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Recreation Fees: Information on Forest Service Management of Revenue from the Fee Demonstration Program

GAO-03-470 Published: Apr 25, 2003. Publicly Released: May 19, 2003.
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Since 1996, federal land management agencies have collected over $900 million in recreation fees from the public under an experimental initiative called the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. Under the trial program, the Congress authorized the four federal land management agencies, including the Forest Service, to charge fees to visitors and to retain the revenues for use in addition to other appropriated funds. The Congress originally authorized the program for 3 years and has extended it several times. As Congress considers whether to extend the program or to make it permanent, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health asked GAO to address several questions about the Forest Service's administration of the program: (1) How are spending priorities determined for the revenues generated by the program? (2) How has the agency spent its fee demonstration program revenues? (3) What, if anything, is the agency doing to measure the impact of the recreation fee revenues on reducing the agency's deferred maintenance backlog? (4) How does the agency account for its fee demonstration program revenues?

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Appropriated fundsRevenue sharingUser feesLand managementFinancial managementProgram evaluationExpenditure of fundsRecreationDeferred maintenanceNational forests