Northwest NEWS

September 24, 2001

Editorial

Public lands belong to all Americans

If you are unhappy with the Recreation Fee Demonstration program, which charges citizens for parking at trailheads, etc., please write Patty Murray (U.S. Senate, Washington D.C., 20510).
   Senator Murray is a member of the conference committee which will decide what version of the Interior Appropriations Bill is submitted to the President for his signature. The Senate version of the bill has no extension for Fee Demo. However, the House bill contains a 4-year extension to the program, which would mean this so-called "experimental" fee would have lasted 10 years without going through the public process that a bill normally goes through to become law.
   Ask Congress to fund our public national forest lands from tax dollars, as was traditionally done until recently. Along with your own opinion, consider adding any of these points:
   1. Fee Demo should not be extended for four years when the Senate Energy Committee is planning public hearings on Fee Demo in September.
   2. Congress should wait until the end of September, when the GAO report on Fee Demo will be available, before considering extending the program.
   3. America's public lands belong to all Americans, not just those who can afford fees. Public lands need public funding as much as schools, libraries and highways.
   4. It is time this issue is brought before resource committees in the House and Senate instead of being tacked on to Appropriations bills. The program should have full debate, analysis, and testimony, instead of being extended indefinitely as an "experiment."
   If you are offended by this affront to freedom, please respond. This is an excellent opportunity to make a real difference.
   Richard Tingelstad, Twisp, Wash