Stop privatizing national forests through increases in fees

The Forest Service is proposing to charge fees on non-fee sites, increase fees at other sites, and turn backcountry administrative sites into rental cabins on the Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests. Since a private company runs the online reservation system, it would financially benefit from this proposal and would effectively serve as the gatekeeper for use of campgrounds or the proposed cabins. This is a step in the wrong direction in that it further promotes the relationship between the agency and the public to be one of business and consumer, rather than agency and citizen. The loss of more non-fee sites is a step toward charging citizens to enter national forests, which is the eventual goal of some elements of the recreation industry.



Proposal Specifics

  • The Aquarius and Purple Beach group site fees would be raised from $10 to $15 per night and the Picnic Shelter at Elk River raised from $20 to $25. The Lolo and Partridge campsites would go from non-fee sites to $12 per night. Oddly, according to the agency website, the Fish Creek picnic shelter near Grangeville would remain at $25.
  • Old administrative sites are being converted to rental cabins without public involvement under the National Environmental Policy Act. Those cabins and lookouts are deep in roadless areas and making them rental sites would conflict with the potential for future wilderness designation in places like Gold Meadows (an addition to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness), and Scurvy Mountain and Liz Creek (Weitas Creek roadless areas). Wallow Mountain is just inside the Mallard-Larkins roadless area.

Public comments are due October 14, 2016. Please consider using the below talking points to write a short letter or send an email via the comment form at the bottom of this page.

Via Mail:

Cheryl Probert
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests
903 3rd Street
Kamiah, ID  83536

Talking points to consider:

  • Non-fee camping at primitive campgrounds and charging a modest fee for developed campgrounds (which is the current situation across the National Forests) is a more egalitarian policy than charging a fee at a primitive campsite. Charging fees ultimately leads to further development of more campsites. Indeed, the Forest Service is proposing to charge a fee and further develop the primitive Partridge Creek Campground.
  • Charging fees for all public recreation uses of National Forests changes the nature of the relationship between the public, who owns the federal public lands, and the agencies, which supposedly serve the people. Fees provide incentives for the agencies to transform public land management from public benefits to profit maximization. This is a step to privatizing the public commons.
  • Under current trend, all campsites on the National Forests could eventually charge a fee. This would harm low income people who could be arbitrarily denied access to their own public lands if all campsites become fee sites.
  • There should be no more cabin rentals until the forest plan is revised. That is the proper venue for the allocation of roadless areas and recommended wilderness. In any case, the Forest Service must do an environmental analysis of the impacts that would occur from making these administrative sites public rentals.


Forest Fees

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End date: Oct 14, 2016

Signatures collected: 3

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