Proposed changes to recreation fees identified by the Huron-Manistee National Forests

Contact(s): Susan Blake

The Huron-Manistee National Forests ranger districts are considering a proposal to charge new recreation fees at several campsites and day-use areas.

Currently, no fees are collected at more than half of the 191 recreation sites maintained on the Huron-Manistee National Forests. Several day-use sites, overnight camping sites and locations with expanded services such as boat launches or potable water are managed without user fees.

A new day use fee of $5 per vehicle is proposed for Iargo Springs Interpretive Site, McKinley Horse Trailhead, Luzerne Horse Trailhead and Eagle Run Cross Country Ski Trailhead.

New camping fees of $10 per night are proposed for Red Bridge Access, Sulak Recreation Area, McKinley Horse Trail Campsites, Buttercup Backcountry Campsites, Cathedral Pines Backcountry Group Campsite, Meadow Springs Backcountry Campsites, Bear Island Backcountry Campsites, River Dune Backcountry Campsites, Luzerne Horse Trail Campground and Government Landing Access Campsites.

New group campground fees of $45 per night are proposed for the group sites at AuSable Loop Recreation Area Campground, Mack Lake ORV Campground, Kneff Lake Recreation Area and Gabions Campground.

New group campground fees of $60 per night are proposed for the group sites at McKinley Horse Trail Campground, Luzerne Horse Trail Campground and River Road Horse Trail Camp.

These additional funds would allow the Forest to hire seasonal staff to support recreation services, to further maintain and add infrastructure within the campsites, group campsites and day-use areas.

In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA), which allows the USDA Forest Service to retain funds collected at certain recreation sites and use these funds locally to operate, maintain and improve these sites. Eighty to 95 percent of the revenue collected at recreation fee sites remains on the Forest to operate, maintain and improve the facilities.

Under REA, all new fees and fee changes must be proposed and approved by a citizen’s advisory committee, called the Forest Service Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee. Committee members represent a broad array of recreation interest groups to help ensure that the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable new fees and fee changes.

The public is invited to comment on the proposed fee changes. The comment period is set to end by close of business on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. To ensure that your comments are considered, please send your comments no later than the above date to Kristen Thrall, (Recreation Program Manager), Huron-Manistee National Forests, 1755 South Mitchell St., Cadillac, MI 49601 or

Oral comments must be provided in person at the Huron-Manistee National Forests during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by calling (231) 775-2421 and indicating you would like to provide comments on the proposed recreation fee changes. For more information on the proposed project, visit our website at

Once public involvement is complete, the new fees will be reviewed by the Eastern Regional Recreation Advisory Committee during their fall 2018 meeting. They will then submit their recommendations to the Regional Forester for a final decision.