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    BLM Reviews OHV Desert Recreation Fee Program

    The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) California Desert District continues to evaluate its fee demonstration program to include initiating or increasing fees at certain popular desert recreation sites.

    "Fee implementation/increases remain under consideration and we are maintaining our public outreach to those affected or interested in OHV recreation in the desert," said Linda Hansen, BLM California Desert District Manager.

    A recent release of information by the BLM Barstow Office regarding development of a fee demonstration program is intended to inform the public that the BLM remains on track in keeping users of public lands informed as to the progress of these plans. An initial BLM news release dated April 25, 2003, provided a general overview of the process for expansion of a Districtwide Fee Demonstration Program.

    Congress authorized BLM to initiate the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program in 1996 in order to keep pace with the rising costs of managing recreation sites. Based upon the Act (PL 104-134), the BLM identified the California Desert District as a fee demonstration collection site.

    "The BLM's California Desert District is currently working with OHV interests, government officials, and the public concerning final program decisions that will ultimately prove beneficial to everyone,"added Hansen.

    Hansen also noted that with the assistance of an outside contractor this year, the BLM developed business plans and extensively involved many audiences, including working groups, OHV groups, volunteer groups and vendors. The fees collected will help improve law enforcement capability, emergency medical assistance, litter removal, maintenance of facilities (toilets, campsites, etc.), OHV access roads, appropriate signing, and information kiosks.

    BLM implemented a recreation fee demonstration program at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, which encompasses approximately 160,000 acres, in January 1999. Paralleling the Dunes program, if fees are collected at Dumont Dunes (10,000 acres), Johnson Valley (188,000 acres), Stoddard Valley (53,000 acres), and El Mirage (25,000 acres), they will be used to improve services and facilities at those sites.

    BLM has successfully implemented fee demonstration programs at popular recreation areas throughout the eleven western states. Also, the fees are used for improvements at the site collected.

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