Federal Advisory Committee Considers Public Land Use Fees

Members of the Bureau of Land Management's Resource Advisory Council come to no conclusion on the issue of user fees for the nation's public lands--just one of several topics the council tackled today.

The 15–member Northwest Resource Advisory Council is one of three groups statewide appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to advise the BLM in Colorado.

Members today received reports from BLM managers and discussed how to manage infestations of mountain pine beetle that is killing lodgepole pine by the millions, but it was the issue of charging people to explore public lands that brought the most talk.

Committee Chair Jeff Comstock says the issue is a big one because of the variety of users of public lands, including ranchers, energy companies and private citizens. Some say the public should pay to use the land for play just as ranchers pay to run cattle on public lands.

The BLM says fees are needed because recreation management cost the Bureau money with few returns on investment.

The Council decided to create a committee to study the issue before advising the BLM on how to proceed on the contentious issue.