Groups LobbyTax to Aid Conservation Programs

WASHINGTON -- Environmental groups and state wildlife agencies are lobbying Congress for a tax of up to 5% on purchases of recreational vehicles and equipment that can be used outdoors, such as skis, backpacks and cameras.

Under the Teaming With Wildlife proposal, revenues from the tax would be used to support state-run conservation programs.

Opponents -- mainly recreational product manufacturers and outdoor activity groups -- have formed a coalition of their own called Teaming Against Taxes.

They contend the tax would unduly burden the middle class and families and do little to address "fundamental problems such as [national] park overcrowding and maintenance backlogs."

The coalition has garnered bipartisan support in the House from Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Tony Hall (D-Ohio), who are circulating a letter asking House members to oppose the proposal.

In a statement, Hoekstra said the "misguided" proposal "would even slap a tax on the backpacks that children use to carry their books to school."

The 25-member Teaming Against Taxes coalition includes the American Recreation Coalition, National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, National Ski Areas Association, Outdoor Recreation Coalition of America, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association and Snow-

Sports Industries of America.

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