Big Fee Increase At Las Cruces Natural Areas May 1
Las Cruces, NM–In what it calls an effort to maintain and improve facilities and services at three popular fee sites, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Cruces District is increasing visitor fees effective May 1, 2012. There have been no fee increases at the sites since 1996 when fees were first established. The sites include the Dripping Springs Natural Area and Aguirre Spring Campground in the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, NM, and the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, near Tularosa, NM.
The new fees for day use at all three sites will be $5/vehicle/day, up from $3/day. Camping is also available at both Aguirre Spring Campground and Three Rivers Petroglyph site and fees for camping are $7/campsite. Fees are collected when visitors arrive, either by on-site BLM volunteer hosts, or by submitting payment in envelopes provided at fee kiosks near the entry locations.
The Las Cruces District also provides an optional yearlong pass that is $30. This pass covers day use at all three sites and is considered a tremendous value for regular/repeat visitors to the sites. These passes are available at the Las Cruces District Office or from the hosts at the recreation sites.
An additional option for entry fees includes the America the Beautiful Passes. These include the Annual Pass which is $80/year; the Access Pass which is free for the disabled; and the Senior Pass which is a one-time cost of $10. These passes provide full coverage for day use fees at these and many other federally-managed sites throughout the country. The Senior and Access Passes also provide for 50 percent discount on camping fees. These passes can be purchased at the Las Cruces District Office, or online at the National Park Service website:http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm
The BLM has increased the fees in accordance with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) 2006. This requires a recommendation from the Resource Advisory Council (RAC) and documented “general public support” for the recommendation. This information was presented to the Las Cruces District RAC on January 25, 2012. According to BLM’s analysis of public input received, there is general public support for the proposed fee increase and the RAC concurred with a recommendation for BLM to increase the fees as proposed.
The intent of the fee program is to fund needed public services while protecting and enhancing public land and natural resources. The primary use of fees is for the maintenance of existing facilities, services, and operations. Fees will also be used for low-level development such as site leveling, interpretation, shelter maintenance/re-construction and trail maintenance and upgrading.
The annual cost of operating and maintaining the three sites is $217,800. The Average Revenue collected for the three sites under current fee schedule is $74,138. Although BLM says it does not expect to cover all costs of operation/maintenance, it says costs so far out run revenues.