July, 2003. Yesterday's vote on the DeFazio/Bradley Amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill failed to block the extension of the Fee Demonstration Program, with 184 Ayes, 241 Noes. The amendment would have ended the unpopular program, which has been in effect for 7 years.
"We lost the vote yesterday but we're going to win the war. Never before has Congress demonstrated such strong opposition to fee-demo. Yesterday's strong showing in the House greatly increases the probability that the Senate WILL NOT approve a fee-demo extension" said Scott Silver of Wild Wilderness, a Bend, Oregon watchdog group. According to Silver, residents in states that do not have much federal land have not voiced opposition to the program. Because Western states have large amounts of public land, many recreational users oppose the fees and want the program to end.
Currently the Senate Interior Appropriation Bill does not contain fee-demo extension language. With opposition to fee-demo historically being much greater in the Senate than within the House, fee-demo opponents are optimistic. "We can, and I believe we will, prevent fee-demo from being extended beyond its current Sept '04 expiration date" he added.
Short hand written notes are best in expressing your opinion to your Senator. Letters to the Editor are also excellent. While e-mail is the least effective, faxes and phone calls are good. Contact information can be found on the web at: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ or http://capwiz.com/vys/dbq/officials. To see how your Representative voted, go to http://clerkweb.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2003&rollnumber=377. You may wish to communicate to him or her your thanks or displeasure.