To save money in its recreation budget, meet national standards and offset maintenance costs, Custer National Forest in southeast Montana is proposing to raise some campground fees, add fees at other sites and close down some facilities, according to the Billings (Mont.) Gazette.
The proposals are part of the forest’s Recreation Facilities Analysis, which all forests are undertaking to save money and concentrate their efforts on more popular sites.
Nationally, the program has drawn criticism for removing recreation sites despite increasing demand for campgrounds and facilities, as well as for charging fees to enter some public lands.
The Custer forest justifies the changes by saying it needs to meet “national maintenance standards related to health and safety within our projected funding levels.”
The changes would be implemented over five years.
The forest is seeking comments that would identify the public’s preferences related to fee and site closure trade-offs. Officials also are interested in forming partnerships for maintaining sites.