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Sierra Club Conservation Policies

User Fees of Public Lands

National Park Entrance Fees

The Sierra Club does not object to existing access fees for National Park Service units. Any increases in fees, or establishment of fees at additional units, must provide additional income for the Park Service, rather than replace existing use of general revenues. Any additional funding from fees must be used exclusively within the Park Service for research, interpretation, and park protection, excluding administrative activity and aid to concessionaires or private consumptive users. Fees should not be increased to such an extent that they deter visitors to national parks. Administrative discretion should be used in waiving fees for through traffic.

National Forest and BLM Lands

The Sierra Club is opposed to any entrance fees for recreational uses of these lands.

Wilderness and Trail Fees

The Sierra Club opposes fees for use of wilderness or trails on federal lands.

Fees for Use of Developed Facilities on Federal Lands

The Sierra Club does not oppose fees for use of developed facilities, such as improved campsites. Such fees should be charged only where their collection is cost effective and necessary for proper operation of the facility. Fees should be increased only in response to and consistent with actual increases in operating costs. Fees collected should be used to maintain existing facilities, not to expand them or develop new ones. Fees should not be charged for services aimed at education and enriching the public's visits, such as visitor centers, interpretive talks, and similar activities.

Fees for Group Outings

The Sierra Club does not oppose fees for group outings, provided outings with only nominal charges to participants that are run by non-profit organizations are exempt from any such fees.


  1. Use of volunteers for trail construction and maintenance or public lands management: The Sierra Club encourages its chapters and groups to develop service trips for trail work on local public lands. However, increased volunteer work must not be used as an excuse to cut back on the hiring of paid backcountry workers.
  2. Visitor regulation: Fees should not be used as a means of controlling visitor impacts on an area. Needed regulation can be achieved by permits or capacity ceilings, independently of fees.
  3. This policy does not apply to fees charged for special events.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, November 15, 1986

Guidelines -- Sierra Club Public Lands Recreational User Fees Policy

As reflected in our current policy, the Sierra Club remains opposed to any entrance fees for recreational uses of the National Forest System, BLM lands, and Fish & Wildlife Refuges, or for use of wilderness or trails. However, fees for use of a limited number of developed facilities may be charged. The siting of any such developed facilities must take into account conservation values, and generating revenue must never be the driving consideration. We do not consider parking areas, roads, trails, picnic tables, restroom facilities of any type, non-mechanized boat launching facilities, site-appropriate trash containers, facilities that provide for handicap access, and facilities such as visitor centers that provide basic educational services to the general public to be developed facilities. The foregoing list is for examples only and should not be taken as being all inclusive.

Sierra Club entities should, therefore, based on the above and their judgment of the local situation, oppose the institution of any user fees that would interfere with the public's enjoyment of their lands. Please refer to the policy and/or consult the Club's Recreation Issues Committee for further details on where fees are appropriate and how they should be used.

Adopted by Wild Planet Strategy Team, November 4, 2004

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