Comments on H.R. 2107
RCED-96-189R, Jun 11, 1996
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed proposed legislation that would improve the quality of visitors' services at National Park Service (NPS) and Forest Service recreational sites. GAO noted that: (1) the number of visitors to national recreational sites has increased dramatically, but NPS and the Forest Service have been unable to keep up with maintenance, operational, and resource management needs; (2) NPS has not collected much of the information it needs to track the condition of many of its parks' resources; (3) the multibillion-dollar maintenance, repair, and development backlog has led to cutbacks in visitors' services and deteriorating conditions at many recreational sites; (4) increases in federal appropriations to recreational sites have not kept pace with NPS needs; (5) increased entrance and user fees at NPS and Forest Service recreational sites would help defray direct costs to the government and shift more of the cost burden to the parks' beneficiaries; (6) most visitors are not opposed to increases in fees if those funds are used to maintain the parks; (7) the full benefits of increased fees will only be realized if the agencies are allowed to keep the revenue to supplement annual appropriations; and (8) while the proposed legislation would increase the financial resources available to NPS and Forest Service, it does not provide for oversight of the additional monies or for natural resource management.