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Ottawa National Forest Recreation Areas Fee Changes

The Ottawa National Forest is implementing fee increases at signature recreation sites across the Forest in summer 2018. 

All new fees were approved by the Eastern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) in April 2017. Committee members represented a broad array of recreation interest groups to help ensure that the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable fee changes. Fees are assessed based on the level of amenities and services provided, cost of operations and maintenance, and market assessment.

Most (80-90%) of the revenue collected at recreation fee sites remains on the Forest to operate, maintain and improve the facilities and recreation programs. Fees are used to maintain day-use sites including trash pickup, septic and toilet pumping, painting, and cleaning, and to address the backlog of deferred maintenance. Fees may also be used to conduct patrols and maintain highly used trails, shelters, and campsites, and to assist visitors with information and education services.

New day use fees and changing the fee structure of seasonal docking space at Black River Harbor were approved by the RRAC, but will not be implemented in 2018 due to the dock reconstruction project affecting access to portions of the recreation area.

Specifically, the following fees will be implemented in 2018:

  • A new fee at Lake Ottawa recreation area of $5 daily, $30 annually. The current fee of $5 daily for Sylvania Recreation Area will remain, but the annual fee at Sylvania will increase from $20 to $30. A new annual pass will include both areas, eliminating the stand-alone Sylvania annual pass. Fees will be charged from May 15-September 30, with a fee-free day offered each week on Thursdays. All dates outside May 15- September 30 are fee-free.
  • The Lake Ottawa Pavilion and Clark Lake Day Use Building will be available for $100 per day. These fees will only be charged from May 15-September 30. However, people will be able to reserve the buildings year-round. This will eliminate conflicts with multiple groups setting up and using the space on the same dates.
  • Sylvania Backcountry Campsites will increase from $10 to $15 per night. These fees will only be charged from May 15-September 30. These developed campsites within the wilderness area have hardened tent site, a fire ring, latrine, and a site marker. Camping is only allowed at these developed campsites in Sylvania Wilderness.
  • A new fee makes Camp Nesbit available for day use at $400/day. This includes use of the dining hall, recreation hall, beach, restroom and shower facilities, and archery range. Previously, Camp Nesbit was not available for day use only. Camp Nesbit is not available prior to May 1st or after October 15, exact dates are weather dependent.
  • In addition, the Forest is changing the current overnight fees at Camp Nesbit to make them more standardized and all-inclusive. The new fees will be $10/person/night school groups and $17/person/night non-school groups.

The Lake Ottawa and Clark Lake Day Use buildings will be placed on the National Recreation Reservation Site for rental information and reservations. Sylvania Backcountry campsites are currently available on this reservation system. Visitors can make reservations via toll free number (877) 444-6777 or online at www.recreation.gov. Camp Nesbit is available for reservation by calling the Kenton Ranger District office at 906-852-3500. All other fee sites would be self-serve by paying on site or by stopping by one of our Forest Offices to obtain an annual pass.

For more information, please visit the Ottawa National Forest website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/ottawa or contact Lisa Klaus, Public Affairs Officer 906-932-1330 ext. 328.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes 20 states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9.