Fee changes proposed at selected Forest Service recreation sites in central Washington

Submitted by Victoria Wilkins, Public Affairs Officer

The Tyee Lookout on the Entiat Ranger District is one of several new fee sites proposed. The lookout would be made available for reservations for overnight use. Courtesy photo by Kate Galambos. A family of campers enjoys the amenities at an Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest campground. USDA Forest Service photo.

Wenatchee – The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proposing to raise fees and establish new fees at certain Forest Service recreation sites in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Tonasket Ranger District of the Colville National Forest and is soliciting comments from the public now through July 31, 2021.

 Fee changes are being considered to allow the forest to continue to provide services, such as garbage collection and drinking water, and to provide for the health and public safety expected by visitors at recreation sites. These fees will also be used for large scale maintenance and improvement projects at sites where fees are collected.

 “Raising fees will help offset the increased costs of maintenance at the sites,” said Forest Recreation Program Manager Suzanne Cable. “The last time fee increases occurred on recreation sites in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest was in 2010.”

Public input on the proposed changes is a welcome and a valued part of the overall process. Forest Service staff will evaluate and later present the public comments and input to a citizen advisory committee. The advisory committee will review all recommended fee changes before making recommendations to Forest Service Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa, top manager over all national forests in Oregon and Washington. Changes would not go into effect until after Casamassa’s approval.

 “Once approved, the dates the fee changes go into effect will vary,” Cable said. “We don’t plan to increase fees at all approved locations at the same time.”

 The proposal includes changing fees at over 60 recreation sites including campgrounds, lookouts, trailheads, and rental cabins across the forest and establishing new fees at 25 sites. Sites with proposed changes can be found at this link: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/rec-fee-proposal

  “Recreation fees and money collected from overnight rentals and campgrounds is kept on the forest to operate and maintain these sites. Besides routine operation and maintenance, monies are used to chip away at major projects to reduce backlog maintenance, fix old or install new picnic tables and toilets, and more,” Cable said.

 Forest Service staff hope to present the proposed fee changes to members of the Resource Advisory Committee for review fall or winter of 2021. The public is welcome to comment in writing prior to advisory committee meetings. The exact meeting times, location, and agenda will be announced on the forest website and through local media.

 Comments on the proposed fee increases should be mailed to Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, ATTN: Recreation Fees/Suzanne Cable, 215 Melody Lane, Wenatchee, WA 98801, or emailed to SM.FS.FeeProposal@usda.gov. Comments must be received by July 31, 2021 to be considered.

Questions on fees proposed for specific sites should be directed to the District where that site is located.

Chelan Ranger District 509-682-4900; Cle Elum Ranger District 509-852-1100; Entiat Ranger District 509-784-4700; Methow Valley Ranger District 509-996-4000; Naches Ranger District 509-653-1401; Wenatchee River Ranger District 509-548-2550; Wenatchee River Ranger District 509-548-2550; Tonasket Ranger District (Colville) 509-486-2186.

 

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