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HOME arrow BLOG arrow The Fix Goes On
The Fix Goes On
Written by Guest Kitty Benzar - Western Slope No Fee Coalition   
Monday, 16 February 2009
All of the Forest Service and BLM Recreation Resource Advisory Committee members have been selected and each committee has met at least once. With very few exceptions, the members of these committees - hand selected by the Forest Service and BLM - have become willing collaborators with the agencies in turning our public lands into profit centers.

Known as RecRACS, they are mandated by the fee law to act as representatives of the public, recommending for or against new fee areas and fee increases. They are required by law to see documentation of general public support before recommending fee proposals.
 
But instead of acting as the public's firewall against ill-conceived, illegal, and poorly supported fee proposals, time after time they have recommended approval even when there is evidence of general public opposition, when the agencies have done no public outreach at all, and/or in the face of evidence that many fee proposals do not meet the requirements in the law.
 
In September, 2008, the WSNFC released an analysis of the RecRAC process entitled The Fix Is In. The report exposed the process as a sham of public participation that actually serves to exclude the general public. Despite the abuses documented in that report, they continue to occur. Since the report was published:
  • New fees and fee increases have been approved despite documented public opposition in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, the Northeast, and the Southeast
  • Minutes from the June 2008 meeting of the Colorado RecRAC have still not been published, eight months after the meeting
  • Minutes from the September 2008 meeting of the Arizona RecRAC have still not been published, five months after the meeting
  • The Montana, Idaho, and Arizona committees have held meetings with little or no public notice, no published agendas, and no published details about the proposals to be considered
  • The Nevada RecRAC took public comment at their November 2008 meeting only after all the fee proposals had been presented and approved
  • The Pacific NW committee refused to allow public comment by teleconference, even though committee members and Forest Service staffers were allowed to appear by teleconference
What You Can Do: WSNFC officers and members have personally attended RecRAC meetings in Colorado, California, Nevada, and Oregon, submitted verbal comments by teleconference in the Northeast, and submitted written comments to every committee meeting that we have been able to find out about. We have made a good-faith effort to use the Public Participation section of the law to participate in fee decisions, to no avail.

It has become clear that the process is hopelessly flawed. The best thing you can do is contact your Senators and your Representative and ask them to repeal the FLREA.

Every single provision in the law that was meant to protect public access and ensure public participation is being subverted by the agencies. It has become crystal clear that no amount of public opposition will stop the juggernaut of fees. The law that authorizes them must go.

Contact information at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov


For Additional Information, please visit the website of Western Slope No-Fee Coalition at http://www.westernslopenofee.org 

 

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Last Updated ( Monday, 16 February 2009 )
 
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