National Forests: Administration of Outfitter and Guide Policies at the Gallatin Forest - GAO Report
|Date:||Aug. 22, 1990|
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Conflict of interests
Management information systems
National recreation areas
Forest Service Outfitter Permitting Program
Gallatin National Forest (MT)
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed: (1) the Forest Service's oversight of outfitters' use of the Gallatin National Forest in Montana; and (2) alleged Forest Service favoritism toward certain outfitters.
GAO found that: (1) the Service and outfitters have been involved in a controversy since 1988, when the Service began requiring outfitters to have permits for daytime operations; (2) the Service wanted to limit outfitters' forest use because it believed that their activities had an adverse impact on other recreation visitors; (3) the Service used historical use levels to set standards for outfitters' use of the forest; (4) outfitters contended that historical use was not an acceptable standard and that the forest could sustain higher levels of use; (5) a Service task force involving outfitters plans to establish new criteria for determining use levels, but will not determine the recreation activity level the forest is capable of sustaining; (6) the Service's use of historical data did not provide it with an adequate basis to manage the forest in accordance with federal policy, since historical data did not reveal whether the forest could sustain a higher level of use or whether the service level should be maintained to protect resources; (7) the Service provides approximately 40 percent of all recreation days spent on federal lands each year, and the public demand for recreational opportunities on federal lands is increasing; (8) it could not determine whether alleged Service favoritism toward certain outfitters actually occurred; and (9) the Service's procedures do not provide adequate internal safeguards to ensure that favoritism does not occur.