New Fees Proposed For Forest Service Recreation Areas

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Launching boats and camping could be more costly at Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forest sites.

The cost to spend a day at federal recreation areas on the Oconee and Chattahoochee national forests could be going up soon. The U.S. Forest Service is proposing increases to user fees at some Forest Service recreation areas in Georgia, including access to some boat ramps, campgrounds and day-use areas.

The proposed price hikes include 50 percent increases at most Forest Service campgrounds, with campsite fees increasing from $10 a day to $15. Boat ramp fees at Forest Service recreation areas on Lake Oconee and Lake Sinclair would increase 67 percent, from $3 per day to $5. Ramps affected are Swords, Redlands and Dyar Pasture on Oconee and Lake Sinclair Recreation Area on Sinclair.

The public is invited to provide input on the proposed fees changes until Sept. 18, 2017. Comments may be provided at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/conf/2017recfeeproposals or by visiting a Forest Service District Office.

“Public lands benefit every American, and recreation fee revenue helps protect the land and enhance recreation opportunities on our national forests,” said Forest Supervisor Betty Jewett. “We need to work together to sustain high quality recreation experiences that support local communities, make memories and nurture the land.”

A U.S. Forest Service press release stated, “The goal of these proposed changes is to establish a consistent pricing for developed recreation sites for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests. In addition, many day-use sites will now accept the suite of America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands (Interagency) passes. This provides extra value to holders of these passes.”

This annual pass costs $80 and allows access to National Parks and some other federally managed recreation areas. For more information, visit https://store.usgs.gov/pass. Before purchasing, please verify that this pass is valid for the specific Forest Service areas you frequent in Georgia. It is unclear whether the Forest Service will still offer a $25 annual pass for using boat ramps and other recreational day-use areas, or if the cost of the annual pass will increase under the proposed fee increases.  

After public comment is received, the Forest will assess the comments and concerns and then present the fee proposals to the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) this Fall. This committee will provide recommendations on the fee proposals, and the Regional Forester will make a decision on the proposals. The Recreation RAC is a citizen’s advisory committee that represents a broad array of recreation interests.

A Forest Service press release states, “Current pricing at many national forest sites have remained static for more than a decade and have not kept pace with other recreation sites with similar services and amenities. Many sites have also received various improvements and upgrades.The U.S. Forest Service will continue to offer free recreation opportunities on all national forests. However, fees may be valid or added in some areas to help pay for operations, maintenance and other services. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004 allows the Forest Service to keep 80 to 95 percent of fees collected to operate, maintain and improve the recreation sites.”

The proposed fee changes are:

Oconee Ranger District 

Recreation Site

Current Fee

Proposed Fee

Cedar Creek Shooting Range

$5.00/person

$0.00

Lake Sinclair Recreation Area 

$3.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

Swords Recreation Area

$3.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

Redlands Recreation Area

$3.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

Dyar Pasture Recreation Area

$3.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

 

Blue Ridge Ranger District

Recreation Site

Current Fee

Proposed Fee

Desoto Falls Day Use

$3.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

Desoto Falls Campground

$12.00/campsite

$20.00/campsite

Cooper Creek Recreation Area

$10.00/campsite

$15.00/campsite

Deep Hole Day Use

$3.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

Deep Hole Campground

$10.00/campsite

$15.00/campsite

 

Conasauga Ranger District

Recreation Site

Current Fee

Proposed Fee

Chestnut Mountain Shooting Range

$5.00/vehicle

$5.00/user

Sumac Creek Shooting Range

$5.00/vehicle

$5.00/user

Lake Conasauga Picnic and Swim Beach

$2.00/vehicle

$5.00/vehicle

Lake Conasauga Campground

$10.00/campsite

$15.00/campsite

The Pocket Campground

$10.00/campsite

$15.00/campsite

The Pocket Recreation Picnic Area

$0.00

$5.00/vehicle

  

Chattooga River Ranger District

Recreation Site

Current Fee

Proposed Fee

Raven Cliffs Trailhead

$0.00

$5.00/vehicle

 

For more information or to provide comments about this fee proposal for the RRAC to consider, please visit our webpage at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/conf/2017recfeeproposals.

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