view AO's statement on H.R. 3094 and Director Bomar's statement visit http://www.americaoutdoors.org/newsandmedia.php?doctype=2 Along with the testimony and statements, a list of the members of the House Committee on Natural Resources can be found on this page. NPS outfitters should make every effort to contact their Representative during the August recess to express opposition to the use of concession fees or new fees on the public to fund the Centennial Initiative.

Bush Administration Opposes Legislation to Raise $4.2 Billion for Payment to Counties from Commercial Activities in National Forests

Introduced by Representative DeFazio (D-OR) and Rahall (D-WV), H.R. 3058 proposes to raise $4.2 billion over five years to benefit rural schools and counties where there are national forests. Washington, Oregon and California would receive most of the benefit. The bill specifies that the money come from fees from any commercial activity on national forests in effect at the time regulations are promulgated (within 90 days after the bill passes). Testifying before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, Under Secretary of Agriculture Mark Rey said the open-ended fee language would cause great legal difficulty. The Administration opposes the bill as a new entitlement, where as in the past the payments to counties have been discretionary.

Currently, fees from commercial activities, including mining, oil and gas, grazing, timber, land uses, power and recreation, generate about $230 million annually. All fees, including those dedicated to agency Trust Funds for reforestation, raise just over $500 million. The bill excludes $138 million in fees to Trust Funds for reforestation. H.R. 3058 proposes to raise more than $520 million in FY 2008, requiring massive fee increases on all commercial activities. Fee would be determined solely by the revenue goals of the legislation. Fees from non commercial sources would not be tapped. So fees would have to more than triple to cover the costs of the bill, especially since some uses, like power line transmission, will likely receive an exemption from increases. Congressman Rahall's staff contends outfitters will not be included among the activities paying fees when the bill is finalized. However, others may not be as compassionate.

This bill is being pushed by the National Association of Counties (NACo). Their leadership met with AO's Washington representative and other concessioners earlier in the year in D.C. and expressed their intent to raise funds through fee increases on commercial recreation in national forests and parks. As one guest ranch owner recently complained, "I pay the county property taxes and a portion of my sales tax and now they are trying to put me out of business with this legislation." Outfitters and recreation businesses should complain to local county commissioners as well as to your U.S. Representative.

Visit the AO website at http://www.americaoutdoors.org/newsandmedia.php?doctype=2 for a draft letter than you can download, customize and fax to your Congressman. For fax number call the AO office. A list of members of the House Natural Resources Committee is posted on the website.

Fires Impact Outfitters in Idaho and Montana

The Forest Service has at least temporarily suspended launches from Corn Creek on the Salmon River in Idaho as of late Monday. The agency advised AO late Monday of the potential closure as fire was burning along a 30-mile stretch of the river. The agency is looking for alternative stretches of river for trips that have not launched. The Middle Fork is not impacted as yet. Land based outfitters in the area may be impacted if their entry to prepare for hunting season is delayed.

Main Salmon lodges, float and jetboat outfitters continue to deal with fire in the canyon on both sides of the river that has led to some very anxious days and nights at Shepp Ranch, Mackay Bar, Buckskin Bill's, China Bar, Campbell's Ferry and other inholdings along the river for the past three weeks. The river was closed for a 36 hour period on August 4 and 5 so that the Forest Service could evaluate fire and safety conditions. A permanent closure is not anticipated.

A satellite image of the fires along the Salmon River and surrounding forest can be found at http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NewImages/images.php3?img_id=17716

Fires in western Montana prompted the Governor to declare a state of emergency. In the Seeley Lake area 675 homes were evacuated. Some outfitters in the area were adjusting their trips to avoid fires. Firefighters expressed concerned that strong winds might force them to abandon efforts to contain the fire. Winds were moving the fires toward the southwest into wilderness.

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America Outdoors® Inc., PO Box 10847, Knoxville, TN, 37939

America Outdoors Staff


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David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
Office Phone   865-558-3595
Office Fax   865-558-3598

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