Gifford Pinchot National Forest Recreation Fee Proposal
The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is soliciting public feedback on proposed changes to recreation fees under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). These changes include new fees and fee increases at multiple sites, and several special recreation permit fees (new and increase) including: 17-day use sites, one group day use site, ten campgrounds, three group campgrounds, and seven rental cabins.
Press release July 15, 2022: Changes to Recreation Fees Proposed by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
We want to hear from you!
We are now accepting public comments on proposed changes to the management of the developed recreation program. These changes will impact campgrounds and day-use sites on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Comment period ends Sept. 16, 2022.
Proposed changes include new, increased fees at recreation sites and for certain recreation activities. These changes will help improve and maintain recreation facilities, routes and help create new opportunities!
Comments will be accepted in the following ways:
- Comment cards available at your local Forest Service Office or download a comment card (.pdf) online.
- By mail to: Gifford Pinchot National Forest Headquarters, Attn: Recreation Fees, 987 McClellan Rd, Vancouver, WA 98661
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- On the interactive mapping tool public comment site: usfs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=3aaab599927c4757a4433a727b600012
- Public Meetings:
- Packwood, WA
- Packwood Community Center, 12935 US-12, Packwood, WA 98361
- Tuesday August 2, 4:30pm-6:00pm
- Stevenson, WA
- Stevenson Community Library, 120 NW Vancouver Ave, Stevenson, WA 98648
- Tuesday August 9, 4:00pm-5:45pm
- Facebook Live - Recreation Fee Proposal - Virtual Town Hall Meeting, Thursday August 18, 4pm-6pm.
- Packwood, WA
1) Select Gifford Pinchot National Forest tab, and 2) scroll down to get the forest specific map with site locations.
*View full interactive mapping tool public comment site in a new browser.
Located in southwest Washington State, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest encompasses 1,312,000 acres and includes the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The Forest has operated a recreation fee program since 1997. During the past 25 years, the fee program has undergone numerous changes due to public input, legislative action, and program development. The fee program helps provide funds to operate the Forest's challenging recreation program, meet public expectations for high quality recreation opportunities, and address deferred maintenance.
While the revenue derived from fees is a critical component, it is only part of a more comprehensive funding strategy that includes appropriated dollars, grants and agreements, and partner and volunteer support.
Frequently Asked Questions
We encourage the public to get involved in this process as public input is a critical part of the fee establishment process. Getting involved is a great opportunity to help shape the future of your public lands.
In the past few years, we have seen a large increase in the number of forest visitors which has impacted many popular developed recreation sites. The cost of maintenance and improvements to these heavily used sites exceeds the revenue generated from recreation fees and congressionally appropriated dollars.
These proposed new and increased fees will assist the Forest in closing that gap and continue to maintain sites to the level visitors have come to expect, as well as expand current opportunities, such as adding new cabin rentals to the reservation system. Raising the revenue collected through recreation fees would help the forest improve infrastructure at campsites and day-use sites. The resources derived through collection of fees create a more financial sustainable developed recreation program for the benefit of future generations.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) authorizes the Forest to keep 95% of revenue generated at recreation sites where a fee is charged. This source of funds is critical to effectively address maintenance and operation needs at campgrounds and developed day use areas.
Recreation fee revenue has been used on projects that improve the visitor experience, such as: restroom upgrades, trail repairs and improvements, campground improvements, historic structure enhancements, education and visitor interpretation programs, on-site accessibility improvements, trash and graffiti removal, Forest Service presence to discourage illegal activity, vandalism repairs and hazard tree removal. Our annual reports details how funds have been used: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fsbdev2_026999#giffordpinchot.
While the revenue derived from fees is a critical component, it is only part of a more comprehensive funding strategy that includes appropriated dollars, grants and agreements, and partner and volunteer support. Every year we work with partners and volunteers to leverage fee dollars to complete projects such as developed recreation site improvements and maintenance, trail maintenance, and education efforts.
The Forest Service engages in an intensive public involvement process for every fee change including new fees, fee increases and decreases, and fee eliminations. This public involvement process includes a Federal Advisory Committee review.
An analysis is used to help units determine the correct price range for facilities like campgrounds and day use sites. This tool has a point system for available amenities and shows an appropriate fee range to include in a fee proposal. Also included is an analysis of other public and private developed recreation site providers, like a market analysis.
Many recreation sites offer limited amenities or visitors services and are free of charge. Other sites charge recreation fees; in exchange, these recreation areas offer visitor services and amenities such as restroom facilities, trash collection, visitor security, and interpretive services.
As required by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA), proposed new fee sites either already have all the required amenities, or the required amenities will be installed prior to charging the fee.
If the proposed changes in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest fee proposal are implemented, about 70 percent of the 234 developed recreation sites on the Forest would remain non-fee or free of charge.
A map for Cat Creek OHV area is located online: Cat Creek OHV Area map (.pdf)