Policy Briefing: National Recreation Lakes Act. (Rec Room)

Article excerpt

Public recreation at federal lakes is an authorized purpose but in practice has rarely been considered a priority. National policy should encourage appropriate investment in recreation facilities at federal lakes and mutually beneficial development and management agreements with state and local partners. Federal lakes collectively draw an estimated 900 million recreation visits annually, despite a clear pattern of aging and inadequate facilities. Recreation use could climb to nearly two billion visits by 2048. Existing recreation facilities have a backlog of at least $1 billion in deferred maintenance, and have concerns about public safety and environmental risks.

The proposed Recreation Lakes Act would require agencies responsible for managing federal impoundments to take actions to enhance recreation experiences, give recreation appropriate attention in agency decision-making, and establish a National Recreation Lakes Demonstration Program of up to 20 lakes. It would empower and encourage federal agencies to develop agreements with state and local and private sector recreation providers to enhance recreation opportunities.

The legislation reflects findings and recommendations resulting from a National Recreation Lakes Study Commission that reviewed current and anticipated recreation demand at federally managed man-made lakes and reservoirs. The Commission's report, "Reservoirs of Opportunity," observed that nearly 1,800 federally managed lakes currently play a critical role in meeting recreation needs, but that his role was jeopardized by deferred maintenance and outdated management practices. …