FS Changes Policy on Re-issuing Permits

Forest Service Puts Recreation Business with Privately Owned Facilities Out to Bid

A recent Forest Service decision to abandon a policy of reauthorizing existing recreation special use permits and instead, putting them out to bid, jeopardizes permittees’ investments and their futures.

Never before have permittees for resorts, youth camps, outfitter-guides, marinas, shuttle systems, and ski areas faced such a serious threat to their businesses and property investment as right now.

The Term Permit Act of 1915 was designed specifically to encourage private investment in recreation facilities and improvements that serve the public.  Instead, the agency is now soliciting the highest bid for recreational permits consisting of private sector investments when the permit is up for renewal if anyone else expresses an interest in taking over the operations.   NFRA is not aware of the Forest Service ever putting out privately owned improvements for bid when there has not been a documented history of performance issues or non-payment of fees.  This case will set forth a detrimental precedent of uncertainty for every Recreation Special Use Permit holder in the country, resulting in lower quality recreation services and facilities provided in our national forests.  This new policy will have the effect of restricting any further private investment into these structures and equipment with the ultimate loser being the public.  The incentive to reinvest in the upkeep, maintenance and improvements to resorts, marinas, youth camps, ski areas, outfitter-guide operations, and other recreation facilities will be eliminated.

For details, go to:  FS Reversal of Policy – Recreation Investments at Risk

NFRA Members are encouraged to attend the 2019 Conference to learn more about the issue.
Letter to Recreation Business Owners

NFRA Goes to the Hill
In 2018, NFRA sent a group of board members to Washington DC in January to meet with Congressional Representatives, Senators, and committee staff to discuss the Forest Service decision to put recreation businesses out to bid.  In addition, the group met with representatives at USDA to air their concerns.  NFRA members who attended, and staff from Summit Strategies (lobbyist group) included:

Marily Reese, NFRA Executive Director
Bob Coe – Pahaska Tepee Resort, Wyoming
Stephanie and Ryan Cooke – Lake Ocoee Inn and Marina, Tennessee
Kevin Garden – The Garden Law Firm, Virginia
Jerry Hamby – Lake Ocoee Inn and Marina, Tennessee
Jennifer Roeser – McGee Creek Pack Station, California

Mark Dedrick – Summit Strategies
Geoffrey Urbach – Summit Strategies

Ryan Cooke and Jennifer Roeser each submitted a re-cap of the visit.

In 2019, NFRA again sent a team of folks to Washington DC to discuss the issue of putting Term Permits out to bid.  They met with Deputy Under Secretary of USDA, Dan Jiron; Chief of the Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen; and numerous congressional representatives and staff.  It was a whirlwind visit, making the most of each day.  The Forest Service denies this is their policy, but in fact, we have letters citing this is what they MUST do each time a new permit is issued – which includes renewals.

More efforts are now underway to reach out to congressional contacts for support.  The group that visited Washington DC in April included:

Marily Reese, NFRA Executive Director
Jerry Hamby – Lake Ocoee Inn & Marina, Tennessee
Stephanie and Ryan Cooke – Lake Ocoee Inn & Marina, Tennessee
Kevin Garden – The Garden Law Firm, Virginia
Mark Dedrick – Summit Strategies, Washington DC