Wednesday, February 25, 2015

User Fees Important to Future BLM Travel Management

Don Amador (L) with CA OHVers 
BLM's Logandale Trails OHV Area, Clark County, Nevada

As the BLM continues with its Resource Management Plan (RMP) revisions on many units in the West, QWR believes that new user fee programs will have an important role to play in supporting managed OHV recreation designated in subsequent project level travel plans.  Those site-specific on-the-ground OHV-related services often include trash pickup, pumping vault toilets, law enforcement, route signing, recreation staff, resource protection, camp tables, fire rings, and trail maintenance.

Designated Route Marker
BLM Las Vegas Field Office

Historically, resource-based industry helped fund or subsidize recreation on public lands.  However, in many regions and states, those industries are either out-of-business or in decline. Without debating if that is a good or bad thing, the fact remains that agencies must have the fiscal resources to manage high-quality 21st Century OHV recreation.

Fee Station - Mendocino National Forest

Since it is highly unlikely that Congress will appropriate more recreation dollars to backfill monies lost to the agencies from resource industries, it will be important for users to support reasonable fee programs where funds collected stay on the unit.

One such fee area that some may look to as an example is the BLM’s 4,795 acre Sand Mountain Recreation Area located about 75 miles east of Reno, Nevada.  That unit charges $90/one year from date of purchase or a weekly permit of $40 that is valid for seven consecutive days upon entry.   Users that QWR has talked with largely support that program because monies collected help pay for public services that benefit both the resource and the OHV recreationist.

Sand Mountain Fee Program

Another popular OHV site is the Logandale Trail System located near Overton, Nevada.  QWR recently visited that area and was impressed with the facilities and trail opportunities.  The riders that we interviewed come there regularly from California and help bolster the economy by staying in town, buying fuel, and eating at local restaurants.

Kiosks, Shade Structures,Vault Toilets,and Tables
BLM's Logandale Trails OHV Area - Clark County, Nevada

User fee programs also help support on-the-ground services at many Forest Service units including the Mendocino National Forest in California and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area in Oregon.  Fee programs are not the only answer, but they are an ever growing factor in the OHV management equation.

Fee Info - Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

 Certainly fees are not appropriate at all sites particularly in remote areas for dispersed recreation, but in popular developed OHV sites some level of fiscal support might be appropriate given current funding levels coming from Capitol Hill.

If you are asked to support a fee program, please make sure your support comes with the condition that funds collected stay on that unit to benefit that local resource and the user.

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