Wallowa-Whitman National Forest proposes future fee changes

BAKER CITY – (Release by Wallowa Whitman National Forest) Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, the Forest Service will retain 95 percent of fees collected at most recreation sites for use in operating, maintaining, and improving these important sites and facilities for the public.  Recreation staff at the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest are asking for your input on a proposal to adjust fees at a portion of the developed recreation sites managed by the National Forest. 

The proposal is to increase fees at 28 sites and establish new fees at 24 sites where fees are not currently charged.  However, fees at most recreation sites would stay the same, and fees would even be eliminated at a few sites.  Current annual passes will still be honored at applicable sites for discounts.  Also, dispersed camping will still be available free of charge.

Why are new or increased fees necessary?  While developed recreation sites are seeing more visitation and use, there is currently not a way to pay for all necessary maintenance.  New and increased user fees would allow the National Forest to continue providing services, including pumping and cleaning toilets, which is the highest cost at most sites.  For this reason, most developed campgrounds with restrooms would see new or increased fees.

Public input is due by November 15, 2020.  The proposal will then be reviewed by an independent citizen-based recreation advisory committee.  With the committee’s approval, fee changes would go into effect no sooner than the summer of 2021.

Please click here for an overview of the proposal

Proposed fees are comparable with rates at similar recreation sites in the area, including sites managed by neighboring National Forests, Oregon and Idaho State parks, local Counties, and Idaho Power.  Sites managed by concessioners, such as Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, would not be affected by this proposal as the fees they charge are determined by a different process. 

“Over the past 15 years, most of the fees have stayed the same across the National Forest, and the majority of our recreation sites still do not require a fee,” said Tom Montoya, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor.  “However, we need keep in check with inflation and maintain what we have for the benefit of the public.  Fees are needed to continue the services we deliver at developed sites.  The fees will also be comparable with other similar sites that are adjacent to the National Forest.”

Wallowa-Whitman Engineering and Recreation Staff Officer, Dave Plummer, added: “Fee increases are needed at this time to cover increasing maintenance and operation costs at developed recreation sites, and to allow the National Forest to continue providing facilities and services used by the public at these sites.  The cost of amenities and services at some developed recreation sites require that we collect reasonable fees to pay for restroom sanitation, water testing and purification, hazard tree removal, repairs, staffing, and more.  Because our fees have not changed since 2005, we are proposing needed adjustments, and we welcome your input as part of the process.”

Public input may be submitted by November 15, 2020 via email, phone, or mail: 

Email:  sm.fs.wwnf-webmail@usda.gov  (Please include “Fee Proposal” in the subject line.)

Phone:  541-805-2769  (Please leave a voicemail with your full name, zip code, and email address.)

Mailing address:  Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Attn: Recreation Program Manager, 1550 Dewey Ave, Suite A, Baker City, OR 97814

After reviewing public input, National Forest staff plan to present the proposed changes to the John Day – Snake River Resource Advisory Council in January 2021.  Council members represent a broad array of recreation groups that will help to ensure the Forest Service is proposing appropriate fee changes and addressing public interests.  The public is welcome to attend and comment at all advisory committee meetings. 

For more information about the fee change proposal, please contact Teresa Fraser, Recreation Program Manager for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, at teresa.fraser@usda.gov