National park lands are not free. Protecting our natural and cultural heritage and providing a safe, enjoyable, and educational place to visit requires substantial funding. Although your taxes help offset the costs of operating parks like Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, they do not cover all of the costs. As expenses to maintain and staff the parks rise each year, government funding is unable to keep up.
The Recreational Fee Demonstration Program (Fee Demo) was instituted in 1997 and ended on December 31 2004. This “demonstration” program authorized 100% of the revenue generated by charging fees to be returned to the National Park Service, with 80% remaining at the site where it is collected and 20% to be used Servicewide at the Director's discretion. In 2005 the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act replaced the Fee Demo program and is the Congressional authority that is currently used by the National Park Service to collect fees.
As a part of the Fee Demo program Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area collected a daily or annual parking fee from visitors. In 2005, with the new Act, the park changed to collecting an entrance fee instead of a parking fee. This change allowed visitors to use their "America the Beautiful" pass. This change also allows all fees collected in the park to be spent in the park. The funds are used to accomplish projects that the park has been unable to fund through yearly Congressional allocations.
Recent projects at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area made possible by your fees: