Monday, June 16, 2014

Federal Passports 101

This is our third year camp hosting, and one of our more challenging duties is explaining to our customers why we can’t waive the campground’s Day Use fees when they present an Interagency Recreation Pass – also referred to as a Federal Passport.
In 2007, The Federal Government announced an all-inclusive Interagency Recreation Pass titled "America the Beautiful - the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass."  We see three types of passes:
·         The Senior Pass, which is a lifetime pass available for a one-time $10 charge to anyone 62 or older.

·         The Access Pass, which is a lifetime pass available free of charge to any handicapped individual.
·         The Annual Pass, which costs $85 per year.
According to, Interagency Recreation Passes are honored nationwide at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and US Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees.
An entrance fee is self-explanatory – you pay to get past the gate.  Every National Park has an entrance gate.  But what is a standard amenity fee?  Per, examples of standard amenity areas are picnic areas, developed trailheads, and destination visitor centers.  The site explains further:
Typically, standard amenity fees are day use fees, often covered by a day or annual pass. Each site or area must contain six "amenities," which are picnic tables, trash receptacle, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.
The same publication defines Expanded Amenity Fees as fees for areas that provide direct benefits to individuals or groups.  Examples include Campgrounds, highly developed boat launches and swimming areas, cabin or lookout rentals. Services like hook-ups dump stations, special tours, transportation systems and reservation services.
So, even though a campground provides standard amenities, the fact that it is a campground puts it into the expanded amenities category and payment is required even if you have a Federal Passport. 
The good news:  Many recreation uses and activities continue to be free on all National Forests, such as general access, pass-through travel, scenic overlooks and pullouts, parking on the side of roads and walk-up camping at undeveloped sites.  Better news – most campgrounds offer ½ price on overnight camping to holders of the Senior Pass and the Access Pass. 
The Annual Pass is not honored for discounts at some campgrounds – including ours.  I haven’t found an explanation for that one.  I’ll keep looking.

No comments:

Post a Comment