Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

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Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by WoodIsGood »

Understood that the BLM was expected to announce their fee plan at a meeting yesterday (April 18). What, if anything, was said?

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Doc »

Te proposed fees for the 2013-2014 season are posted on the ISDRA DSG web page.

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/ ... ummary.pdf

The proposal is to eliminate season permits and only have weekly permits.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by BHenry »

Interesting...what was the justification for eliminating season permits?
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Doc »

Not an official response but I think that the sharing of permits had something to do with it.

Also only about 20% of the permits sold are season permits so maybe they just figure that they are more trouble than just doing away with them.

This will be a problem for anyone wanting to spend a full week at the dunes if they arrive on a Friday evening and stay until the following Sunday this will be 9 days and require a second permit for the last two days of their visit.

This information needs to be disseminated so that visitors can comment back to the BLM. Although they have not asked for public comments, at this time, the public should let the BLM know what they think about this change to the fee structure.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by WoodIsGood »

Googled but couldn't find any budget info for Ocotillo Wells SVRA. Anyone know where to find this info? Would like to compare it to the ISDRA budget.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

@John, Did you get out to OW? If so, you can see the difference in the amenities and there are no fees at OW. I guess its the difference between State and Federal or apples and oranges. Of all of the Fed gov agencies I believe that BLM pulls in a lot of $$$, e.g. leasing of land, mineral rights, etc. To bad they don't use some of the revenue that is generated for their other venues.
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by WoodIsGood »

Did get out to OW, and yes, saw the significant amenities and lack of fees. That's why I want to know what their budget is. Do they really get that much more funding from the state, or do they just do a better job of spending it?

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

I wonder if you called the OW Ranger Station and inquired. They may readily provide their operating budget. I've seen a lot of improvements over the past couple of years out there. I know the all riding areas are required to institute a RAMP and that appears to be what is happening.

Looking at the proposed fee by BLM it looks like they want to generate $3.650M in permit revenues. Average ($35/week) that out per week per year and you get just over a million visitors per year. Wow :shock:

Why won't BLM breakdown their proposed budget for all to see :?:
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Doc »

Here is part of a note I sent to the BLM pointing out that if their visitation numbers are correct they will generate twice the amount they need from the proposed new fee structure.

The BLM uses 3.5 people as the average number of people for each vehicle that enters the recreation area so to calculate the number of potential vehicles that will need a permit you need to divide the number of visitors reported by 3.5. The BLM also estimates that they have a compliance rate of 90% so I used 85% to show a conservative estimate of the revenue that will be received from a $35 a week permit and visitation of 800,000.

As for the proposed fee amounts, these need to somehow be reconciled with your visitation numbers. Below are some conservative calculations of the amount of revenue that will be generated using your proposed fee values and the number of visitors that are reported.

Using the same 900,000 visitors that were stated in the report presented today.

900,000 divided by 3.5 people per vehicle times $35 times 85% compliance level.

900,000 / 3.5 X $35 /.85 = $7,650,000

Or assume that there is another 10% reduction in visitation and use 800,000 visitors.

800,000 / 3.5 X $35 / .85 = $6,800,000.

So with your projected visitation (less 10%) and proposed fee levels you can expect to receive $3,150,000 more than your projected fee revenue target.
$6,800,000 - $3,650,000 = $3,150,000

So this again points out that either your visitation numbers are off by an order of magnitude, you are not reporting or accounting for all the permits sold or you are collecting way more money than you are reporting. You need to have numbers that are defendable in your business plan and that make sense to someone that is just looking at the numbers and can do simple math.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by BHenry »

Thanks Doc, thats quite the eye-opener. If anything, fees should be going down...
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by nixsternik »

I attended the meeting. They provided a very simple handout. Here is a link to the BLM site where you can download the handout.

http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/ ... ummary.pdf

After several meetings and requests for information, the BLM has still not been able to provide us with information that substantiates any kind of a fee increase.

I'm currently working on a press release to send out to the membership.
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by azsandrider »

Here isthe e-mail I sent:

I'm am concerned about the BLM increasing the fees at the ISDRA without proper justification and oversight about how the money is spent. The BLM needs to release a comprehensive business plan outlining past and projected expenditures and estimated shortfalls along with cost cutting ideas to justify why such an increase is necessary.

The proposal also need to define what a week pass incorporates. There are many people who work alternative schedules and have the end or middle of the week off. These people will go to the ISDRA on Saturday and come back the following week. So, what is considered a week? Is a week Monday thru Sunday, or 7 consecutive days? If I go down Saturday and leave the following Friday, is that good under 1 pass or do I have to buy 2 passes; a pass for Saturday & Sunday and a second pass for Monday thru Friday?

Will they be tracking pass purchases to determine who is camping there more than 14 days in a 28 day period (per Federal rules limiting camping on Federal land) and will not sell a pass if the purchaser has already bought 2 one week passes in the 28 day period.

There is also an added increase to dune users with mailing the passes out (we know we will pay for the mailing fee) creating an extra hardship for families besides the increased fees. There will increased hassle of finding/buying passes for families, especially for those last minute trips. This will cause greater hardship for families and be an added layer of preparation for a dune trip. It gets to a point that going to the ISDRA will not be worth the bother, even if the costs are affordable.

The BLM should be working for the citizens by creating an efficient, easy to use system that is cost effective. We are going to the ISDRA to recreate, get away from life’s stresses for a short period of time. Adding additional layers of costs and obtaining passes before each trip will cause so much trouble for those dune users who frequently go to the ISDRA that they will start going elsewhere to recreate.

The administration of this purposed pass system by eliminating the season pass will add an extra layer of bureaucracy to the BLM and be very difficult & time consuming to enforce, as there will be no season pass hanging from the windshield that is easily recognized by the enforcement personnel.

Lastly, will the BLM administer the recreation fees properly as outlined under FLEA? Instead as an entry pass as currently administered?
(The above statement is my own opinion and not that of the ASA's.)

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by WoodIsGood »

Dropping this in today's mail to the BLM:
Dear BLM Administration,

I don’t have an issue with paying a nominal fee to be allowed to recreate at the ISDRA. But the latest proposal (Business Plan Summary published April 18: no annual permits and $35 weekly permits during the typical duning season) is unacceptable.

If this Business Plan is implemented, a local person who wants to spend a few hours at the dunes once a week will be charged $980/year (28 weeks x $35/week) for the privilege. That’s more than 10 times the current cost of $90 for an annual pass, and is clearly an outrageous fee for access to a local, natural, recreation area with minimal services. Heck, Disneyland only charges $649 for a totally unrestricted annual pass to both Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park!

All the other OHV areas cited in the Draft Business Plan offer an annual pass option, with the most costly being $120/year. The BLM needs to seriously reconsider its plan to eliminate the annual pass option.
- edit: fixed one of my numbers

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

So, how much revenue does the BLM receive from California off-road registration and California gas taxes? How is that money applied to the ISDRA management, administrative and operating costs? Where is it indicated in the ISDRA Business Plan Summary?? Is this monies that the BLM does not have to take into consideration? Just asking..............
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by RocketScientist »

How do they know that there is 90% compliance? Is it a wild guess, or are they ticketing people for not having a pass? If they are writiting tickets, then where is that revinue?

I go out there very often. On the off peak weekends, the law enforcement is non existant. On the peak weekends, they are like a swarm of flies. I can see how they can burn through the money in a season with all those vehicles and personel, but they are out writing tickets at an incredible rate for all kinds of violations. Where is that revinue going?

It is like cheeting on taxes. If they don't report additonal income and fudge the numbers, then they will get away with it.

I would like to point out that I've been to other blm operated camping places in the country that charge far less. Usually when there is a fee, there are improved roads, improved camp grounds, potable water, bathrooms with water, picnic tables, bbq grills, trash pickup, and sometimes showers.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Doc »

I will try and answer some of your questions.

As for the compliance question the BLM does some surveys by having BLM and contractor personnel do random checks of different areas looking for visitors that are not displaying a permit. The checks are done at different times and in different areas to hopefully get a good sampling. The contractor gets a performance bonus if the compliance percentage is above a certain number so they also are checking to see that a large percentage of visitors have a permit.

The question of where the money from citations goes depends on the type of citation. If it is federal citation the revenue goes to a federal victims fund in Washington DC and none of that revenue is seen by the BLM. If the citation was a county citation than any revenue goes to the county and may only affect the ISDRA in a roundabout way. Some of this revenue may end up with the Imperil county sheriff and then may end up supporting the sheriff’s operations at the dunes but none of the revenue comes directly to the BLM.

Your observation about fees at other BLM campgrounds reflects areas that probably had the required number of amenities to qualify for a regular campground fee. The BLM may charge a campground fee only where there are a certain number of amenities available. At the ISDRA the BLM can’t charge for camping as they don’t provide the required amenities. What you are paying at the ISDRA is a special recreation permit (SRP) fee for the use a BLM area for motorized recreation. For your information the BLM is not allowed to charge an entrance fee anywhere in the country. So if they don’t have the required amenities to charge an amenity fee the only other thing they can charge is a SRP. The SRP is what the BLM uses for any use of BLM land where they can’t charge an amenity fee such as for commercial vending, filming or off-road races.

Everyone should really contact their congressional representatives about the way the BLM collects fees as the way they charge every vehicle that enters the recreation area is not legal under the Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act (FLREA). The FLREA specifically prohibits the collection of entrance fees for any BLM lands anywhere in the country.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by WoodIsGood »

Sandcock wrote:So, how much revenue does the BLM receive from California off-road registration and California gas taxes? How is that money applied to the ISDRA management, administrative and operating costs? Where is it indicated in the ISDRA Business Plan Summary?? Is this monies that the BLM does not have to take into consideration? Just asking..............
I think the answer is little or none. The BLM can apply for grants from the CA OHV Commission, but if the grants are denied they don't get any money. So it wouldn't be wise for the BLM to count on that money for normal operations and maintenance.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

For 2012
What are OHV Grants?
The annual OHV grant application process is a key part of the partnership between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the State of California, which issues grants to a variety of entities to improve or mitigate off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation. The California State Parks OHV program accepts grant applications from a number of agencies including federal, county, and city law enforcement and parks departments, and from non-profit organizations. This year, more than $22 million is available for allocation. Under this process, BLM applies for grants from the State each year to help fund and coordinate its OHV programs.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmspri ... ocess.html

Does anyone know if the ISDRA BLM requests and receives any grant money? It would be good stewardship for the BLM to take advantage of the grants. It could benefit their budget by off-setting maintenance costs which could have some bearing on the permit fee.
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Doc »

Sandcock wrote:For 2012
What are OHV Grants?
The annual OHV grant application process is a key part of the partnership between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the State of California, which issues grants to a variety of entities to improve or mitigate off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation. The California State Parks OHV program accepts grant applications from a number of agencies including federal, county, and city law enforcement and parks departments, and from non-profit organizations. This year, more than $22 million is available for allocation. Under this process, BLM applies for grants from the State each year to help fund and coordinate its OHV programs.
http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/palmspri ... ocess.html

Does anyone know if the ISDRA BLM requests and receives any grant money? It would be good stewardship for the BLM to take advantage of the grants. It could benefit their budget by off-setting maintenance costs which could have some bearing on the permit fee.

Yes the BLM ECFO does request grants from California OHV grant fund. The amount available for the 2013-2014 garnt cycle is about $11M.

The grant public comment period ended on April 1 and these comments and other data on the grant requests can be be viewed at http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1164. The BLM ask's for O&M grants for such things as trash service and other O&M items at the ISDRA.
The grants are scored and based on the scoreing a decision on the amout of the grant request that will be awarded is made.

Here is a listing of the amount of grant dollars awarded to the ECFO in the 2011/2012 grant cycle. http://ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/file ... -award.pdf

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

Thanks for info Doc. Its hard for me and others to understand the proposed permit fee increase. A summary proposal is just not good enough when they are proposing a substantial increase in the permit fee.
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Doc »

If you want to see an organization that has had some success in fighting recreation fees go to this web site.

http://westernslopenofee.org/

The Western Slope No Fee Coalition (WSNFC) has worked to generate litigation to remove the illegal fees in the forests of Southern California. These fees are similar to the illegal fees that are charged at the ISDRA. In the forest they can't charge for just stopping to have lunch and at the ISDRA they can't charge just to drive into the recreation area but they do. The FLREA specifically prohibits the BLM from charging an entrance fee but that is how they collect the ISDRA fees.

The WSNFC has been successful in litigation with the forest service and has had the 9th district court of appeals support the claim that the forest service can't charge a fee for just visiting the forest.

http://westernslopenofee.org/index2.php ... &newsid=36

Perhaps if more people would support the WSNFC they could be persuaded to support the ISDRA issue of the improper collection of the ISDRA fees. They have the resources and knowledge to get things done.

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

Again thanks for the info Doc. I checked out the web site and signed up for their newsletter. I checked out the interactive map and the ISDRA is on they're "Dirty Dozen - Worst of the Worst" list. Wow. I'm going to post the wed address on the ASA's fb page others that only use fb.

Nicole posted this on ASA's fb page which is quite interesting: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/elcentro ... _work.html and this: http://www.blm.gov

Per the links, the projected revenue for FY 2012 was $2,708,000. Their new proposal according to the summary is $3,650,000.00. That's an increase of $942,000.00 or close to a 35% increase. @Doc: Is this what you are seeing?

ASA's fb: https://www.facebook.com/groups/82231739000/
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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by nixsternik »

Link to an article that appeared in today's Yuma Sun Newspaper on the topic. http://www.yumasun.com/articles/blm-871 ... -site.html

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Re: Fee plan for 2013 - what's the latest?

Post by Sandcock »

The real egalitarians are not the people who want to redistribute wealth to the poor, but those who want to extend to the poor the ability to create their own wealth, to lift themselves up, instead of trying to tear others down. Earning respect, including self-respect, is better than being a parasite. Thomas Sowell

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