It soon will cost more to camp at many sites in the Stanislaus National Forest in California, and fees will be charged for some informal campsites that used to be free.
The forest also will close some sites, like the informal Boards Crossing Campground, that are lightly used and relatively expensive to maintain, according to the Stockton (Calif.) Record.
As early as this summer and by 2009 at the latest, the Stanislaus National Forest located east of San Francisco will launch the new fee program, said Brian Kermeen, a recreation planner and landscape architect for the Stanislaus.
Fees for national forest campgrounds were frozen for seven years. National forests usually directly manage only their smaller campgrounds. In the Stanislaus, reservations usually are not taken for those smaller campgrounds and are on a first-come, first-served basis.
Most larger campgrounds, such as those at Lake Alpine and Pinecrest, are run by private concessionaires and are generally part of national reservation systems, and are not affected by the forest fee hike plan.
Kermeen said the plan for the Stanislaus was the result of two years of study that found that overnight camp sites are a top priority for visitors to the Stanislaus National Forest.
Kermeen said the Stanislaus plan closes sites that were in decline anyway because of light use and limited funding for maintenance. “If we were to tighten our belt further, then it would be more painful,” Kermeen said.