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Mr. BOOZMAN. Mr. President, today Senator MERKLEY and I are introducing the Corps of Engineers Recreation Improvement Act. This legislation enables the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reinvest recreation fees to improve facilities where the funds are collected. Our bill creates an incentive for the Corps to maintain good facilities and provide quality recreational opportunities on our public lands. The Corps currently collects recreation fees at many sites. This legislation would not change the way the Corps determines use fee rates. Existing law provides that users of specialized sites, facilities, equipment, or services provided by Federal expense shall be assessed fair and equitable fees. Section 210 of the Flood Control Act of 1968 also provides that no entrance fees shall be charged by the Corps. Our bill is not intended to and does not make any changes in that regard.
In Arkansas, recreation on our public Corps-operated lands is an important driver of economic activity, job opportunities, and tourism. In fiscal year 2012, over $4.2 million in revenue was collected at Corps recreation sites in Arkansas. When citizens spend money at Corps recreation sites in Arkansas, Oregon, or other States, many of them expect that their money will be invested on-site to improve facilities and create recreation opportunities. Our bill would ensure those expectations are met.
The Corps of Engineers Recreation Improvement Act would also enable the Corps to participate in the interagency America the Beautiful Pass program to allow customers an alternative payment option at sites where entrance or amenity fees are charged. This includes the distribution and sale of the passes and the retention of a portion of the revenue for the sales of those passes. It would also allow the Corps to distribute Military Passes. This will make it easier for our men and women in uniform and their families to acquire passes. The Corps currently honors these passes but the Corps is not allowed to distribute the passes. Providing the ability for the Corps to offer passes to customers is a commonsense solution that will encourage continued use of Federal recreation sites.
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