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fee demo action

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October 11, 2001 01:13PM
Yesterday evening the Interior Appropriations Conference
Committee agreed
to a compromise that will extend the Recreation Fee
Demonstration Program by
an additional two years. The "test" program, originally set
to terminate in
1999 had been extended twice prior to last night's
congressional action. The
program was to have expired on Sept. 30, 2002.

Yesterday's decision by Congress was a major, though not
set-back to the large and growing anti-fee-demo movement
--- a movement
consisting of 230 organizations and millions of Americans
in all 50 states
(see http://www.freeourforests.org/opposition.html)

Most interesting is the fact that since the September 11th
terrorist attacks
on New York and Washington DC, the Secretary of Interior,
Gale Norton, and
both leaders of the House Resources Committee has taken
actions to create
opportunities for Americans to "reconnect" with their
public lands in these
tense times. Ms. Norton pronounced that Veteran's Day 2001
will be a
FEE-FREE weekend at all of America's National Parks.
Similarly, Rep. Hansen
(R-UT) and Rep Rahall (D-VA) introduced legislation to
issue FEE-FREE "Hope
Passes" to the families of victims of the Sept. 11th
terrorist attacks.

Congress does appear to, at some level, understand that the
charging of
recreation user fees has created an impediment to the
enjoyment of America's
public lands. Congress, unfortunately, does not seem to
understand that all
Americans would derive benefit from being able to visit
their National Parks
and Forests and to reconnect with nature and to regain
their rootedness in
the soil of our nation.

With Congress appropriating scores of billions of dollars
in support of the
War Effort, to shore up the airlines and to "jump start"
the economy,
Congress should eliminate access fees to ALL PUBLIC LANDS
as the right thing
to do at this time!

Such a gesture would have two major and immediate benefits.
entrance and user fees would allow many more Americans to
reconnect with
their nation's public lands. Eliminating entrance and user
fees would help
jump start the outdoor recreation and tourism industries
and would provide a
large financial boost to the economy of this nation.

I urge everyone to encourage Congress to ELIMINATE ALL
FEES for access to all of America's Public Lands
immediately and to
appropriate an additional $200 million dollars a year to
compensate the land
management agencies for the revenues that will be lost by
the termination of
the recreation fee demonstration program.

The benefits to the American People are worth far more than
the $200 million
that such a gesture will cost.

fee demo action

free our forests 1290October 11, 2001 01:13PM

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