The U.S. Forest Service has agreed to postpone some of its fee increases on camping grounds for two years after officials from Brookings, Ore., sent the agency a letter saying the proposal was too much, too soon after the Chetco Bar Fire.

Areas that will have proposed rate hikes delayed include Little Redwood Campground, Snow Camp Lookout, Ludlum House, Winchuck Campground and Packers Cabin, according to the Curry Coastal Pilot.

Under the original proposal, Little Redwood Campground would have seen a new $10 fee, the Ludlum House, up the Winchuck River, was proposed to go from $60 to $125 a night; Packers Cabin, from $40 to $65; and Snow Camp lookout, from $40 to $65. Winchuck Campground, which has never had a fee, is proposed to be converted to a group campsite with a $50 nightly fee.

Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman said in January he thought the proposed fee increases flew in the face of local efforts to increase tourism to the coast.

“I know these fee increases have been in the works for a while but it does seem like a bit of adding insult to injury for the forest service to raise fees on the heels of the Chetco Bar Fire,” he said. “Raising fees just as we are trying to attract people back to the forest for recreation seems counterproductive.”

The fees on the five exempt campgrounds will be delayed until May 15, 2020.

In a letter the city sent to the forest service, Mayor Jake Pieper said the forest service posted its proposal in July and August of last year — at the height of the Chetco Bar Fire. The fire is blamed for a dramatic decline in visitors to the area, the council noted, and the burned areas are likely to be less appealing to hikers, campers and hunters until foliage and trees begin to grow back.

“As you know, this fire devastated some 191,000 acres of forestland and continues to disrupt recreational use of the national forest and wilderness,” the letter to the forest service said. “While the city recognizes the importance of periodically increasing user fees for maintenance of recreational facilities and services, the proposed fee increase is untimely as these fees would go into effect just as we are trying to attract recreational visitors back to Brookings and adjacent forest lands.”

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