Hear what real people are saying about the recreation fee demonstration program and related efforts to commercialize and privatize America's public lands.

Original Document available at http://www.doi.gov/nrls/workshops/tvatrans.htm.   Condensed Version follows.


NATIONAL RECREATION LAKES STUDY WORKSHOP SUMMARY

Followed by the Transcript of the Workshop

Kenlake State Park

Aurora, Kentucky

November 16, 1998



The workshop was organized by the Kentucky Lake Vacationland Lodging Association and was hosted by Commissioner Bob Armstrong. The workshop was facilitated by staff member Bob Curtis.

Commissioner Armstrong was introduced to the participants and provided the opening remarks. Commissioner Armstrong explained the background leading to the formation of the nine-member commission, reviewed the Commission's mission and goals, accomplishments to date, and the process for completing the Commission's work.

Mr. Armstrong explained that the Commissioners are instructed "to review the current and anticipated demand for recreational opportunities at Federally-managed manmade lakes and reservoirs" and "to develop alternatives for enhanced recreational use of such facilities."

Mr. Curtis explained the background related to the public workshops that have been held to date and explained that all of the public comments would be carefully reviewed and would be utilized by the Commission in formulating their recommendations. Mr. Curtis provided an explanation of the handout materials and provided information regarding the NRLS Web Site and the Commission mailing address so that participants could provide additional comments.

Sixty-six attendees (list attached) participated in the workshop which addressed the following questions:...

---cut---

BOB CURTIS: Right; and I want to move on to No. 2.

A. (Male speaker): But my concern is this Question No. 9 in this first handout says, "Will this study mean more dollars will be spent on recreation activities and lakes?" And the answer, apparently, whoever wrote this answer to the petition, "The intent of this study is to identify opportunities for the development of public/private partnerships that will allow for bigger, private investments in developing and maintaining recreation facilities and other visitor managers."

BOB CURTIS: Right.

So in other words, what they're wanting to do is dump all this land around here off on private individuals to take over?

BOB CURTIS: No; I don't think so. I think that there's -- clear, there are organizations across the United States in the commercial recreation business. And they would like to offer a commercial recreation businesses on Federal lakes, whether it's here, or California, or Colorado, or wherever.

So they -- Bob, in his commissioner meeting with those people, just like we're meeting with you tonight. And so there's going to be different points of view as to how much development, any development, and who pays, which is one of the questions I want to get to.

A. (Male speaker): What is the intent of the Federal government as far as the disposition of the land, if it were -- will they sell this land, or will they lease it as resorts?

BOB ARMSTRONG: I think, uniformly, they would lease it rather than sell it.

So the ownership would still be retained by the Federal government?

BOB ARMSTRONG: That's correct. And that gives you a lot of say-so over how you develop it, if you -- and -- or how much you develop and so-forth. But it would be leased. Nobody is suggesting that we sell it.

BOB CURTIS: Okay, I need to move on to the next question.

A. (Male speaker): Wait. I've got something that I want to get in on --

BOB CURTIS: Okay.

But I think Tracy had her hand up first.

BOB CURTIS: Yeah.

BOB ARMSTRONG: All right, let's let Tracy go.

BOB CURTIS: Tracy, go.

A. (Female speaker): Let's let Mark go first.

A. (Male speaker): Well, I was just going to say I think a major need of Federal lakes is to have quiet areas/nonmotorized/regulate things like jet skis.

A. (Male speaker): Yes.

A. (Male speaker): Horses.

A. (Male speaker): Sure.

BOB CURTIS: More quiet areas/nonmotorized areas?

A. Yes.

BOB CURTIS: Okay. Tracy?

A. (Male speaker): And could you put, slash, regulate jet skis?

A. (Male speaker): I think that's the major problem.

A. (Male speaker): Oh, yes.

A. (Male speaker): Amen!

A. (Male speaker): And a dangerous problem.

BOB CURTIS: Okay.

BOB ARMSTRONG: And let me just say, as a general rule, that is something that's really coming up in every place we go. And oddly enough, the people, also that join in the quiet lakes point of view are the water skiers who would like to just have a corner designated for them, and not -- not so that they don't bother everybody else when they water ski.

And so there's a lot of this that we'll work on that's coming to light.

A. (Male speaker): And quiet is spelled Q-U-I-E-T.

(General laughter.)

Just so that you go back to Washington and show them the flip sheet, they know --

(General laughter.)

BOB CURTIS: We have a professional recorder that can spell.

(General laughter.)

Probably look at the flip sheet before they listen to the tape recording, but I had just as soon it be very clear and accurate on the flip sheet. Q-U-I-E-T.

BOB CURTIS: Thank you.

(General laughter.)

BOB CURTIS: I'm surprised you can see that far.

A. (Female speaker): I think we need to eliminate the fee demo program, and I'm a little uneasy about the direction which the meeting is going. I think your website is extremely interesting, and I've divided out 500 pages of it, most of the transcripts from meetings that were held to plan meetings such as these. And it seems to me that the thing that's not being spoken yet is that what this is really about is money. It's not about what we need. It's what we're willing to pay for, and what the government is willing to provide if we are willing to pay.

And if it's okay, I'd like to read just a couple of quotes from transcripts of the meetings of the Commission, -- to Mr. Davies, and again, he's speaking. I think what he sees in this sort of private meeting with other commissioners that he says, "If I might, I think a quick analogy is that until the fee demo program came along for a budget manager in the field, a visitor was an expense, not an asset. Whatever the visitor paid in went to the treasury at the expense of picking up garbage, paying the light bill, or whatever came out of the budget, manager's budget. So the more people we got, the worse the budget was."

And so what this is doing, meaning the fee demo program, again, which I hope you will enlighten us on, what this is doing is putting a little capitalism into, you know, in other words, if you keep your fee collector out there an extra hour and he's going to make three times as much as it costs to keep him out there, then you get to keep the money for your facility, which it's a wonderful thing, in my opinion.

And, again, what we're talking about here is that the public lands, we're just out free public lands, camping was what you did because it didn't cost anything. And your boat in the lake is what you did because you had that privilege as an American. And it seems to me that the whole lakes' commission study, I've been studying it for a couple of weeks now, actually, the whole point is how you're going to make us pay for what is ours.

And I think that, again, when you put us in a room and say, "Tell us what you need", that's not fair. You know, an equivalent analogy. It's not a great one. But if you said to me -- I'm a farmer, and if you said to me, if Federal government wants to put in a new gate for you, Tracy, I would say, great. And then you charge me every time I open or close my gate, I'm not happy.

And I feel very misled again when you're asking me to tell you what I want. And this is specific to Land Between the Lakes for us, I'm thinking, and I checked your website, this meeting was not on any schedule offered by your website, so it seems like maybe it was a last minute meeting now that you're at the end of the year and you have sort of commissioned yourselves for another year to keep stay. But I'm not sure too much planning went into this meeting being held here, but I think it's definitely geographical around the lake and --

BOB CURTIS: Oh, yeah; it definitely is.

-- and TVA is our manager. And this is Kate Jackson, same meeting, and she seems to be discussing exactly the same thing, only in terms of partnerships --

BOB CURTIS: Um-hum.

-- lodging and things going. I'll quote her, then I'll shut up. "In addition, we'll be looking for partnerships to help give our technical expertise as developers come in and develop property. We can encourage them to do things that would not ordinarily have thought of doing."

"Rarity Bay is a really good example, and you can look this one up on the net too. It's a highly developed place. We could suggest to them they are to do a community marina instead of a slip at every spot. And another partnership is as appropriations have gone, we have closed 20 recreation areas out of 135. And, again, you know, that's their total. And I think we have to notice things like Energy Lake and Lake Hematite Lake, things like that."

"And as we've done that, we've looked for opportunities to transfer those to the private sector, Little Cedar Mountain, you know, not three hours from here. Even local government, State government, or through RFP's request for proposals to the private sector."

"So we're looking for opportunities for those, but have taken a lot of public scrutiny and uncomfortable feelings from other stake holders, I think I'm one of those, who, in fact, do not want the commercial sector to take over. And I think that's probably really important for this Commission to examine."

She says, "This is the last thing I'll leave before I get pushed off", she had expired her time limit they show on the video at this point. "As I stated at the Commission meeting, the last Commission meeting, understanding that Federal inventory of sites, I think is important to understand that Federal landscape of recreation opportunities, but I think it's more critical that we understand why some quality instruments have worked well, and some haven't worked quite so well."

And, again, that's where we're falling in. We're giving you the material you need to work against us. And I feel -- I feel that's not fair, and wish you would -- will you at least tell us about the fee demo program?

(APPLAUSE)

BOB ARMSTRONG: Let me say this. Where we have the fee demo program is just in a certain isolated group of people, and where it is, and there may be more than this, but in Parks & Wildlife, in Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the secretary went out to a gate and said, "How would you like for me to charge you more for coming in this gate?" And the people said, "We don't want to pay any more." And he said, "Okay, what if I said, if you would pay us $5.00 more, we would fix that toilet over there and we would build more docks?" And they said, "We would welcome that as long as it stayed here." Because what was happening, it was all going into the Federal treasury and it was not coming back to the program that they wanted it to come for.

So they put in a fee demo program in the Parks Department, and it's worked fairly well. We get a good portion of that fee program comes back to the agency that provides the services. And I think this is mandatory. If you didn't have it coming back to the agency that provides the services, you wouldn't have anything. It would just go -- you're shaking your head over and over. Now, why is that?

A. (Female speaker): My problem is if you fix that toilet, you shouldn't still be charging us people $5.00. And, you know, our land and -- and we're leaving out that LBL is kind of in the fee demo program. Again, Kate Jackson has discussed that pretty openly at different meetings that she believed they could do that, that they could return 80% if you gave them particular user fees to charge.

Well, explain to me again why when, you know, when you started Land Between the Lakes, along with many public lands that are similar, why were there no fees? And the reason is because our tax dollar has already paid for it. Our tax dollars continued to pay for 30 years. And so, if you started now saying, okay, we'll now, we're going to pay, then I don't see what was the possibility of ever opening. My suspicion is --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Well, the problem is that there are more people using the lakes.

Right.

BOB ARMSTRONG: And the Congress doesn't, for some reason, the Congress doesn't put the money back into the toilets, into the lakes. They take that money and put it in the deficit, or they do something. What this is an effort is to get us to pay money for those things that we use.

A. (Male speaker): But on that basis, you're going to continue to commercialize to --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Not -- not -- okay, not necessarily, because there will be some places where you do need to commercialize. You need private partnerships. You need public private partnerships. Because there are so many people using an area that you -- if you don't work with that partnership, you don't have anything done. And so it just spends into nothing. So what we're trying to do is to get it to where you can use, in some instances, not every instance. And what we want to do is find out where we want the quiet lakes and where we -- where we can do what we can do to enhance recreation.

A. (Female speaker): Well, you owe us so much millions of dollars as it is. Like you said, you don't know where half of it went --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Well, I don't know.

-- how can we trust you now?

BOB ARMSTRONG: Well, the problem is --

You have lied to us for so long that we don't know what to believe from y'all any more.

BOB ARMSTRONG: I haven't lied to you. I haven't been up here.

(General laughter.)

A. (Male speaker): It's the kind of analogy, though, if you're going -- you take the forest land that has been logged, and that goes back into the managing agency, then there's more insist for them to log more, and more --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Okay.

A. -- more money.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Okay. Let me just say, the forest service is changing. They used to pick trees and cut them, and pay the county that those trees came from. They are stopping that now. If you will see the overall -- and the only reason I know this is that the guy that worked for me at the head of the Bureau of Land Management is now the chief forester. And they see that recreation is the tail that's wagging the dog and they are beginning to come around to that.

A. (Male speaker): But they're going to change those monies from logging to pay for recreation?

BOB ARMSTRONG: Well, no; there isn't going to be any money from logging 'cause there isn't going to be --

A. But they'll substitute that for payment for recreation. You're going to have to pay for recreation.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Now, what?

A. You're going to have to pay for recreation.

BOB ARMSTRONG: -- get it from Congress, and we're not getting this from Congress is what I'm trying to -- let's take some other questions and we'll talk about this in a minute.

(Raises hand.)

BOB CURTIS: Yeah?

A. (Male speaker): Well, the Commission literature indicates that you're interested in getting data, either sponsoring studies of your own or analyzing the data already out there. I'd like to know if you have any information in the context of the purpose of the National Parks, in particular, where everybody owns a piece of the action because they are a citizen, not because of their ability to pay, and not because of their willingness to pay.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Right.

A. I'd like to know if you have any data that indicate that the goals or the purposes of having parks like that, presumably for the welfare of the individual and for the welfare of the nation. Are those correlated, in any way, with the ability to pay or the willingness to pay? I don't understand why a poor person wouldn't benefit as much from recreation on a public land as that rich person.

BOB ARMSTRONG: I think you're exactly right. And I think that, by enlarge, the National Parks are undercharging, if you want to call it that, and this is -- it's okay for them to undercharge, because that let's the poor person in there.

A. Is that not true of other public lands, especially those taken by imminent domain?

BOB ARMSTRONG: I don't know, but we'll have to equip to do that.

(Raises hand.)

BOB ARMSTRONG: Okay. Yes?

A. Yeah; I have a copy of the document here that is an agreement between U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and the American Recreation Coalition. And I note from your website, studying that, that the American Recreation Coalition has had representatives at many of your meetings before. And this is a coalition of large tourism based industries including Disney and several others.

And I know your area of expertise was leasing public resources through corporation. And my concern is what this is about is that the Forest Service is now going to be replacing logging, of course, it's going to be stopping on public lands pretty soon, with recreation as a way of generating revenues for them to operate.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Not as a way of getting money. They're not doing that. They're just stopping the cutting of trees. But they're not saying, we're going to charge somebody for something else.

A. (Male speaker): We have statements from the editor of Forest Service that says that they need to start thinking of recreation -- on stop thinking of it as an amenity that it belongs to us just because we're Americans, and start thinking of it as a revenue generating asset.

BOB ARMSTRONG: I'd like to see where you --

A. We've got it right here. We'll bring it to you.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Okay. And that's something that -- somebody has to pay for it in some way, but unless you can get the Congress to give you the money to do it.

A. (Male speaker): But we don't have to pay for it by exploiting our resources --

BOB ARMSTRONG: No.

A. -- and that's what I'm trying to tell you.

A. (Male speaker): And especially if the land is taken by eminent domain and turn this over to corporations now, that is the worse form of corporate welfare I can imagine, to take land from private individuals by eminent domain and put it in public sector, and then turn it over to corporations to come in and build facilities on it for which they can make money. And we have the studies here from your organization here that shows the minimum size that a business has to be, the campground has to be to be able to return a profit to entice these corporations.

A. (Male speaker, as he presents document to Mr. Armstrong): Do you want to read that to the group?

A. Appears to be the motive behind this.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Do you want to read the line that you --

A. I've got them marked.

BOB ARMSTRONG: "It baffles me that the Department of Agriculture tracks the value of soybeans, corn, or wheat to the penny by the day, yet rarely is recreation and tourism on Federal lands understood as a revenue generator. Instead, it is perceived as an amenity, something extra that we are privileged to enjoy. Fortunately, this is beginning to change." This is Mike Dombeck, Chief of the Forest Service.

Now, what is your objection to that?

A. (Male speaker): We think it's an amenity that shall remain and will remain, whether Dombeck remains or not.

A. (Male speaker): Because it's our resource, not his.

A. Right.

(APPLAUSE)

BOB ARMSTRONG: Let me say, I was leasing the public lands because that was my job. I much would rather be in Parks & Wildlife like I was in that other area. I just happened to have done this because they thought that I knew something about how you dealt with corporations and because I was the only one that was elected for 12 years in Texas, because I was a peoples' man, not a corporation man.

A. (Female speaker): So what you're saying, you don't know nothing?

BOB ARMSTRONG: What?

A. You know, what upsets us is that you really owe us a lot. I mean, you took the land away from our parents and our grandparents. You promised us that as long as we lived, there would not be no commercialization. Right now over there at Land Between the Lakes, there's a town almost big as Aurora. It's called Wrangler's Camp. They charge for everything you can possibly think of. To me, that's commercialization.

A. (Male speaker): Yeah.

A. (Female speaker): And they're not finished yet.

A. (Female speaker): And we're not finished yet. You know, little by little, sir, they're building over there and it doesn't matter what we say. They're still going to do it. That's what we're frustrated about.

BOB CURTIS: What the Commission needs to know, then --

A. (Female speaker): You know --

BOB ARMSTRONG: What does the Commission need to know about this?

A. (Female speaker): Well --

BOB CURTIS: What do they do about this issue?

A. (Female speaker): We're asking -- we don't want theme parts. We don't want anything like that over there at Land Between the Lakes.

A. (Female speaker): And you're talking about money.

A. (Female speaker): We want to leave it like it is, you know, your fish and wildlife, camping, fishing, that's all right. But these outside lake -- I mean, these outside community like Aurora, Grand Rivers, stuff like that, they can benefit from it.

Can't you build your hotels, and your lodges, and stuff like that on the outside?

BOB CURTIS: Okay, so you're --

And leave the inside alone.

BOB CURTIS: The issue that we need to get to the Commission at, because Bob and Kate, Kate, because she's with TVA; Bob, because he's sitting here tonight is probably the only commissioner that knows a lot about LBL.

So what we need to do is put something here in our notes to get to the Commission that gets this whole idea across to them. And the idea that I'm getting across from you all is that you would be opposed to the commercialization of public property.

A. (Male speaker): Like --

BOB CURTIS: We are not interested in commercialization of public property through the use of outside corporations, or through what is called public private partnerships. Is that the correct issue?

A. (Male speaker): Yes.

A. (Female speaker): That's the whole thing.

A. (Male speaker): Yes.

A. (Male speaker): Especially when you haven't explored having public private partnerships with nonprofit corporation.

BOB CURTIS: I do want to ask you to clarify whether that relates only to Land Between the Lakes --

A. (Male speaker): No; it's --

-- or would that relate to all land --

A. (Male speaker): All land.

-- owned by Corp of Engineers?

A. (Female speaker): Federal land. Public land. People owned land.

BOB CURTIS: Okay, Corp of Engineers on Lake Barkley?

A. (Male speaker): Yes. Yes.

A. (Female speaker): TVA --

A. (Male speaker): Yes; TVA and --

Q. TVA on Kentucky Lake --

A. (Male speaker): Yes.

Q. And TVA at LBL?

A. (Male speaker): Well, one of the places is called Wildcat.

A. (Male speaker): It should be all Federal lands nationwide, 'cause I own just as much of those as I do of Land Between the Lakes. If I decide I want to take my family there, I ought to be able to go in there even if I'm poor.

That's public land we own. And turn it over to the corporation, Disney or anybody else to develop it --

A. (Female speaker): And we're not going to have a chance.

A. -- we're gone.

BOB ARMSTRONG: No one is saying we're going to turn this over to Disney --

A. (Female speaker): Yeah; but see, we've been through this before. We've been through this before.

A. (Male speaker): How do we choose which -- I mean, how do you make an equitable choice as to who -- which entity is going to make money off the public land. And the rest of us are going to pay, and one person is going to make money. And it's the same way with the logging, which, by the way, you know, I'd just throw in and say that if you look at the Forest Service's strategic plan, logging is not about to end. They're only going to end logging kicking and screaming. They might call it something else, ecosystem management, or whatever. But that's off the subject.

But I just wanted to throw that in because I didn't want anybody here, you know, thinking that you are really accurate in that statement.

But back to the --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Now, what statement did I say that is inaccurate?

A. That the Forest Service was ending logging.

BOB ARMSTRONG: All right, but the plain fact is the Forest Service is getting to where they are not cutting old growth forest. They are -- and --

A. That's just not true.

You know, but I don't want to talk about that because we're talking about the lakes.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Okay, but what I'm saying is it's not something that's going to happen just like this.

A. You mean -- go up to -- National Forest in upper Michigan. They're cutting old grown forests left and right. I mean, you know, there is a lot of national forests, and a blanket statement like that just isn't true, and I know what I'm talking about.

But anyway, the point I'm getting to is how can you, in good conscious, pick an entity to get rich off of public land, be it logging, recreation, oil and gas, or whatever, when the rest of us pay for it? That just is -- it's just not fair.

BOB CURTIS: Okay, can we address that? 'Cause we need to address that. What you're talking about is how -- what I've heard discussed about is how things are funded, how you think they should be funded or not funded.

A. No; that's not -- what I said was how do you pick an entity --

BOB CURTIS: I know.

A. -- to get rich off the public land, then everybody else pays.

BOB CURTIS: But you see, that's one funding proposal, though. That is a funding proposal that a corporation, private corporation, may form a partnership with the Federal government somewhere and provide services. In return, they are going to make a profit as well. They're not going to do it --

A. Right.

BOB CURTIS: -- just because they're benevolent --

A. That's right.

BOB CURTIS: -- or because they like people, they're going to make a profit. That's one way of paying.

That's what the -- the second most important thing that the Commission has to deal with, and if you read the website, that's clearly what a lot of people are interested in.

A. It's the intent of the study. It says it right in your paper.

BOB CURTIS: How do you pay for it? Now, why was there a Commission to begin with? Because as Bob said, Federal corporations are continually going down.

A. No; that's not what I asked. I asked how do you pick --

BOB CURTIS: We don't know. That's why --

A. How do you pick? Is it because some corporation donates a lot of money --

BOB CURTIS: No.

A. -- to some senator? Is that how it gets picked? I mean, that's how it's being done right now.

BOB ARMSTRONG: In most instances, the pickers, if you want to do that, happen to be, let's say, in the Corp of Engineers. Let's take Lake Lanier, it is so close to the City of Atlanta that those people gather in there. And so they have to determine how they do this. So they lease land and get money back for a person to build a marina. And somebody comes up with -- and it wasn't somebody that just -- they picked. It was somebody that wanted to take a chance. And so he took the chance, and he built the marina.

And Lake Lanier is a situation that is a lot because there are so many people around it. And when you get that kind of situation, I think you have to have certain of those commercial, private corporations that will do this.

Up here, you may not need it at all, and you could have it quiet and all the things that you wanted to have the amenities just because you don't have the commercialization that you have in that area around Lake Lanier.

But let me tell you what the lake manager has done. He has cleaned up the lake so that they have no -- dumped in the lake. It's all done by private corporations. And this is just the fact that growth occurs in that particular area, and so you have to make some rules there that you don't have to make otherwise.

And that's the only thing that I'm saying that we've done.

A. (Male speaker): This is occurring here. Like on Barkley Lake, at Range Harbor Bay in Grand Rivers, that land was taken from people as part of the reservoir. Now it's leased out -- well, first of all, they made a public recreation area out of it where you could have picnics, family gatherings, whatever. Now they've turned it over to a private developer with a marina. He put condos in, cabins in. They got a gate up going into ingress now. So it is happening here on this -- on Barkley Lake, and we don't want it to happen on Kentucky Lake or any of the TVA lakes, or any Federal lake.

BOB ARMSTRONG: We'll write that down.

BOB CURTIS: That's written down. It's right there. In fact, I wrote down three different ways.

A. (Male speaker): It may help you with that. There was one -- at one time, the Corp of Engineers put out a bid to whoever would, you know, there was an area for development of marina. Why, I don't know if it's still the same policy, but they would take bids, sealed bids, and whoever would bid the high -- would give them the largest percentage of their profit would get the bid. That was why I was determined to -- if that's a satisfactory answer. That's the way it was.

BOB ARMSTRONG: So whoever bid to pay the most for --

A. (Male speaker): You bid and you say you'd give them 4%; and I bid and I said, I'd give them 5%; and he bids, and he says, "I'll give them 8%", he would get the job.

BOB ARMSTRONG: You've got a question back there.

A. (Female speaker): Mr. Armstrong, I apologize to you again, because I know that you've -- into Kentucky, you don't know us. One of the problems that seems to plague the Commission is here again tonight, now that there's no sense of history connected to this Commission. Kate Jackson, again, was even asked to explain what she knew about the new deal. She couldn't remember that far. And it does seem that the people who are talking are '80s and '90s people. And when you are saying, again, these corporations are willing to take these risks, and in exchange, well, they've cleaned things up and the government doesn't have to buy a marina.

That -- what I'd like you to understand is the ones of us who were from there, and that was privately owned, all of Land Between the Lakes was privately owned by farmers, and we were mostly poor. And the kinds of risks that we were taking when we established marinas -- my dad's good friend, George Davidson, was trying to establish his own marina, and he was doing a good job. He had hundred dollars borrowed from this person and that person, which he paid back with interest. And when the government came in and said to him, "You can't do this here", you know, "This is a place where there can't be any commercialization, you'll ruin it." And then 30 years later, you know, we're sitting and openly discussing what big corporation gets to go in and take the same kind of chances, again, whether it's Land Between the Lakes, or whether it's anybody's public land. Little Cedar Mountain, others, I'm equally offended, because you took that. And when we say, you, tonight, we're saying you, as the representative of the Federal government, and that's all I'm thinking when I say you. We don't understand why that's okay for you to do that. I still don't understand why we are even discussing the particulars of it when the principal is what's wrong.

A. (Male speaker): If you didn't know it was wrong, why are you having the hearing?

BOB ARMSTRONG: Well, we're trying to figure out how to do it right where you get more and more people competing for use of the same lake where you didn't used to have that kind of competition.

A. (Female speaker): You're going to have to limit the people before you say that we can turn this over. You're just going to have to say, okay, here is the number of people who can visit this area for free, and after that, nobody else can come. It's just --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Okay.

A. And it's just -- it's not --

BOB CURTIS: Is it to that point?

A. I don't think it is.

A. (Male speaker): No.

A. (Male speaker): No.

A. I don't think it is. I think we are an equally exaggerated number. I think the majority of people using Land Between the Lakes would be happy with your amenities if that's what it would take to forget this whole thing.

And what I know too, are the public launching ramps and things out west, I've been in California, been in Arizona, and I've been to lakes there where you are charging; of course, charging, and you charge a fee to park your car. You charge a fee to put your boat in the water. I don't know if you have to pay to get it out of the water too, or if it could just set there indefinitely.

(General laughter.)

A. That -- you know, we don't need that. We've never needed it, and I don't think that we want it now. And what -- I feel I'm being pushed in the direction of saying, yes when, you know, to the particulars of the program, when I just want to say, no, to the whole concept; it's wrong.

BOB CURTIS: Yeah; that's fine.

A. And I don't see how this Commission can fix it if everybody on the Commission is already sold on that deal, that we need to make these places, if not pay, at least break even in a new way. And it seems to me that the bad news, you're going to have 30 years, you know, could have taken care of the whole problem if they had put aside 10% of the appropriations over those 30 years over at Land Between the Lakes, say, as any good farmer or person who plans to retire would have done, we wouldn't have these questions. Now, it doesn't take that much to keep the place running if you --

BOB ARMSTRONG: But we didn't do that, and now we're having to try to figure out what we can do.

A. -- because of the managing agency, then, responsible for fixing that problem --

A. (Male speaker): With our land.

BOB CURTIS: I need to get those ideas down, though. See, and I don't have them captured. And what you said was very important to the second question, and that is how do we pay for anything? That's the second question. And there's different ideas about who pays, how do you pay, how is it financed, and it's clearly --

A. (Female speaker): -- to get it back, and I hate to hear myself say that and I don't have that interest. I don't have my land back over there. But I'm -- by the way you said free and natural, and for anybody who wants to use it. And if you can't do that, then if you took it by eminent domain, you better give it back by reversing that domain to people who could manage it with very little money.

BOB CURTIS: Okay, so from your point of view, if there is not sufficient funds to manage the property for the public, then the property should be --

A. It should -- if it was taken from individuals, you're going to have to trace the leases and the deeds, and you're going to have to give it back to the individual that you said you would manage it better than when you took it.

(APPLAUSE)

A. (Female speaker): I know that will never happen.

BOB ARMSTRONG: If I do decide that sufficient funds is a problem, and if the managing agency can quickly decide if it's insufficient or whatever, that's --

BOB CURTIS: Okay. What are some other ideas on how to pay for the recreation amenities?

---

And there's a gentleman, I think, that's had his hand up for a while.

A. (Male speaker): Before you get off this funding thing, I would like just to say that I believe that the government does not demand a private, public contract or partnerships at all. In my mind, I'm absolutely certain that if this trend continues the way it is, that in 20 or 30 years, we won't have our national parks or public lands in the way that they are at all. That they'll be something else all together. And I think that's too precious of a resource to subject to properteering or to somebody that has enough money and with enough clout to make that decision in Congress affecting those properties.

(APPLAUSE)

BOB CURTIS: I would like to ask you to put down, what are some of your concerns about things that would go wrong? What is it that we are -- what's going to happen if we don't want to --

A. (Male speaker): There has been a lot of concern in Yellowstone and other parks out west about the mining, and strip mining, and gold mining, and oil drilling. And when those things get in there, there's too much --. And it's probably part of our political funding is part of the problem. But that's what we plan, and it should be public land. I think we should be able to fund that through public money if -- and Congress should be held liable to fund that land for us.

And if they -- if special groups can get in there, then they can also control Congress. That may be what's going on now. That may be why we're hearing that we can't -- we don't get this funding from Congress any more.

BOB ARMSTRONG: So if the public -- if the private part of the public or the private partnership, the private part gets entry into the land in the system, they're going to exert additional forests. They're going to lobby.

A. (Male speaker): Exactly.

A. (Male speaker): They're going to go to Congress. The whole management scheme of the public lands is it's going to change.

A. (Male speaker): I agree with that. I agree with that with my whole heart.

A. (Female speaker): Is what we're seeing here a making of another type of bureaucracy that we would like to get away from if we're going to enter into something like this? That's the question.

BOB CURTIS: Okay. Other concerns or issues?

A. (Male speaker): This may be a little off the wall, but we're saying how should recreation be capable, or what we might say, how should recreation be accounted for? And in terms of contract management, they use something they call budgeted costs for work performed. They use a project schedule. And in a project schedule, the scope of the work, the budget all match. That is, anyone who is going to make a proposal for the budget will assign a certain number of dollars or travel dollars, or whatever you're going to have. Any manager who signs off on that would be responsible for the accounting of whether he accomplished his task or not. He could have failed in his task. We see silos between the lakes falling apart. It says somebody had budget for that task. They took credit for that task. The work was never done.

So there's a problem. You have to have scope, schedule, and budget all matching. That's normal accounting procedure. That's normal project procedure. Perhaps, we should talk about there should be a method of accounting for the recreation dollars spent by Federal agencies. So when they sign off on a budget item, if there is a --

A. (Male speaker): So there, it might be a real dangerous precedent for the whole Federal government.

(General laughter.)

BOB ARMSTRONG: That's what I was going to say. If this could spread upward, that would -- we'd sure do well.

BOB CURTIS: Okay. If there is any other issues on how should or could recreational facilities be paid for, I can leave that, and then we can go to let you pick the next one we might take a look at. Other questions on costs and --

(Raises hand.)

BOB CURTIS: Yes?

A. (Female speaker): I want to go back to something that was said earlier about how the land and the water are separate. If TVA continues to manage LBL the way it is, we will not have a lake. We'll have Kentucky mud flats. They are doing so many activities in managements that's causing erosion into the lakes. They're doing logging with heavy duty big machinery. They are farming. They're grazing cows. And they have this area, ATV area, that's right on the lake. And you can see on all the little bays, they're all filling in. The Hancock Center, which is part of the University is doing studies on siltation, and they predict in 100 years the lakes will be filled with mud.

What about the dredging costs? Who is paying for that? How much is that? This is something that could be avoided.

BOB CURTIS: I'll have to write that down. And I think it's -- you're identifying that as a need problem, and if you could kinda shorten that up, it is -- it would be?

A. Well, it's an expense --

A. (Male speaker): Erosion control.

A. It's an expense that the taxpayers are paying for it.

BOB CURTIS: But you're addressing activities that are causing erosion --

A. Right.

BOB CURTIS: -- that don't need to cause erosion; correct?

A. Correct.

BOB CURTIS: Is that the point?

A. Right.

BOB CURTIS: That's the point, okay.

So that would come under No. 1.

A. (Male speaker): Erosion.

BOB CURTIS: Could you write that up there? (To gentleman assisting with question sheets.)

A. (Female speaker): I've got a photo. Since I brought it, I might as well show you all.

BOB CURTIS: You can set it up here.

A. (Presents poster board with photographs on it.)

This is Turkey Bay, and this is what TVA has allowed to happen to 2,500 acres of our public land. Some of these gullies are over my head. Twenty-five acres of this. They allowed -- this is illegal. This is ATV's in Kentucky lake. You can see the hillsides, what's happened.

This is just one example of --

BOB CURTIS: So -- properties adjacent to lakes, we would want to discontinue these types of uses that are causing --

A. (Female speaker): Right.

A. (Male speaker): Sure.

BOB CURTIS: -- damage along the shoreline, in the lake, or creating and contributing erosion into the reservoirs?

A. (Female speaker): Right. Right.

A. (Male speaker): Shoreline stabilization.

BOB CURTIS: So better shoreline management, better land management, and discontinuance of activities that cause erosion and sedimentation.

A. (Male speaker): There is -- TVA does not allow the use of ATV's in the lake area itself, even after, you know, draw -- after draw down.

A. (Female speaker): But they do, 'cause they don't --

A. (Male speaker): They don't enforce it.

A. (Male speaker): How would they enforce -- now, we're back to how are we going to pay for it.

A. (Female speaker): Well --

A. (Male speaker): True. If they paid it --

A. (Male speaker): I'm talking about anywhere in the lake, not just in LBL, I'm talking about anywhere in the lake. TVA does not allow it, but the TVA, how are they going to enforce it?

I mean, you're going to have to have something -- you'd have to have 50 people from the TVA around them trying to enforce that. The ATV's are --

BOB ARMSTRONG: We really need to make a list of TVA problems and lake problems.

A. (Male speaker): Right.

A. (Male speaker): I'm just trying to clarify there that there is -- TVA is against it, but there's no way to enforce it without other money. That's all.

(Raises hand.)

BOB CURTIS: Yes, sir?

A. (Male Speaker): Yes. I'd like to kinda get away from the whole deal and talk about just public lands, public lakes, in general, sort of on a national level. One of the reasons these things were put in public ownership in the first place was to make sure that they're still here for future generations.

And my main concern about entering into partnerships with these corporations or whoever else is that -- I mean, the reason they were put in public ownership was to protect them from the market forces so that things can be done in here on these public lands that ought to be done, whether or not it's cost effective.

And if you bring in these partnerships with these profit-based entities to manage these things, they're going to be doing the things, the activities. They're going to be controlled by free market system, and before long, you won't be able to tell the difference between our public lands and private land.

And that's the whole purpose of the private land -- the public land is to be able to tell the difference.

BOB ARMSTRONG: But there was a law that was passed that was called FLPMA. That was the Federal Land Policy Management Act, and it envisioned certain uses that would be, you know, timber might be one. Mining might be one. Grazing might be one. And those are the laws that we operate under.

Now, you can go back and change that, and I think we are changing more toward recreation because the lands are filling up in the west. But flood -- it envisioned that there would be a multiple purpose for some of these lands. But I think we're gaining on it in that recreation and free access is more prevalent now.

A. (Male speaker): You said the key word, free.

BOB CURTIS: Yeah; that's right.

A. (Male speaker): Don't you see that the, you know, the timber, and the oil, and the mineral extraction has all been subsidized for all these years. In other words, the government --

BOB ARMSTRONG: Of course, it has.

A. -- pay for all these things. Millions of dollars, $85 million last year on the Forest Service for timber harvest.

Why can't we be subsidized for our use of the public land when the people have been able to use it for free for the last how many ever -- ever years? You know, it just doesn't -- if any -- is hollow, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you know that the big companies are being able to -- they're making all this money off the public lands, and we're paying for it. And we can't even go out and use an area, you know, and use it, take a shower without -- I know -- at least that hasn't come around here, as far as I know, but out west, you know, you go to take a shower in a public recreation area and you have to put fifty-cents in a vending machine for a minute. You know, that's a little ridiculous; isn't it?

BOB ARMSTRONG: I think, really, if you -- if you'll explain how we manage the land --

A. (Male speaker): Make the corporations pay and let us subsidize for a while.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Well, I mean that -- that would be one way to do it.

BOB CURTIS: Ready to move on?

BOB ARMSTRONG: Yeah.

BOB CURTIS: Okay. Let me do a time check. It's -- I have fifteen minutes to nine, and we could stay here -- I'll stay here as long as -- I'm not sure that our reporters will stay, but I'm going to stay here as long as you all want to. I'd like to get through with the questions.

It is now a quarter of nine, and I can move on and we have -- come up with less discussion. And on some of these things, I think I already know your opinion. At least, I've gotten a good sense of your opinion. Maybe they'll move quick.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Let me suggest one thing. We have been here since 7:00. It's now quarter of nine. Let's all stand up and take a break for just about -- just stand up.

OFF THE RECORD.

(RESUMED)

--

(Raises hand.)

BOB CURTIS: Yes, sir?

A. (Male speaker): Yes. I would like for it to be on the record that -- I think I can speak for a lot of the people here, the partnerships that allow the corporations to come in and commercialize our public lands is not just a local issue. I, personally, see it as a very strong national issue, and I don't think it should be allowed on any public land.

BOB CURTIS: Okay.

A. (Male speaker): Amen!

BOB ARMSTRONG: But you've got to change the FLPMA Act, because that permits the --

A. (Male speaker): Permits. It doesn't make it absolute.

BOB ARMSTRONG: Yeah; but it lets you have commercial logging and drilling. But I, you know, I --

A. (Male speaker): -- a law that allows it but does not mean it's necessary.

BOB ARMSTRONG: I understand.

Let me say that I really appreciate this chance to be with y'all. I went down and looked at some Elk. I looked at some buffalo.

A. (Male speaker): You didn't pay to get in there; did you?

(Laughter.)

BOB ARMSTRONG: I paid $3.00 for that little biddy ticket.

(Laughter.)

A. (Male speaker): How did it feel?

BOB ARMSTRONG: But I really have -- I just had a quick visit, but I really have enjoyed the Land Between the Lakes. And I also saw turkey and deer not in the lake.

A. (Male speaker): Which you didn't have to pay for.

BOB ARMSTRONG: And I didn't have to pay for it at that point. But I really appreciate it.

Thanks a lot.

BOB CURTIS: Thank you all very much.

(APPLAUSE)

(WORKSHOP CONCLUDED: 9:35 p.m.)


This document was prepared by Wild Wilderness. To learn more about ongoing industry-backed congressional efforts to motorize, commercialize, and privatize America's public lands, contact:

Scott Silver, Executive Director,
Wild Wilderness
248 NW Wilmington Avenue,  Bend  OR 97701
Phone (541) 385-5261    E-mail: ssilver@wildwilderness.org