Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New or Increased Recreation Fees Proposed for National Forests in North Carolina

Recreation managers at the U.S. Forest Service want to make visitors aware of a proposal to increase fees or adopt a new fee at seven recreation sites within the national forests in North Carolina. If adopted, the fee changes would be implemented in two phases over a two-year period:

Pisgah National Forest:

* Sliding Rock Recreation Area – Daily fee would increase from $1 to $2. Annual passes would remain at $25. Additional revenue is required to operate this extremely popular site, which often receives 1,000 or more people a day. Fee revenue will provide expanded hours for lifeguards and pay for the maintenance of a highly used site.

Nantahala National Forest: The fee increases would standardize rates across the three shooting ranges. The fees are needed to address the maintenance needs and costs associated with increased visitation. The impacted sites include Dirty John Shooting Range, Moss Knob Shooting Range and Panther Top Shooting Range. Purchasing the annual pass will allow shooters to use all three ranges in Nantahala National Forest.

The Forest Service has made numerous improvements to many of the above-mentioned sites. While fixed costs have increased, recreation fees have remained static for a number of years. The fee increases would both be consistent with inflationary costs as well as ensure that fees are more comparable to similar public and private sites in their respective areas.

All fee change proposals will be presented before a citizen’s advisory committee, called the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC). Committee members represent a broad array of recreation interests to help ensure that the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable fee changes. Committee members will help ensure that the Forest Service addresses public issues and concerns about recreation fees. The public is welcome to attend and comment at all advisory committee meetings. The next RRAC meeting is expected to be held in spring 2013. The exact meeting time, location and agenda will be announced on www.fs.fed.us/r8/. If approved, the Forest Service will implement the fee changes later in 2013.

In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which allows the Forest Service to keep 95 percent of fees collected at certain recreation sites and use these funds locally to operate, maintain and improve the sites.

For more information on the fee proposals above, as well as other in the Uwharrie National Forest and Croatan National Forest, please click here.

Comments can be sent to comments-southern-north-carolina@fs.fed.us through February 28. For additional information about any of these fee change proposals, please contact Delce Dyer, recreation program manager, at 828-257-4256.

Hiking in the Smokies

1 comment:

Sedona Hikes said...

As long as it goes to the upkeep and protection of the forests, I don't see any problems with the changes or increases.