From an email dated December 12, 2007 from the WSNFC:

Western Slope No Fee Coalition
The day has finally arrived when we can begin to see the end of access
fees for public lands. A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate,
with bipartisan sponsorship, to repeal the Federal Lands Recreation
Enhancement Act, also known as the Recreation Access Tax, or RAT.
Please take a few moments to celebrate, and pat yourself on the back for
all the effort over the last 10 years by every one of you that has
brought this about.
Then get ready to go to work. This landmark legislation is going to
require an all-out grassroots effort to achieve passage. We do not yet
have a bill number assigned, so hold off briefly from contacting
Congress, as having a number will be important when you ask for their
We will be sending more details about the bill and how you can help get
it passed in the coming days and weeks.
THANK YOU for your support, which is what made this happen.
Kitty Benzar, President

Press Release of Senator Crapo
Montana, Idaho Sens. Team Up To Repeal Recreation Access Tax
Contact: Susan Wheeler Monday, December 10, 2007
Washington, DC -- The U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies
would be blocked from charging Americans higher fees to access their
public lands under legislation introduced today by two prominent Western
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today joined Finance Committee Chairman Max
Baucus (D-Montana) in introducing the much-anticipated Fee Repeal and
Expanded Access Act of 2007.
The bill would revoke authority given federal agencies, with the
exception of the National Park Service, in 2004 to institute new fees
and increase existing fees at campgrounds, trailheads, and other public
Specifically, the bill repeals the 2004-passed Federal Lands
Recreational Enhancement Act, sometimes called the recreational access
tax, and reinstates legislation dating back to 1965 that limits the use
of fees on public lands.
Baucus, a long-time critic of the fees, said the current system amounts
to double taxation.
"Americans already pay to use their public lands on April 15," Baucus
said. "We shouldn't be taxed twice to go fishing, hiking, or camping
on OUR public lands. It just doesn't make any sense. That's why Mike and
I are going to fight like the dickens to get this bill passed."
The senators noted that both the Montana and Idaho State Legislatures
passed resolutions to repeal FLREA.
Crapo said, "As an outdoorsman and legislator, I have always supported
fair and reasonable access to our nation's public lands. Mandatory user
fees for access to many of those lands limits accessibility to those who
can afford the cost and results in a "pay-to-play" system that is
unacceptable. I also fully recognize that we need to adequately fund
recreation activities on federal lands and will continue to fight in
Congress to make sure the funding needs of our public lands management
agencies are met."
Debates have flared up in communities across the West as fees began to
rise after the 2004 bill was passed. Baucus said he hopes his bill will
help resolve those disputes.
Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, hailed
the bill. Baucus worked closely with Benzar as well as the late Robert
Funkhouser, who recently passed away, in crafting the legislation.
"This bill will bring an end to a failed experiment that has for 10
years burdened Americans with a double tax and kept them away from
public lands they have always enjoyed, Benzar said. "I applaud this
bipartisan effort."
The Baucus-Crapo bill would:
* Repeal the FLREA * Reinstate the fee authorities established by
the 1965 Land and Water Conservation Act * Reinstate the National
Parks Pass system * Cap the amount that can be charged for entrance
to national parks.

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Benjamin Kulas

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