Congressman Proposes Overhaul To Fee Programs On National Parks, Other Public Lands

Alternate Text
It could get more expensive to enjoy your public lands -- national parks, national forests, and BLM landscapes -- under legislation introduced to Congress/Lee Dalton

Legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives could, if enacted as drafted, require the National Park Service to determine "a nationally consistent entrance fee policy and corresponding rate structure" for the 401 units of the National Park System, a potentially sweeping requirement that seemingly could generate tens of millions of additional dollars for the parks.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah and introduced to the House this past Friday, comes as the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act teeters on the brink of sunsetting. Congress last fall extended the Act, which governs recreational fees the federal government can charge on public lands, through the end of 2015.

Under the Act, the federal land-management agencies are permitted to sell the so-called America the Beautiful Pass that allows entry into lands that charge entrance fees, as well as charge fees for a growing range of activities. The Act has been criticized as a way for land managers to offset diminishing federal budget revenues with more and more fees on things like interpretive programs, backcountry fees, camping fees, and boating fees. It also has been reviled as a "pay to play" system for public lands, or a "rat tax" -- recreation access tax.

At the same time, the Interior Department promotes the Act as enabling "federal land management agencies to provide quality recreation experiences for hundreds of millions of visitors every year to some of America’s most scenic, iconic, awe-inspiring, historical, and culturally rich lands and resources."

Far and away, according to the Interior report, the National Park Service benefits most from the revenue stream, receiving $172.4 million in Fiscal Year 2011. The U.S. Forest Service stood second in revenues, with $64.9 million.

Currently, 133 of the 401 units of the park system have entrance fees. Rep. Bishop's legislation seemingly could change that by requiring the Interior secretary to develop a "nationally consistent entrance fee policy and corresponding rate structure..."

However, there was some uncertainty as to whether the legislation would indeed require entrance fees for all units of the National Park System. Emily Douce, a budget and appropriations specialist with the National Parks Conservation Association, said Sunday night that it was her understanding that the intent, despite the lack of guidance or restrictions in the legislation's language, was not to force entrance fees across the board but to ensure that parks with similar amenities -- campgrounds, restroom facilities, picnic areas, for example -- charged similar fees.

Ms. Douce, working with the National Parks Second Century Action Coalition, a group formed a year ago to promote the protection and operation of the parks, acknowledged, though, that the legislation on its face could be read to mean the Park Service would have to establish rates for all units of the system.

The Coalition is fully supportive of the legislation, applauding Rep. Bishop "for introduing important legislation that would allow national parks and other federal lands to continue to retain the fees they collect in order to enhance recreational opportunities for visitors."

"Congressman Bishop's legislation helps preserve a vital part of the funding stream for our national parks and other federal lands," Craig Obey, NPCA's senior vice president and chair of the Coalition, said in a prepared statement to be released Monday. "The Coalition will continue to work with Congress to make adjustments to the bill as it moves through the legislative process."

"I guess the Congress of 2014 has decided that public lands are nothing more than revenue generators for the agencies, not places where all Americans have access and feel welcome. It's the end of our federal public lands system (FS & BLM) as we have known it. Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot are rolling in their graves." -- Kitty Benzar.

The legislation calls for the price of the America the Beautiful Pass, currently $80 a year, to be recalculated every three years "to reflect the change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers over the same period..." The $10 lifetime pass for senior citizens, the free pass given to permanently disabled citizens, and free passes for active U.S. military members, would remain under the current version of the legislation.

Rep. Bishop also would restrict sales of the America the Beautiful passes to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, a move that likely would prove unpopular with international travelers who come to the United States to see a number of national parks on one visit.

"I guess all those international visitors will be paying full freight. Wonder how that might affect visitation at parks where they make up a large percentage of visitors?" Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition that long has fought fee creep on public lands, told the Traveler in an email Sunday. "But hey, they don't vote, so who cares about them?"

The bill also includes provisions that would make it more costly to visit national forests and Bureau of Land Management landscapes.

"The bill would remove all protections for Americans to have basic access to their National Forests and BLM lands," said Ms. Benzar. "The prohibitions currently in place against fees solely for parking, for general access, for camping outside of developed campgrounds, for scenic overlooks, all of that would be repealed. We would be back to the anything-goes days of unlimited fee authority that we had under Fee Demo, and against which the American public spoke up loud and clear, which is why the Congress in 2004 put those prohibitions in there.

"I guess the Congress of 2014 has decided that public lands are nothing more than revenue generators for the agencies, not places where all Americans have access and feel welcome. It's the end of our federal public lands system (FS & BLM) as we have known it. Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot are rolling in their graves."

The legislation would allow the Park Service to charge a fee for shuttle bus operations, such as those at Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, though the cost would be capped at the amount charged for entrance to the park unit in question. While the legislation does permit fees for interpretive programs, it specifies that "before the Secretary may charge a fee for interpretive programs, the Secretary shall identify basic interpretive programs and services, including tours required to provide basic visitor access to a primary resource in a unit, that will be provided free of charge.’’

The measure also would allow the Park Service to charge fees for recreation on public lands and waters "when the Secretary determines that the visitor uses a specific or specialized facility, equipment, or service..."

Under Rep. Bishop's proposal, at least 90 percent of the collected fees, up from the current 80 percent benchmark, would remain with the unit of the park system where it was collected for use. However, before any new fees, or fee increases, could be instituted, this legislation would require Congress to approve them.

Overall, said Ms. Benzar, "There is nothing good in this bill for the public, only for the federal bureaucrats in the agencies. They got everything they wanted and then some. I will be doing everything in my power to stop this from passing."

The House Natural Resources Committee is expected to review the bill Wednesday.


Can anyone provide a link to a "plain language" version of how the proposed fee bill (H.R. 5204.IH) would actually read once all of Bishop's changes were applied? It's very difficult to understand the full impacts of Bishop's proposals without printing out both the existing law and his proposed changes, comparing them line by line, and then making all of the revisions - a very tedious process that discourages thoughtful analysis.

Here's an example of just one small section of the bill under discussion:


(a) Use of Fees at Specific Site or Area- Section 808(a) (16 U.S.C. 6807(a)) is amended--

(1) by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (4) and (5), respectively;

(2) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following new paragraph:

`(2) shall be used to develop and enhance existing recreation opportunities;

`(3) shall directly benefit visitors to Federal recreational lands and waters;'; and

(3) in paragraph (5), as redesignated by paragraph (1)--

(A) in subparagraph (A), by inserting `visitor' before `health'; and

(B) by striking subparagraph (E) and inserting the following new subparagraph:

`(E) capital construction costs associated with administering the recreation fee program; and'. "

This is a good example of why legislation can have unintended consequences. It should be a requirement that every bill that is introduced include a plain language version of the final product, after all additions and deletions to the previous law have been applied. Perhaps that already exists, but I haven't located it.

I agree with Jim Burnett. Especially with Jim's first and last paragraph, But would put a subparagraph in the last paragraph; should be clear as mud.

I'm curious where the Organic Act directs the NPS " to enhance recreational opportunities for visitors"?

My understanding is fee monies can't be used for 'operations', so it seems these revenues can only be spent on development, further worsening the NPS's disgraceful multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog.

During my career in the so-called Maintenance Division, at least a third of the work we did was development and actual maintenance was a much lower priority.

Oh boy, here we go. And a republican no less introduces this. Well here is a simple fact. Public lands entrance fees decrease access to public lands. Period. The goal of the NPS is to promote the unimpaired enjoyment of public lands. This will create an inpairment that decreases access to public lands by taxpayers. There is a part of me that takes a wry joy in seeing dayhikers who will potentially share the burden we backpackers now saddle. It will eliminate the hypocrisay of folks here who think they should get a "free ride" to hike, fish and photograph for personal financial gain on public lands while the rest pay for them. But like Kitty said, it just opens the door for more NPS bureaucratic malfeasance. Any sensible taxpayer should contact their represenatives and voice opposition to this absurdity. I'm sure Jarvis is laughing all the way to the bank today. Folks forget that in these lean economic times, the NPS budgets have actually increased. How many folks here have seen their budgets increase in the past ten years? I haven't. When an agency can't make do with their increases, then its time to replace mgmt with someone who can eliminate unnecessary programs and quit paving roads that don't need paving. (That is a problem here in the Smokies where they claim 9 million visitors but that is a false number. 9 million folks drive Newfound Gap road and about 8 million never leave their cars because it is the main thoroughfare between the casino in Cherokee and Dollywood and the ko kart tracks in Gatlinburg, the armpit of TN.) It is a number they misuse to scream for funds so Blalock construction in Sevier county can crank up the asphalt machines again. Follow the money and you will see that they are the halliburton of the Smokies.

But if they institute these fees, then trailhead parking and backcountry and wedding fees should be entirely eliminated. Any fool who believes that will happen needs to support it. I"ve got an idea. How about folks who use services pay for them? Since the visitor centers are so expensive, how about charging to enter one? The electricity on the donated Oconoluftee visitor center is over $1500 per month. The NPS told the GSMA they had to pay for that in perpetuity after the GSMA donated that facility. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth, this is the NPS at work. Giving more money to an agency that operates in this fashion is like giving car keys to a drunken teenager.

The is a boring argument from those who think everything should be free. The NPS receives over $2 BILLION per year to fund the national park system. It does not seem unreasonable to ask those who visit to pay a TINY part of funding the cost of providing the SERVICE that they have the opportunity to take advantage of. (NPS collects only 90 million in entrance fees) When you talk about the cost driving people away, I have seen the research, specifically the NPS comprehensive study of the American public and many others and there is no clear link to visitation and entrance fees. In fact the comprehensive study lists many things that drive visitors away, having to plan (make reservations) to far in advance, distance from the parks, overall trip cost, not interested in parks, etc. Recreation fees never even make the list. If you want to encourage visitation, build additional lodging and campgrounds to increase supply to drive prices from hundreds of $ per night and make it easier for people to make reservations. Use the fees to create new recreation opportunities that people are looking for, that’s how you encourage visitation.

As far as Kitty's argument of a fee “free for all”, congress now requires approval of every new fee or increase, what better way to limit fees, pass a law each time. Kurt your anti fee bias is clearing showing. Almost every group from NPCA to the Wilderness Society generally supports user fees as a way to bring much needed revenue to the public lands. Without it, (there will be no increase in funding from congress) you can be sure that recreation opportunities and visits to federal lands will decrease, as agencies lack the funds to provide the services and amenities that visitors require and want.

You folks kill me with your undocumented assertions. Here is proof that entrance fees decrease access and use of public lands.

And as far as accusing this magazine of a bias, why don't you start reading what Kurt published the other day about proposing entrance fees to the NPS. Is that the language of someone who is entirely anti fee?

As polarizing as the extreme blacks and whites on this issue are, it would be interesting to see how a compromising gray path could be charted between them. I don't have that solution; I just wish for it.

AWishfulParkUser--First, you are patently and maybe even blatantly unfair to Kurt R. He strives, and does so in a way the mainstream media would do well to emulate, to be fair. I think if you do a careful screening of his editorials over the months,it will become abundantly clear that accusing him of an anti-fee bias is inaccurate.

Beyond that, what this boils down to is one more (of many) examples of bureaucratic bloat. If we, as taxpayers, were not already underwriting the operations of the NPS it would be different. As for the endless litany of complaints from NPS bureaucrats to the effect "we need more money," that would not be the case if they utilized appropriated funds in a better fashion. Anyone with intimate familiarity with the NPS (and it holds true for HHS, ATF, the VA, or about any other federal bureaucracy you wish to mention) surely has to realize that there are far too many employees who do precious little (and that is not to demean many others who are conscientious and capable).

The simple fact of the matter is that the entire culture of the NPS has changed dramatically in the last two decades and, on top of that, there is far, far too much coziness between NPS bigwigs and politicians. That can be readily documented and has been in a number of books.

This reeks of yet another money grab and I see precious little good coming out of it.

Jim Casada

SmokiesBackpacker- A review of all the fee related articles on this site does indeed show the bias, maybe not “entirely anti fee,“ but certainly biased. For example in the article your cite, Kurt states “While recreation fees are generally unsavory...” A clear indication of his feeling towards recreation fees. Also note in this article the only highlighted quote is clearly anti-fee.

Your “proof” that fees decrease visitation is “white paper” prepared by an anti-fee group? A paper that cites not one peer reviewed study, and takes into account no other variable and starts from the assumption that only fees affect visitation? The paper states that visitation peaked in 1999, 3 years in to Fee Demo, if fees are the sole reason for declining visitation why didn’t visitation drop in 1996 when the fees went up, why are many of the parks with the highest fees, $25 today (Yellowstone, Zion) at or near peak visitation? According to the paper one park dropping, Shenandoah, is proof right? So using the same assumption in your “proof” paper at Zion and Yellowstone an increase in fees has driven visitation up.

So, as long as we are citing biased information as proof , here is a paper that proves that if we gave the agencies more flexibility in charging fees we can improve recreation through the increased use of fees.

For me I’ll accept the peer reviewed NPS study that actually asked the public what the barriers are, not the guesses of those who have an agenda.

As others have noted, the Traveler has spoken in favor of fees from time to time, but we do believe the less it costs Americans to visit their parks the better. There's enough money in the federal budget to cover the park system's needs, if Congress weren't so beholden to others.

Perhaps AWishfulParkUser would reveal their name and occupation for the sake of unbiased positions?

"The legislation would allow the Park Service to charge a fee for shuttle bus operations..."

This is the type of thing I would definitely NOT want to see... "add-ons" where I'm reaching for my wallet every time I board a bus or attend a program. (Although just one thing is referenced here, you know once you start paying for one "extra", others will follow.) If a park offers a unique service causing them to incur additional costs, then include it in an increased entrance fee. Let the airlines be the ones to nickel and dime us; they're very good at it.

There is a person in the NPS who's sole job is the fee program manager. And you've got to watch them because I have dealt with that person. They play games with the public input and when I confronted her on a public input mechanism for the Everglades, for example, they tried to deny that the website was actually disabling the ability to capture public comments. We made a stink about it and they were caught with their pants down. The result was they were forced to "restart the comment period", which was already considerably shortened in the first place. It was another example of some crookedness in the agency because that kind of "data" doesn't reinforce the NPS predetermined bias in favor or fees. Pesky public input is just plain inconvenient, along with studies that weren't commissioned by the NPS that prove fees decrease access to public lands. So it is little stretch to believe they would actually have someone here trying to convince us that the public is in favor of paying for something they already pay for.

While I agree with Jim that the Devil may be in the details, on the surface this looks like a pretty reasonable approach. Make fees for comparable facilities consistent. Charge for shuttle buses - but no more than the standard entrance. (I assume you won't get charged for both) and provide a set level of "basic interpretive programs and services, including tours required to provide basic visitor access to a primary resource in a unit, that will be provided free of charge" and charge for the extra's above that.

That seems fair, at resonable costs while making those that incur more than the basic costs pay their way.

To be fair, users never really pay their way when it comes to parks (national or not). 90% plus of the funding is shouldered by the taxpayer and a tiny minority of the population gets to enjoy it. I'm not complaining about it, but that's the reality.

And if Congress wasn't so parsimonious with the NPS budget compared to other national boondoggles then creative ways to fund maintenance, operations, or any other part of the NPS wouldn't be necessary. What is it - one tenth of one percent of the federal budget or something like that? [I'm asking -- I've heard it before but don't have the figure at hand today]

Rick, I believe the figure you're looking for is 1/13th of 1 percent of the federal budget.

Here several more interesting numbers:

* $125.7 million: That's how much park specific passes, daily entrance fees, the various interagency fees, and commercial fees brought in in 2009, the most recent year for figures that I have.

* $2.6 billion, President Obama's FY15 budget request for the NPS.

* $400 BILLION: Cost estimate for building the F-35 fighter, which has yet to fly in service.

* $8 million: Cost estimate of a single job tied to building the fighter.

For what it's worth, Hill Air Force Base, which is to serve as a "major depot" for the F-35, is in Rep. Bishop's district.

The entire F-35 fleet was grounded recently for the third or fourth time after Congress pushed the Pentagon to declare it was "operational" even though the Air Force, Navy, and Marines still say it is in a testing phase.

Several pilots have given up their careers rather than continue to fly the thing. They maintain it is unsafe even if it's sitting on the ground. (The most recent grounding came as a result of fire while one of them was on the ground.)

Lockheed Martin very cleverly made the aircraft a stealthy sneaker that faces no chance of being shot down by Congress by strategically placing manufacturing of subassemblies in as many different Congressional districts as possible.

In addition, the $400 billion number tossed around is far short of reality because of some clever accounting. True cost per aircraft for those built so far is estimated to be in excess of $1.5 TRILLION.

Google F-35 and you'll find a flood of negative reviews and very few that offer positive pictures. And those, if you look, are almost always from Lockheed Martin.

Golly whiz bang. What could our parks do with $400 billion?

As for the idea that charging entry fees for our parks might drive potential visitors away, I wonder. My daughter and her family just returned from Dizzy World in Florida where they paid a daily entry fee of $294 for mom, dad, and two kidlets in the 3 - 10 age range. (That was at a discounted rate. Without a discount it would have been $356.)

Our parks are a bargain.

I'd submit the above comments about the value to local economies of jobs tied to programs such as the F-35 are a key reason why the NPS feels the need to tout the value of parks to the economy.

As the F-35 and other defense contracts confirm, few if any congresspersons want to be open to criticism local jobs were lost because they cut funding a federal project or program. That said, we shouldn't be too hard on the NPS for trying that same strategy to gain support for funding parks, by touting parks as "economic engines."

On the original subject, if park fees bring in about $125 million a year, would Congress ante up that much in appropriated dollars if all fees were eliminated? Seems unlikely in today's world.

I may be misreading the info, but it appears from page RecFee-3 of the FY13 NPS Budget Justification (a.k.a. the "Greenbook") that estimated receipts from fees for FY11, 12 and 13 were about $172 million.

Whether the correct amount is $100 million or $200 million, on my meter, it's a hefty chunk of money.

Well here is a simple fact. Public lands entrance fees decrease access to public lands. Period.

Yeah the $25 or whatever to access Yosemite and Yellowstone are totally turning those places into ghost towns. </sarcasm>

The ten most visited national parks are, according to NPCA:

1.Golden Gate National Recreation Area (CA)


2.Blue Ridge Parkway (NC, VA)


3.Great Smoky Mountains National Park (TN, NC)


4.George Washington Memorial Parkway (MD, VA, DC)


5.Lincoln Memorial (DC)


6.Lake Mead National Recreation Area (NV, AZ)


7.Gateway National Recreation Area (NY, NJ)


8.Natchez Trace Parkway (MS, AL, TN)


9.Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP (DC, MD, WV)


10.Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (PA, NJ)4,843,350

I'm not sure about #'s 6, 8, 9, and 10 on this list, but I'm pretty sure none of the others charge an entrance fee (due to enabling legislation). Assuming that entrance fees would not affect visitation, a mere $1.00 per visit would mean that there is currently $78.8 million dollars per year in uncollected fees from these top ten NPS units alone. If an entrance fee of $10.00 per person per visit would be considered for only the top ten visited sites, this would amount to approximately $0.8 billion. However, I believe that entrance fees most definitely will have an effect on park visitation. The mere perception of a loss of park visitation will cause local gateway communities to vigorously oppose any legislative proposal that would change their park's current no-fee status.

Frankly, the proposed legislation doesn't show much imagination. Why not increase the fee for seniors? $10 for a lifetime? While this might draw the ire of AARP, someone driving a $300,000 RV surely can afford a bit more, even if it's only $25/year.

And if the NPS is worried about luring younger generations to the parks, why charge kids in college, or just out while they're trying to get a job and settle down, $80?

As for the list Owen shared, it shouldn't/wouldn't be too hard to install entrance gates to Blue Ridge Parkway and Natchez Trace Parkway, and I wouldn't think a $10 entrance fee would generate much ire from the locals.

Those international tourists? If you're not going to allow them to get an $80 America the Beautiful Pass, create a separate international pass, say $50, that's valid for two weeks or even a month. And market it.

Kurt--I agree that the legislative proposal is sorely lacking in imagination, but then when have those buffoons inside the Beltway show much creativity, constructive thinking, or competence? The sometimes stultifying infexibility and incompetence we see in top bureaucrats in the NPS and a myriad of other federal agencies is in no small measure a reflection of our national leadership. If that sounds pessimistic, it is meant to do so. I think we are more poorly governed on the national level, and in bigger trouble as a nation, than at any time in my life. The situation with the parks and the NPS is a mere microcosm.

Jim Casada

Unfortunately, Jim is 110% correct.

Yet we still vote these clowns back into office time and time again.

Donna McAleer, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, is running against Rob Bishop and might even have a slim chance of winning despite the dollars that will flow to him thanks to PACs and Citizens United and the obscene gerrymandering of 2010.

I love her slogan: Not Right. Not Left. Just Forward.

Kurt -

We don't all drive 300,000 RV's on our vacations. I spent most of my life saving lives for peanuts, and no regrets, but when I visit now in retirement it's in a 10 year old Subaru. I hazard a guess that there are more out there who have retired like me than those who drive those house-on-wheel behemoths.

Trust me, Rick, I understand your point. But I also believe $10 for a lifetime pass, beginning at age 62, is a heckuva bargain...and a money loser for the NPS...if they look to passes for revenues.

I fall out on the no-fee side of this issue, but it's also important to look at who proposed the fee increases. Rob Bishop is not a friend of the environment or of recreational public land use and is instead a big proponent of the extraction industries. It's true he has made a lot of compromising gestures recently, but as a citizen of Utah, I can only say, "Beware!" This looks like a wolf in sheeps clothing to me.

"The Utah Republican is one of Congress’ top cheerleaders for oil and gas development and a dogged critic of environmentalists...." —

Why not increase the fee for seniors? $10 for a lifetime?

Kurt, wait till next year after I get mine ;)

This looks like a wolf in sheeps clothing to me.

Only because Bishop proposed it? And we wonder how Congress can't get anything accomplished.

Simple. It's because people like Bishop are in Congress.

So lee, what is your stance on the proposal. Seems like from your previous posts, this would be right up your alley. But then there is that Bishop thing. Must be quite the conundrum.

The only thing I like about this is the possibility of equalization of park entrance fees for the large parks. But then it probably won't include the Smokies, anyway.

So you don't like that at least 90% of the fee goes to the Park?

You don't like there is a set of basic services that are free?

The 90% fee retention will find mixed reviews. At present, I believe parks collecting the money retain 80%; the other 20% is pooled and available to parks that do not collect a fee. For obvious reasons, some will be happier with the proposed change than others.

One of the unknowns in the bill is the vague wording about a "nationally consistent entrance fee policy and corresponding rate structure." Lots of room for interpretation about what that means. A higher fee for entrance to a Yellowstone or Yosemite than a small historical site isn't unreasonable, but there's probably room for some greater consistency within "categories" of parks.

Would fees be expected at all sites under this bill? Not clear. At present, areas don't collect an entrance fee when various factors make it impractical to do so, and when the cost to collect the fee would exceed the income.

As Jim Burnett pointed out so capably at the top of these postings, our Congresscritters are very adept at writing such gobbly-gook and then amending it with more gook and amending even that with still more vague gobbly that it's easy to hide all kinds of snakes in it. Sleight of hand is a legislative artform.

I support the idea of equalizing fees -- even adding fees in areas where they are not currently charged. Those of us who use the programs and facilities of our parks are not on an equal with a taxpaying family from anywhere who does not or cannot enjoy them. We are being subsidized by them. That won't stop, but don't we have at least some responsibility (a favorite word of the right) to pay at least some of our own freight?

But I have enough experience with Bishop to know that virtually nothing the man does or says can be trusted.

But I have enough experience with Bishop to know that virtually nothing the man does or says can be trusted.

So you like what it says but can't support it because of Bishop?

Jim is correct, there is lack of clarity. If it can be established the intent is to establish consistency within catagories and forego collection where not pratical, I am 100% for it, and would be if it were Nancy Pelosi proposing it.

Once again you are putting words in other people's mouths, ec. I never said I could not support it. I have, however, repeatedly said we need to be careful and proceed with caution.

End of argument. There is no point in trying to carry on a discussion with one who willfully twists the words of others.

Have a great night.

here is no point in trying to carry on a discussion with one who willfully twists the words of others.

Gee Lee, I guess you dont know what "?" means. I made no claim I asked. Do you support it or not? Simple "yes" or "no".


This from today's edition of Salt Lake Tribune.

Orrin Hatch objects that these Senators don't live in Utah. True, but they represent taxpayers in other states whose tax money is used to subsidize Utah. According to the Sutherland Institute (a conservative Utah organization) 31.5% of the state's funds come from the Federal government -- or from taxpayers in other states.

Note that this article from Sutherland is intended as a warning to Utah's lawmakers to stop relying on that Federal money. Probably good advice, but can you imagine the screeching if Utah taxpayers are asked to make up the difference or go without services they feel entitled to receive?

The sneaky fingers of Rob Bishop are at work again. If you can't get your bill to stand on its own merits, sneak it through as a rider on a bill that will be hard to veto. This is from this morning's NPS Morning Report Legislative Activities section:

On August 1st, the House passed by a vote of 223-189, H.R. 5230 (Rogers, R-KY-8), making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes. Title III of the bill would allow unrestricted activities by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Federal land located within 100 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico.

Remember that Border Patrol and Arizona DPS personnel say that it's actually easier to catch illegals in protected lands like Organ Pipe and Cabeza Prieta game refuge wilderness than it is on private lands. That's because when a sensor system detects movement, they can be sure it's likely illegal. A couple of years ago several BP agents and a DPS officer who monitors sensor systems told me that the capture rate is well over 80% in areas like this. They estimate it's somewhere south of 20% on private lands.

This is just a small part of Rob's war on common sense and environment.

I'm not sure where or how to post this, so I'll toss it in here. Kurt, maybe if you think it is worthy of note, you might find a way to feature this in an article by itself.

This morning's Deseret News online contained an excellent news article with a link to an equally excellent video. The Center for American Progress is a non-partisan (really) organization that presented the idea of ZONING our public lands at the recent convention of the Ourtdoor Retailers Association in Salt Lake City. The Utah office of BLM is already at work mapping out the zones.

Here are links to the article from Deseret news:

And a link that will take you directly to the 8-minute video. The video and article should be required reading and viewing for all of us. Just east of Canyonlands Island in the Sky are a number of drill rigs and pipelines. Not particularly intrusive right now, but . . . . .

Watch the video and then think a bit.

Just posted a link to this article in our latest blog post, about the fee-free day on Aug. 25 at Acadia National Park and the more than 100 other park service-run units that normally charge a fee.

I think there should be more fee-free days to give people a chance to see what a national park can offer a family for a day of fun. It seems like a lot for a family that may be traveling in from out of state to pay for a car load of people and not know what to expect