Fees please visitors

  Land-management agencies call new user fees an "unqualified success' and they're asking Congress to make them permanent. During its first season on more than 200 sites around the country, the fee program raised $53.5 million. Before the trial fees got under way, public correspondence ran about 2-to-1 against, saying they discouraged low-income and local users and charged too much for short visits. Now, a National Park Service survey says the public supports fees by 85 percent, and a Forest Service visitor survey says 64 percent think their experience is worth what they pay for it. Visitors applaud the fact that revenue stays in parks and forests to fund overdue maintenance. Although the surveys reached only those who entered the park, the report claims new fees did not appear to turn many visitors away. In response to taxpayers who feel they shouldn't have to pay additional fees, the agencies point out that user fees provide services for individuals, whereas taxes preserve the land for everyone. To comment or to read the report, visit www.ios.doi.gov/nrl/Recfees/RECFEE.HTM, e-mail rhwr/wo@fs.fed.us or contact USDA Forest Service, Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness Resources, P.O. Box 96090, Washington, DC 20090-6090 (202/205-1706).