Archive for Wednesday, October 20, 1993

CORPS TO CHARGE NEW LAKE FEE

October 20, 1993

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Visitors to Clinton, Perry or Pomona lakes will no longer be able to find a place to sunbathe or launch a boat for free.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will institute a $3 recreational user fee for day-use areas, including beaches, picnic areas and boat ramps.

Authorization to collect the fees was included in a new federal law that also eliminated a previous requirement for a free camping area at campgrounds operated by the Corps of Engineers.

The Corps of Engineers already collects $19 million a year for camping and special use fees, and estimates another $18 million will be collected in new fees.

But officials are unsure how much will be collected at Kansas lakes, said Larry Crump, a spokesman for the Kansas City district.

"Without knowing to what extent each lake will be affected, I don't know if we have a good guesstimate," he said.

Lake visitors will be on the honor system to put $3 in a payment box and place fee stubs on the rear-view mirrors of their vehicles, Crump said. Park rangers will make spot checks of vehicles, he said.

Visitors also will be able to purchase a $30 annual pass good at any lake operated by the Corps of Engineers nationwide.

Fees will not be charged at wayside exhibits, overlook areas, toilet facilities or general information areas.

A day-use fee already is charged at the state park areas of the lakes.

But Frank Funk, Perry Lake's project manager, said rangers may have difficulty distinguishing between visitors using day-use facilities and those who are not.

Congress instituted a day-use fee at Corps of Engineers lakes in 1973 or 1974 but backed down in the face of public opposition, Funk recalled.

"However, things have changed," he said. "The federal government is deeper in debt."

Funk said he expects the new fees will cause attendance to drop. Thus, it will be hard to predict how much additional revenue the Corps of Engineers will collect, he said.

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