Recreation Fee Program
Why Do We Have Fees?
Congress recognized that recreation sites across the country had historically been under-funded and as a result were in desperate need of financial assistance to offset the high costs of protecting, operating and maintaining the sites. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 (P. L. 108-444), Recreation Fee Program authorized the BLM and other federal agencies to implement innovative fee collection activities at recreation sites across the country in order to offset operations and maintenance costs. 100% of the fees collected at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area stay at the site.
Which Pass is Best for Me?
That depends on where and how often you visit a site. Please see the Pass Choice Table for assistance in determining which will offer you the most play for the least pay in the Northwest.
Partnership in Protection
The BLM views the Recreation Fee Program as a three-way partnership between the BLM, Congress, and the public. The BLM's role is to keep costs low, Congress will continue to appropriate the funds they find reasonable, and the public is asked to support the fee sites for any budget shortfalls.
Public Input and Comments
In July and August of 2003, a visitor survey was conducted at Yaquina Head that surveyed almost 400 visitors. Five questions were asked that pertained to entrance fees. 77% of respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with the following statement: "The value of the recreation opportunity and services I experienced was at least equal to the fee I was asked to pay." When asked, "Given that the fee revenue is designated for use only at this site, would you have been willing to pay more?" 65% of those surveyed said "no." Of the 35% that said "yes," 67% of them said they would have been willing to pay a $1.00 more. 81% of those surveyed felt the appropriateness of the fees charged at this site was "about right," 17% felt it was "too high," and 2% felt it was "too low."
How Are We Doing?
On October 1, 1998 the BLM began to charge fees on a per vehicle basis (non-vehicular access is free). In fiscal 2007, $289,174 in fee revenue was received. This was programmed to provide the following services.
What Do Fees Help Pay For?
- Daily Operation: Yaquina Head is open dawn to dusk 365 days a year, a minimum of 10.5 hours per day up to a maximum of 16 hours per day. The historic lighthouse is open to the public daily as is the interpretive center (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day).
- Environmental Education: Yaquina Head staff provides environmental education activities at the lighthouse, in the interpretive center and in the tide pools. Almost 5,000 school children receive free environmental education programs each year.
- Resource Protection: The seabird communities at Yaquina Head are healthy even with years of declining seabird populations along the Oregon coast. The Marine Gardens remain one of the premier environmental education destinations on the west coast even with the heavy visitor use. The historic lighthouse is in good condition even though over 85,000 visitors tour the structure each year. These areas would not be in the excellent condition they are in were it not for the care and interest of the staff and volunteers at Yaquina Head.
- Research: Research at Yaquina Head has included working with the Universities in Oregon and Washington to conduct scientific studies that will lead to a much better understanding of whale migration, seabird survival, ocean dynamics, and visitor impacts on the intertidal area. Fees, in part, provide the funding to ensure that the BLM can continue to study and protect these valuable resources.
- Visitor Protection: Fees help provide for an increased level of visitor safety and protection. Fewer emergency incidents are the result of the vigilance provided by Yaquina Head staff, appropriate caution signage, and developed pathways throughout the site.
- Facilities Maintenance: Fees help pay for a portion of the facilities maintenance duties at Yaquina Head. This includes maintenance of the interpretive center, roads, trails, parking areas and toilets.
- Staffing: The staffing at Yaquina Head varies throughout the year. Many of the Yaquina Head staff are hired during the high visitor use periods of March through October when the site is open up to 16 hours per day. Two shifts operate to handle all of the necessary maintenance, visitor services and resource protection activities. The staff is supplemented by interns, volunteer site hosts, and individual volunteers from the local community. A large portion of the recreation fees collected pay for the field employees who are in direct daily interaction with the resources and the visitors. None of the fee revenue is used for management or administrative overhead expenses.
What Are We Doing to Keep Costs Down?
The Yaquina Head staff is constantly working on improving site accessibility to visitors while reducing costs. Cost reduction methods include: utilizing volunteers to conduct lighthouse tours and to staff the front desk in the interpretive center. Last year volunteers contributed over 4,800 hours valued at over $86,000.
Reports: Participants in the Recreation Fee Project are required to report to Congress annually. The BLM has submitted each year since inception of the program. Yaquina Head was also chosen for two reviews by the General Accounting Office (GAO) as part of a nationwide GAO review and underwent a BLM Fee Program Evaluation in the year 2001.