The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a proposal to increase quota hunt permit fees for three national wildlife refuges, citing increasing administrative costs and lack of an increase in almost 20 years.
The refuges are Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge, Overflow National Wildlife Refuge and Pond Creek National Wildlife Refuge. All of the refuges are located in south Arkansas.
Beginning July 1, the USFWS is proposing to increase the current $12.50 fee for successful applicants to a $5 nonrefundable application fee for all applicants and a $15.00 hunt permit fee ($14 permit Fee and $1 processing fee) for those successfully drawn.
Refuge fee prices and structures have remained unchanged for the refuges since 1996. Although the fees have stayed the same, the administrative costs for the public use program continue to rise. The proposed modification to increase the recreational fees and retain a portion from all applicants will aid the refuges in supplementing the overhead costs of the program.
Since 1981, the USFWS has had authority to collect recreation fees. Since 1997, the USFWS has been able to retain fees collected at the station, first under the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program and then, in 2004, under the authority of Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. The FLREA was established to provide funding for recreation program improvements. Typical projects paid for by recreation fee funds include road and parking lot maintenance, brochures, signage, and trail maintenance and improvements.
The Recreational Fee Increase Proposal is available on-line at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/felsenthal/.
Copies may also be obtained by visiting the Felsenthal NWR Headquarters/Visitor Center at 5531 Hwy 82 West in Crossett between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.