Forest Recreation Site Analysis

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest has been working to develop a strategy that will prioritize investments, as well as pursue changes in operations or maintenance of developed recreation sites and facilities to contribute to the sustainability of the Forest’s recreation program.

This strategy is intended to reduce operations and maintenance costs and maximize public benefits, while balancing social, economic and environmental factors.

The Forest has closed and/or reduced services at a small portion of recreation sites since 2015 in an effort to reduce operation and maintenance costs and balance the recreation budget.

Prior to 2015, the Forest continued to invest in the entire suite of recreation assets, however it can no longer afford to finance aging facilities, underused picnic areas, campsites and recreation areas.

The funding the Forest receives for the recreation program has remained relatively the same however, the costs to operate and maintain the sites and the amount of backlogged maintenance that continues to accrue on the aging infrastructure has made the program no longer sustainable.

To build a sustainable recreation program, the Forest went through a process called Recreation Site Analysis. The Forest analyzed 193 developed recreation sites. The draft proposed management actions were released in October 2018 proposing that 45 sites would have no changes, 22 sites would be converted to general forest area as infrastructure is removed; the remaining 126 sites would have varying proposed actions ranging from increased amenities to changes in the level of operation and maintenance.

The Forest held a comment period from October 15 to December 15, 2018, gathering feedback and comments on the draft proposed management actions. The comments received were taken into consideration as the Forest worked to finalize the 5-year Recreation Facility Strategy.

The Forest finalized the Recreation Facility Strategy on May 15, 2019. The strategy prioritizes investments and identifies changes in operations or maintenance of developed recreation sites and facilities that will contribute to the sustainability of the Forest’s recreation program.

The final strategy calls for 52 sites to remain as is and 23 sites to be converted to general forest area as infrastructure is removed. The remaining 118 sites have varying actions associated with them, ranging from increased amenities to changes in the level of operation and maintenance. Examples of improved amenities may include electrification of campsites, upgraded hand pumps, new fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms and additional improvements.

If all changes are made, the anticipated cost savings for operations and maintenance would be about $300,000 per year Forest-wide, or a reduction of about 25 percent from current costs.

The Recreation Facility Strategy identifies a reasonable array of recreation sites that can be managed to high standards and within budget without compromising the quality of services, public safety and creating undue impacts to natural resources.

The recreation program includes more than just developed recreation sites. Without these important changes the current and future projected costs of the developed recreation program will prevent the Forest from addressing other important program components, in particular, motorized trails, non-motorized trails, wilderness, dispersed recreation, interpretive programming and special uses.

2019 Recreation Facility Strategy Documents

  1. News Release
  2. Cover Letter
  3. RSA Action Summary Table by District
  4. Q and A’s
  5. Final Recreation Facility Strategy

2018 Recreation Site Analysis Documents

  1. News Release
  2. Draft Proposed Management Actions (by county)
  3. Frequently Asked Questions