More than 30 Methow Valley sites affected
The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to raise usage fees at more than 60 recreation sites throughout the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and the Tonasket Ranger District of the Colville National Forest, and adding new fees at sites that have not previously required them.
The proposal includes increased fees at recreation sites including campgrounds, lookouts, trailheads and rental cabins, and establishing new fees at 25 sites. Fees would be increased or instituted at 31 recreation sites in the Methow Ranger District.
The Forest Service is soliciting comments on the fee proposals through July 31.
According to a Forest Service press release, “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,” Forest Recreation Program Manager Suzanne Cable said in the release.
Cable said that the last time the Forest Service imposed fee increases at recreation sites in the Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest was in 2010.
Forest Service staff will review any public comments before recommending fee changes to a citizen advisory committee by this fall or winter. That committee will in turn make 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, according to the release. The exact meeting times, location, and agenda of the advisory committee will be announced on the forest website and through local media.
“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.”
Proposed changes in the Methow Ranger District include new fees ($5) for several popular trailheads such as Rattlesnake Creek, Goat Peak, Foggy Dew and Crater Creek, which have been free in the past. Other proposed increases range from $2 up to $32 for the Mystery and Nice group campgrounds. The Blackpine Lake picnic area, now free, would have a $5 usage fee.
Sites with proposed changes can be found at this link: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/rec-fee-proposal.
Comments on the proposed fee increases should be mailed to: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, 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.
Questions on fees proposed for specific sites should be directed to the district where that site is located. Call the Methow Ranger District at 996-4000.