The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is seeking public comment on a proposal to begin charging new recreation fees, increasing overnight fees, and removing fees from some recreation sites on the Forest.

Most — between 80-95% — of the revenue collected at recreation fee sites remains on the Forest to operate, maintain and improve recreation program facilities. Examples include: trash pickup, septic and toilet pumping, painting, cleaning, address the backlog of deferred maintenance, conduct patrols, and maintain highly used trails, shelters and campsites.

Fees are proposed based on the level of amenities and services provided, cost of operations and maintenance and market assessment.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet’s proposal includes increasing overnight fees at 15 of the 45 developed campgrounds and adding a daily shelter reservation fee for Namakagon, Mount Valhalla and Lake Owen chalets. The proposal would also add a standard amenity recreation fee to three day use areas and an expanded amenity recreation fee for a RV dump station. Fee eliminations are proposed for five day use areas and seven campgrounds.

A majority of the proposed overnight fee increases are associated with a $10 fee for electric that would be implemented as those amenities are installed and available for use on campsites. There are some double and group site fees that would be implemented when those modifications are made to campgrounds. These proposed actions are associated with management actions outlined in the forest’s Final Recreation Facility Strategy located at https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/cnnf/recreation/?cid=fseprd563055.

For developed campgrounds, the following fee changes are proposed.

There is a proposed increase of $15 for camping at Horseshoe Lake, which currently costs $12. For the campgrounds at Anvil Lake, Chippewa, Franklin Lake, Kentuck Lake, Lac Vieux Desert, Lost Lake, and Richardson Lake there is a proposed additional $10 hookup fee. These sites currently cost $15.

There is also a proposed additional $10 hookup fee for the following campgrounds, which currently cost $18: Boulder Lake, Chippewa, Franklin Lake, Kentuck Lake, and Namekagon.

New double sites at Birch Grove, Bladder Lake, Emily Lake, Moose Lake, and Richardson Lake have a proposed fee of $30. A new double site at Richardson Lake has a proposed fee of $30, with an additional $10 hookup fee. New double sites at Day Lake and Namekagon have a proposed fee of $36.

A new group site at Emily Lake has a proposed fee of $75.

The shelter buildings at Lake Owen and Namekagon have a proposed rental fee of $50, while the shelter at Mount Valhalla Recreation Area has a proposed rental fee of $75.

New day use sites including Boulder Lake boat landing and beach and the Mineral Lake boat landing have a proposed fee of $5 per day and $30 for a year.

There is a proposed amenity fee of $5 per day for use of the Boulder Lake dump station.

It is proposed that the amenity fees at Brule River, Kathryn Lake, Lake Three, Mineral Lake, North Twin, Sevenmile Lake, and Windsor Dam — which range between $7-$15 — be eliminated.

It is also proposed to eliminate the day use fees at Beck Road, Green Lake beach and picnic area, Newman Springs, Wanoka Trailhead, and West Torch Trailhead. The fees for these sites are currently $5 per day and $30 annually.

A complete list of proposed fee areas can be found on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/CNNF. As of July 1, 2019, comments are being accepted on the proposed fees. Comments can be sent to: Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Recreation Fee Proposals, 500 Hanson Lake Road, Rhinelander, WI 54501. Comment cards are available on the website, at proposed sites or by stopping at any local Ranger Station. Comments will be accepted through Sept. 5, 2019.

All comments will be reviewed by the Forest and then presented before the Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) in the winter of 2019/2020. Committee members represent a broad array of recreation interest groups to help ensure that the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable fee changes. The exact meeting time, location and agenda will be announced and the public is welcome to attend. If the fee proposals are approved by the Regional Forester, new fees would be implemented as improvements are made to recreation sites and chalet rentals are available on recreation.gov.

In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act which allows the Forest Service to retain funds collected at certain recreation sites and use these funds locally to operate and maintain and improve these sites. Before the Forest Service received the authority to retain funds locally, all fees collected by the Forest Service went to the national treasury.

For more information, questions or comments about any of these fee proposals, please visit the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest website at: www.fs.usda.gov/CNNF or Hilary Markin, Public Affairs Officer at (715) 362-1354.

(Copyright © 2019 APG Media)

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