BLM Extends Time on Commercial Recreation
Defines enforcement of fee violations
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is amending its regulations on Special
Recreation Permits and Recreation Use Permits to provide better customer
service to the public, reduce administrative paperwork, and provide consistent
law enforcement at fee sites on BLM-managed public lands.
Special Recreation Permits
The maximum term for Special Recreation Permits, now issued for up to
five years, has been doubled. The new rule does not automatically set
the term of all permits at 10 years, but simply allows field managers
to select an appropriate term for up to 10 years. The BLM will consider
the purpose of the permit, the needs of the permittee, and the public
interest in determining the appropriate term.
The BLM will continue to monitor operations conducted under a Special
Recreation Permit and will evaluate the operator each year to determine
if he or she is in compliance with the terms of the permit.
Recreation Use Permits
The amendment of regulations for Recreation Use Permits for Fee Areas
establishes that the BLM will cite and penalize persons using campgrounds
and other fee areas if they do not
- obtain a permit,
- pay necessary fees, or
- display proof of payment according to BLM instructions posted at
The BLM may also cite and penalize people if they use forged permits
or use another person’s permit. This new section also states that
failure to display proof of payment on a vehicle parked in a fee area
is evidence of non-payment. This strengthens the BLM’s enforcement
capability and reduces costs by establishing an evidentiary threshold
that the defendant must overcome or be found guilty.
The BLM, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior, manages more
land — 261 million surface acres — than any other Federal
agency, mostly in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with
a budget of about $1.8 billion, also administers 700 million acres of
sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use
mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands
for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau
accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock
grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving
natural, historical, cultural and other resources on the public lands.
BLM Changes to Permits for Recreation on Public Lands
Special Recreation Permits:
- Nearly 100 comments were received on BLM’s proposed rule, published
in the Federal Register October 1, 2002. Of those comments, 88 supported
extending the maximum term without reservation. The remainder expressed
support for the change if the BLM would base its determination of the
permit term on the performance of the permittee.
- Special Recreation Permits are generally obtained by commercial outfitters
and guides, including river-running companies (about 3,000), sponsors
of competitive events (about 1,000), “snow bird” seasonal
mobile home campers who use the BLM’s long-term visitor areas
(about 14,000), and private individuals and groups using certain special
- The increase of the maximum term for Special Recreation Permits will
affect primarily the first of these categories – commercial outfitters
and guides, which include river-running companies.
- The rule does not change the fee structure at all, but benefits these
businesses by giving them a more secure permit tenure, which will help
them justify financing from lenders.
- The existing regulations are in 43 CFR part 2930.
- Other sections of the existing regulations on recreation authorizations
(see section 2932.56) provide for the amendment, suspension or revocation
of the permit if an operator violates permit stipulations. These provisions
apply to all permits, regardless of term length.
- Permittees are subject to rigorous monitoring and may lose their permits
for poor performance under other provisions of the regulations (see
- If there is a problem with noncompliance, the burden is on the operator
to prove that he or she has remedied the problem.
- The BLM will determine the appropriate term of the permit on a case-by-case
basis. The BLM will consider each application separately and may issue
a permit for any period of time from the 10-year maximum term to a season
or even a single day.
- The 10-year term will be more desirable from both a business and a
land management perspective.
- It will allow outfitters, guides and river-running enterprises
- avoid the expense and inconvenience of more frequent permit
- secure financing more easily (based on lenders knowing that
permit terms are longer), and
- engage in long-term business planning.
- For BLM staff, the amendment should lead to a small reduction
in administrative costs by reducing the analysis and paperwork required
for more frequent permit renewal. The longer- term permits will
also allow BLM managers greater range and flexibility when setting
a term, taking into account:
- the level of permittee investment,
- geographic location and resource considerations,
- anticipated changes or time frames in land use allocations
or planning decisions,
- BLM experience in managing and monitoring the type of permitted
- the type, complexity and extent of the proposed activity.
Recreation Use Permits for Fee Sites:
- During fiscal year 2001, the BLM issued about 670,000 Recreation
Use Permits for use of fee sites, with revenues totaling about $3.9
million. The cost of such a permit averaged a little under $6 each.
- The final rule does not affect fees and should have no effect on the
number of Recreation Use Permits the BLM will issue.
- This rule adds a section to 43 CFR part 2930, subpart 2933, prohibiting
- the failure to obtain a permit,
- the failure to pay for a permit, and
- fraudulent use of permits or other documents to avoid paying a
- Once the BLM establishes that the defendant did not display a permit,
the defendant has the burden of overcoming the presumption of non-payment
by proving that he or she paid the fee.
- The new section also lists the penalties that may be imposed upon