Fees feed volunteers

  Years of budget-cutting have taken their toll on the trails and roads of the national parks, and the Park Service is using a windfall from increased user fees to clean up its act. Two million dollars in park user fees have jump-started the Public Land Corps, a program administered by the nonprofit Student Conservation Association. Through the program, about 100 volunteers live and work in national parks, says SCA staffer Wally Elton. He says the program covers most living and travel expenses for the volunteers, who earn their keep doing restoration and maintenance work on backcountry trails, primitive roads and historic buildings. The volunteers, mostly college students or recent graduates, commit to a full-time, three-month stint in one of about 100 national parks. High school students are eligible for shorter-term summer trail crews. The National Park Service Fee Demonstration Program, a three-year pilot project (HCN, 6/22/98), spends about 20 percent of its revenues for agency-wide programs like the Public Land Corps.

For more information, write to SCA, 689 River Road, Charlestown, NH 03603, call 603/543-1700 or visit the group's Web site at www.sca-inc.org.

* Michelle Nijhuis

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