Geraldine Link: Letter writer was wrong about ‘red tape’ act
October 11, 2017
I am responding to Ron Wackowski's letter to the editor published Tuesday, "Should ski areas be allowed to profit off public lands for free?" Mr. Wackowski's letter to the editor on ski area permit fee retention gets the facts wrong.
Mr. Wackowski states that the ski area fee retention provision of the Recreation Not Red Tape Act, which is sponsored by Sen. Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rep. Bishop (R-Utah), would return a portion of the fees that ski areas pay the government for use of federal lands to ski areas. The money would not go to ski areas under the proposed legislation. The money would go to the U.S. Forest Service to administer ski area permits.
So rather than have permit fees go to the Treasury and then be appropriated by Congress back to the Forest Service, the fees just stay with the Forest Service. This would be no different than existing recreation fee retention that occurs through the Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).
Recreation fees that would otherwise go to the Treasury are retained by local land management agencies to enhance recreation opportunities. For example, under FLREA, outfitter and guides permit fees that would otherwise go to the Treasury are retained locally by the Forest Service and are spent on outfitter guide permit administration by the agency. The money doesn’t go to the outfitter/guide businesses, it goes to the federal agency that administers their permits.
Ski areas are not included in FLREA, hence the need for a ski area fee retention authority. To put things in perspective, FLREA retains $375 million in recreation fees (permit fees, user fees, etc.) annually. The proposed ski area fee retention would retain about $24 million annually – very small by comparison.
Ski fee retention will enable the Forest Service, which is currently under-funded and under-staffed, to properly administer the 122 ski area permits on public land.
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Director of Public Policy, National Ski Areas Association