Arapaho National Recreation Area shouldn’t be charging fees
February 20, 2008
To the Editor:
One has to question why the U.S. Forest Service is still charging fees at the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA).
According to the Forest Service’s budget overview, congressional appropriations have increased 149 percent in the last eight years. More specifically, congressional appropriations for this year’s Forest recreation budget are $35.4 million above that requested and, additionally, the Forest Service’s trails budget is $11.1 million more than requested. With Congress doing its part, one wonders if the Forest Service really needs to collect increased fees, or even any fees at all.
The ANRA entrance fees were established in 2001 under the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program (RFDP), and according to the Forest Service have not been updated since. In 2004 the Recreational Enhancement Act (REA) replaced the RFDP and prohibited the Forest Service from collecting entrance fees. Yet the fees remain. Last year the nearby Clear Creek Ranger District was forced to allow people to access Mt. Evans without paying the fees, although it is still not in full compliance with the law. (See http://www.WesternSlopeNoFee.org for more information).
The Forest Service should concentrate on managing public lands ” not developing “marketing schemes” to force the American people to pay more for access to their own land. Senate Bill 2438, co-sponsored by Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar, is currently before Congress and would restore America’s access to public lands. If you value our public land heritage, please thank Congress and Senator Salazar for their support.