Overview. This Act regulates admission and special recreation user fees at certain recreational areas and establishes a fund to subsidize state and federal acquisition of lands and waters for recreational and conservation purposes.
Findings/Policy. The purposes of the Act are to assist in preserving, developing and assuring accessibility to outdoor recreation resources and to strengthen the health and vitality of U.S. citizens by providing funds and authorizing federal assistance to states in planning, acquiring and developing land and water areas and facilities, and by providing funds for federal acquisition and development of lands and other areas. § 460l-4.
Admission and Special Recreation Use Fees. The Act requires that entrance or admission fees be charged only at designated units of the national park system and national conservation areas administered by the Secretary of the Interior and national recreation areas, national monuments, national volcanic monuments, national scenic areas, and areas of concentrated public use administered by the Secretary of Agriculture. The Secretaries are given authority to set annual and single-visit admission fees, up to a certain amount, and to provide lifetime passes to certain persons. The Act also provides for daily recreation use fees to be charged by agencies providing specialized outdoor recreation sites, facilities, equipment or services. All fees must be fair and equitable with notice of a fee prominently posted at each area. In most cases, receipts from the fees collected by an agency are to be placed in a special account for that agency's use for resource protection purposes. §§ 460l-6a and 460l-6c.
Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Act establishes a Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury. Revenues for the Fund consist of proceeds from the sale of surplus real and personal property under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949; motorboat fuel taxes; and congressional appropriations or Outer Continental Shelf oil monies necessary to make the income of the Fund not less than $900,000,000 for each fiscal year until the Fund's expiration date, September 30, 2015. Fund moneys may be used only for the purposes for which they were appropriated. The annual budget of the U.S. must contain a comprehensive statement of the estimated requirements for appropriations from the Fund. At least 40 percent of these appropriations must be available for federal purposes. §§ 460l-5 through 460l-7 and 460l-11.
Use of Fund Moneys for Federal Purposes. Moneys appropriated from the Fund for federal purposes must be used by the President for acquisition of lands, waters and interests in lands and waters as specified in the Act and other stated purposes. The Act permits certain types of acquisitions for the national park and national forest systems. It also permits acquisitions for the national wildlife refuge system, including acquisitions for endangered and threatened species and acquisition of areas authorized by certain sections of the Refuge Recreation Act, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 and other specific acts of Congress. § 460l-9.
State Financial Assistance. The Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance from the Fund to states for outdoor recreation planning, acquisition of land or waters, or interests in land or waters, and facilities development. The Act specifies how the Secretary is to apportion funds among the states, with these payments not to exceed 50 percent of the cost of projects. States must submit a comprehensive statewide outdoor recreation plan; among other things, each plan must address wetlands within the state as an important outdoor recreation resource. Each state must annually evaluate its grant programs and submit a report to the Secretary, who will provide Congress a summary of the reports, along with an analysis of the Fund's accomplishments and recommendations for improvements in its operations.
In 1994, Congress amended the Act to provide for projects to reduce crime. Using amounts appropriated out of the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund, the Secretary of the Interior may provide financial assistance to states for capital improvements and other measures to increase safety in urban parks and recreation areas. The Secretary can provide 70 percent of the funding for a project. § 460l-8.