Fee changes go into effect this season for many Forest Service recreation sites in central Washington

NCW  – As recreationists plan their summer trips they may notice new fees at a number of recreation sites on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. After extensive public outreach and consultation, the forest received approval from Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa to implement fee changes and establish new fees at certain recreation sites. Visitors started seeing the new fees in place as recreation sites opened for the summer recreation season.

“Raising fees will help offset the increased costs of maintenance at the sites. We are grateful for the support we received to make these changes,” said Forest Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail. “This is a much needed adjustment, as the last time fee increases occurred on recreation sites in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest was in 2010.”

A list of the approved fee sites is available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/recreationfees

The Northwest Forest Pass, Interagency Annual Pass, and other passes normally accepted at day use sites will be accepted at new day use fee sites and continues to be accepted at previously established day use fee sites.

A public comments period on the proposed changes was conducted in the summer of 2021. Comments from the public were considered and the proposal was presented to the Okanogan-Wenatchee Resource Advisory Committee in October 2021. The committee recommended approval of the proposed fee changes, which then went to the Regional Forester for final approval. This decision includes sites on the Tonasket Ranger District, which is now administered by the Colville National Forest.

 “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.

Fee increases will not immediately be in place at all approved sites. Some sites are currently closed due to fire impacts or other maintenance needs or are getting upgrades to improve conditions before implementing raised or new fees, while some need fee collection infrastructure and signs installed before fees can be collected.

The majority of campgrounds and recreation sites have been opening normally for the season as permitted by snow melt and site conditions. Most campgrounds will be open in time for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to the camping season. There are still several sites affected by fire impacts from last season or that may have remaining maintenance needs before they can safely open, so users are encouraged to check on status ahead of their visit.

Forest Recreation Program Manager Suzanne Cable notes, "Not all sites become accessible at the same time. It takes time to get to sites ready and some sites may have sustained damage over the winter that takes longer to repair. Although many trails have melted out, we had several late season snow storms this year so please be patient and prepared for patches of snow and down trees blocking trails during the early part of the season and until late summer for higher elevation areas. It's important to check conditions before your visit to ensure the location you have in mind is open and accessible."

Information on recreation sites is available on the forest website at Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest - Recreation.


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