The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests is seeking public comment on proposed fee increases at multiple recreation sites. The fee increases would bring recreation site fees into better alignment across forest locations and with prices of other nearby private and public recreation facilities.
Forest recreation areas offer unique experiences for forest visitors that boost local economies and are not meant to compete with or undercut private businesses. Revenues from increased fees would help improve and maintain Forest Service recreation sites for years to come.
As part of this effort, the forest is proposing some changes to the forest recreation pass including adding additional locations and increasing the annual cost from $30 to $50.
The Forest Service proposes to increase the following fees on the Eastern Divide Ranger District:
- Boley Field Group Campground – from $35 to $50 per night
- Caldwell Fields Group Campground – from $35 to $50 per night
- Cascades Picnic Site – from $3 to $8 per day
- Craig Creek Group Campground – from $35 to $50 per night
- Fenwick Mines Group Picnic Site – from $25 to $50 all day shelter reservation
- Glen Alton Interpretive Site – New fee, $5 per day
- Glen Alton Cabin – New site, $125 per night
- Interior Whistlestop Picnic Site – New fee, $5 per day
- Roaring Run Picnic Site – New fee, $5 per day
- Steel Bridge Group Campground – New fee, $30 per night for 10 person site & $50 per night for 25 person site
- Walnut Flats Campground – New Fee, $16 per night
- White Cedar Horse Camp – from $15 to $18 per single and from $25 to $32 per double site.
Of the recreation fees collected, most of the funds remain on the forest to operate, maintain and improve the facilities and programs at the recreation sites. The proposed fee changes would help the recreation sites be more financially sustainable. If these fee proposals are approved, the increase would go into effect as early as spring 2025.
The national forest will continue to offer numerous free outdoor recreation opportunities such as dispersed camping, interpretive sites, observation towers, a number of developed, stocked fishing lakes, river and creek access for canoeing and kayaking, forest roads for scenic driving, numerous trailhead accesses for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, birding, wildlife photography and more.
“We recognize how important these sites are to visitors and our local communities. These fee changes will help us keep the care and maintenance of these sites sustainable and improve the visitor experience across the forest,” said Eastern Divide District Ranger Beth Christensen.
This proposal will be presented before a citizen’s advisory committee which helps ensure the Forest Service addresses public issues and concerns about recreation fees. A decision has not been made on this proposal. The public comment period will be open until October 31, 2023.