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DC Insider: AMA seeks transparency in federal recreation fees

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In 2004, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act became law – giving federal land managers the ability to impose fees to generate funding for enhanced recreational experiences.

The law is certainly beneficial to many off-highway-vehicle riders – most recently demonstrated with the preliminary approval for the reopening of the Rattlesnake Bay OHV Trail in Mississippi.

However, there have also been complaints about the implementation of new fees – with some riders claiming that motorized recreationists have paid an unfair share.

As the 113th Congress begins to consider the last pieces of legislation before political campaigning begins in earnest, the FLREA is being considered for reauthorization.

This is an important piece of legislation for OHV riders.

Without the FLREA, it would be impossible for federal land managers to issue special recreation permits that are essential for many OHV events. Recreational opportunities would be lost, as federal land managers would be forced to deal with reduced revenue that could have been spent on maintenance and trail building.

The American Motorcyclist Association wants to ensure that the fees collected are directly benefiting OHV recreationists and not being used to subsidize other non-paying visitors. To this end we are working to put new rules in place that would protect OHV riders.

The proposed rules would prohibit land-management agencies from using special recreation permit fees to fund costs that would be necessary even without OHV events. In the past, some agencies have inflated the price of special recreation permit fees to help offset operating expenses unrelated to the OHV event.

To accomplish this goal, we are asking that the law be changed to require federal agencies to keep detailed records of fees collected and money spent.

We want to pay our fair share, but we do not want to subsidize others.

What other ways can we work the Congress to make the FLREA a better, more efficient program? Please send comments to

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