Laws and Bills Related to Recreation Fees

Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (1965) Section 4 of LWCFA governed recreation fees until 1996 when Fee Demo replaced that section.

Recreation Fee Demonstration Act (1996) Originally a 3-year “demonstration” enacted via an appropriations rider, it was renewed several times (always as a rider) and remained in effect until it was repealed and replaced in late 2004 by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

S. 1107 (2004) Bill introduced in the 108th Congress by Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas. Would have repealed Fee Demo except as to the National Park Service. Passed the Senate by unanimous consent. Never taken up by the House.

Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) (2004) Enacted as an appropriations rider in response to public dissatisfaction with Fee Demo. It contains significant requirements and restrictions on recreation fees, unlike Fee Demo which had provided wide-open authority. FLREA was originally due to sunset in December 2014 but has been extended without changes several times, most recently to September 30, 2017.

S. 2438 (2007) Bill introduced in the 110th Congress by Montana Senator Max Baucus. Would have repealed the FLREA and re-instated the recreation fee rules in Section 4 of the LWCFA (see above). Never had a hearing in the Senate, never introduced in the House.

S. 868 (2009) Bill introduced in the 111th Congress. Identical to S. 2438 above. Never had a hearing in the Senate, never introduced in the House.

H.R. 5204 (2014) Bill introduced in the 113th Congress by Utah U.S. Representative Rob Bishop. Would have replaced FLREA with an entirely new and entirely worse law. Included a provision repealing the prohibition of fees for access to undeveloped areas. Contained so much undefined and ambiguous language that it would have allowed the federal agencies to charge fees for anything anywhere. Passed the House Resources Committee by unanimous consent but was never enacted by the House as a whole. Never introduced in the Senate. Posted here is the text of the bill, the text as applied to FLREA, and the WSNFC analysis

H.R. ____ (Discussion Draft) (2015) Bill submitted for discussion at a House Resources Committee hearing in October 2015. Bill number to be assigned when formally introduced. Title I is the same as H.R. 5204 above. Titles II and III add provisions that could potentially transfer federal recreation facilities into private ownership.

WSNFC Model Recreation Fee Bill (Discussion Draft) Submitted to Congress for discussion, this proposed language would result in fair and common sense fee authority for the agencies while providing strong protection for free public access. Has not been formally introduced in either chamber of Congress.