U.S. Senator John Boozman today introduced legislation, cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), that permits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reinvest recreation fees to improve facilities where the funds were collected.
The legislation would include the Corps in the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act and would allow the Corps to retain recreation fees, which they already charge for certain activities, in the same manner as the other federal land management agencies. The legislation will create an incentive for the Corps to maintain good facilities and provide quality recreational opportunities on our public lands.
"When citizens spend money at a Corps recreation facility in Arkansas, Oregon, or other states, they usually assume that money will be invested on-site to improve facilities and create recreation opportunities," Boozman said. "This will help maintain and improve facilities that people use in the Natural State and continue attracting people to these sites. This legislation would result in millions of dollars of annual reinvestment to Arkansas recreational facilities."
In Arkansas, more than $4.2 million was collected in FY2012 at Corps recreation facilities.
"In Oregon, recreation means jobs," Merkley said. "Communities that depend on recreation for their local economies need to be able to upgrade and maintain recreational facilities to keep the economy going and create new opportunities. This bill will give the Army Corps a common sense way to improve crumbling facilities and attract and retain recreational users on sites in the Columbia Gorge and across the state."
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 servicemen and women to acquire passes.
"The Corps currently honors the pass but isn't allowed to distribute them. Providing the ability for the Corps to offer passes to customers is a commonsense solution that will encourage continued use of federal recreation sites," Boozman said.
Boozman and Merkley are members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which exercises jurisdiction over the domestic program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.