The Coronado National Forest (CNF) seeks public input on a recreation fee proposal. Public engagement activities are upcoming to receive input from partners, tribes and the public regarding the proposal.
The fee proposal applies only to Forest Service operated developed recreation sites such as picnic areas, campgrounds, and group sites. Day-use sites are proposed to change from $5 to $8 per day. The Coronado annual pass is proposed to change from $20 to $40. Campground fees are proposed to change from $10 to $20 per night. Finally, group sites (both picnic and camping) are proposed at a $50 flat fee, plus $10 per vehicle per day.
The fee proposal also includes new fees at 23 day-use sites, five campgrounds, and seven group sites.
The proposed new fee sites are:
Day-use Sites: Bigelow Trailhead, Brown Canyon Ranch, Butterfly Trailhead, Carr Canyon Picnic Area and Trailhead, Cunningham Trailhead, Gordon Hirabayashi Interpretive Site and trailhead, Herb Martyr Trailhead, Kentucky Camp, Noon Creek Picnic Area, Parker Canyon Lake Fishing and Boating Site (and nature trail), Pena Blanca Lake Fishing and Boating Site, Red Rock Picnic Area, Reef Townsite Mining Interpretive Trail, Reef Trailhead, Riggs Lake Fishing and Boating Site, Round-the-Mountain Trailhead, Rucker Forest Camp Trailhead, Sawmill Trailhead, Shannon Trailhead, Soldier Creek Trailhead, Upper and Lower Thumb Rock Picnic Area, Whipple Picnic Area and Trailhead, Windy Point Vista Day-use Area.
Campgrounds: Clark Peak Corrals, Herb Martyr, Round-the-Mountain, Stockton Pass, Sycamore.
Group Sites: Columbine Visitor Center Ramada, Gordon Hirabayashi Horse Camp, Stockton Pass, Treasure Park, Twilight, Upper Arcadia, Upper Hospital Flat.
CNF operates and maintains approximately 204 fee and non-fee developed recreation sites. Recreation fee sites provide amenities such as picnic tables, restroom facilities, trash receptacles, designated parking, visitor security and interpretive signs, exhibits or kiosks.
Most lands on the Forest are not considered developed areas and are available for use free-of-charge. However, fees are charged at some developed recreation sites to be used for operations, maintenance, and replacement costs. Eighty to 95 percent of the fees collected remain on the Forest to be used for fee sites.
The estimated costs of maintaining all developed sites are $3.8 million per year, which does not include additional services provided for visitors such as maintaining trails, and managing remote camping areas.
The revenue to operate and maintain the developed recreation sites totals approximately $1.3 million annually, which falls about $2.5 million short of needed funds. Approximately 50% of that funding comes from tax dollars allocated by Congress. The remaining 50% comes from the collection of fees.
The CNF works with numerous partners and volunteers which help reduce the cost of maintaining sites.
In addition, to reduce costs the CNF has closed sites, removed facilities, and installed lower-maintenance facilities. These actions contribute to sustainability, but are not sufficient to close the gap between costs and revenues.
CNF invites input on the fee proposal.
In the coming months, Forest personnel will engage with the public, tribes, stakeholders and partners to receive input regarding the proposed fee changes. Field-going personnel will be available for conversations with Forest visitors.
Each of the five ranger districts (Douglas, Nogales, Safford, Santa Catalina, and Sierra Vista) will host open house-style meetings during which interested parties may discuss the fee proposal with Forest personnel and fill out comment cards. Meeting dates are as follows:
Safford Ranger District: Wednesday, April 18, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Safford Library, 808 S. 7th Avenue, Safford, AZ.
Douglas Ranger District: Monday, April 23, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Douglas Visitor Center, 345 16th Street, Douglas, AZ.
Sierra Vista Ranger District: Tuesday, April 24, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Sierra Vista Library, 2600 E. Tacoma Street, Sierra Vista, AZ.
Nogales Ranger District: Wednesday, April 25, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. at La Posada Life Community Services, 780 S. Park Centre Avenue, Green Valley, AZ.
For more information please visit the CNF Restructuring Developed Recreation website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/coronado/feereview. Information will also be posted at developed recreation sites. Finally, comments can be emailed to CoronadoRecreation@fs.fed.us. Comments will be accepted through May 15, 2018.