In 1996, the Congress authorized an experimental initiative called the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program that provides funds to increase the quality of visitor experience and enhance resource protection. Under the program, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service--all within the Department of the Interior--and the Forest Service--within the U.S. Department of Agriculture--are authorized to establish, charge, collect, and use fees at a number of sites to, among other things, address a backlog of repair and maintenance needs. Also, sites may retain and use the fees they collect. The Congress is now considering, through H.R. 3283, whether to make the program permanent. Central to the debate is how effectively the agencies are using the revenues that they have collected. This testimony focuses on the potential effect of H.R. 3283 on the issues GAO raised previously in its work on the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program. Specifically, it examines the extent to which H.R. 3283 would affect (1) federal agencies' deferred maintenance programs, (2) the management and distribution of the revenue collected, and (3) interagency coordination on fee collection and use.
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