||AO Submits Comments to the Forest Service
Flat Fee Policy
||The proposed flat fee policy for the Alaska Region of the Forest
Service may become the guide to the new fee policy for the rest of the nation.
AO submitted its comments on March 12th. We objected to the disparity in fees
between various activities, such as the fees for remote setting nature tours
and road based tours. Fees for remote setting nature tours are over three times
the fees for road based tours. AO also asked that the Forest Service reconsider
its efforts to turn permit fees into a profit center and to consider the public
policy implications of fee increases. The comments may be viewed under
Government Affairs, proposed rules and comments on
The Forest Service is revising its
outfitter and guide permitting policy, which is expected to be published in the
Federal Register by early summer followed by a comment period. A new policy on
fee determination will follow the permit administration policy. For more
information on the development of the new Forest Service outfitter and guide
permitting policy, see hot issues on americaoutdoors.org home page.
||Reservations Training Session
Scheduled for April 5th
||The first on-site training for reservationists for AO
members is scheduled in West Virginia on April 5th. AO is coordinating training
sessions in areas where there is interest among outfitters and 18
reservationists can attend a 6-hour session to improve sales and customer
service. America Outdoors has an agreement with Signature Worldwide to conduct
the sessions. Signature is a world leader in providing training to the
hospitality industry. 7 slots are still open for the West Virginia
||AO Representatives Meet
with the NPS
Concessions Advisory Board
||Mike Mills, owner of Buffalo Outdoor Center, and David
Brown, AO's Executive Director recently attended the NPS Concession Advisory
Board meeting for dialogue with NPS on concessions issues. Dick Linford, former
AO President and member of the Advisory Board, was also present.
Representatives from Price Waterhouse Coopers gave an overview of the
NPS proposed insurance requirements. NPS is still considering requiring
"admitted carriers" and high pollution limits but did say they are
reconsidering these issues after being advised by AO that there are no
"admitted carriers" in most segments of our industry. We also discussed the
overlays of regulations some NPS concessioners are facing after contracts are
issued, including extensive new requirements for the Environmental Management
Plan, which apply only to Category I and II contracts.
Deregulation Takes Hold in 2007
||Rate caps for electricity are due to come off in many
states in 2007. Maryland and Pennsylvania are bracing for increases of as much
as 75 to 80 percent, which would have a negative impact on the economy of those
states, according to NFIB.
deregulation was implemented by Congress ten years ago, many states have held
on to their rate setting authority. However, in 2007, the last of the
state-rate protections will expire, and the true free-market system will
finally be in place. Given the production costs for power and the antiquated
state of the power grid, some analysts predict that competition will not result
in the reduced rates that many have projected. Deregulation lowered prices in
the telephone and cell-phone industries. Difficulties with production costs and
the power grid, may not lower rates for electricity for the short term.
De-centralized generation and co-generators, who sell power back to utilities
at prevailing rates may benefit from deregulation.
||Outfitters on the Upper
Ocoee Take Out Loan to Pay for Water Releases
||Outfitters on the upper Ocoee River are required to
reimburse TVA for lost power, when water bypasses generating turbines and it is
released into the riverbed to support whitewater rafting. TVA is not regulated
by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which often mandates water
releases for recreation during relicensing. The middle stretch of the Ocoee is
also dam controlled, but a Congressional appropriation in 1984 paid for water
on that stretch for a 35 year period, which outfitters are paying back at the
cost of $1.00 per person.
upper Ocoee was developed as a site for the 1996 Olympic whitewater
competition. The Forest Service and the state of Tennessee put over $20 million
into the site for the Olympic competition, revising the riverbed with grout to
create a world-class whitewater course. Unfortunately, no plans were made to
provide water for recreation after the event, so the burden of working out a
deal fell on the 22 outfitters operating on the river. Year to year deals for
water releases were not giving outfitters enough certainty to price and promote
the upper stretch. Last year a creative solution was reached for 34 days of
scheduled water releases per year over a 12 year period. Under the contract
outfitters paid TVA over $1.3 million in advance for 12 years of water and a
grant for $600,000 covers the balance of the nearly $2 million payment.
According to press reports, TVA claims it is losing money on the deal.
A loan was arranged through the
Southeast Tennessee Development District with 8 different banks for the
outfitters portion ($1.3 million). The Ocoee River Outfitters Association is
the entity signing the contract with TVA to pay for the water and will collect
fees from its members. If the Association defaults on the loan, TVA will have
to reimburse the banks for the money advanced to pay for future water releases
on a pro-rated basis. The State of Tennessee will determine which outfitters
get to run the river and the state of Tennessee will enforce the prohibitions
for failure to pay fees.
Outdoors Marketing and Management Conference Set for Reno in 2007 and Knoxville
||Get ready for another
informative conference in 2007 as America Outdoors returns to Reno for its
Marketing and Management Conference, December 5-8 at the Silver Legacy Resort.
Make plans now to be with us in Reno for Confluence
With emphasis in marketing and improving your bottom
line, AO's conference will give you concrete ideas you can take home and use in
your business immediately. Also in 2007 a revamped networking session with
topics focused on operation issues relevant to your business will be
Knoxville Tennessee's new state-of-the-art convention center will
host the America Outdoors conference in 2008 from December 3 to 6, 2008.
||Return to top of page