Day use fees proposed for Mt. Shasta area recreation sites including Bunny Flat, Castle Lake
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest is considering charging new fees at several popular Mt. Shasta area recreation sites.
The plan includes new fees of $5 per day at locations including Bunny Flat, Everitt Memorial Vista, Red Fir Flat, Castle Lake, McCloud Falls, Snowman’s Hill, Cattle Camp, and the trailheads at Parks Creek and Cabin Creek. An annual pass for these areas would be $40.
The plan also raises the cost for an annual Mt. Shasta climbing permit from the current $30 to $50.
Among those concerned about the proposed fees is the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, which developed the “Honor Our Mountain Environment,” or HOME program in 1997 through an agreement with the Forest Service to form a volunteer program including cleanup, restoration, and visitor education in lieu of fees proposed at that time, so that everyone would have access to the mountain.
In a press release, MSBEC said the organization would like to explore alternative solutions to meet the Forest Service’s needs for more funding. MSBEC’s program director Jessica Matthews said the group would be “very active in the process and aim to include as many people as possible.”
The Forest Service is inviting the public to provide comments on the plan through Sept. 6.
Currently 63% (139 out of 220) of the day use and overnight developed sites on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest are free, the Forest Service said in a press release. If the proposed new fees are implemented, 47% of the 223 developed sites on the forest will continue to be free, and the majority of the dispersed recreation sites on the forest will remain free.
“The Forest Service recognizes how important the Shasta-Trinity National Forest is to our local communities and the visitors who recreate on the forest,” according to the release. “These fee increases are being proposed under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to provide site improvements and to enhance visitor services on the forest."
Fee increases aren’t expected to take effect until 2022, the Forest Service said.
Recreation fees are an important source of funding for assisting with visitor services, including restroom cleaning, garbage collection, resource protection, signing, and critically needed improvements to our sites, explained Kari Otto, Deputy Forest Supervisor.
The proposed fees will complement facility improvements made possible by the Great American Outdoors Act and will help create a more sustainable recreation program for current and future generations.
What are the changes?
New fees would be imposed at 15 campgrounds around the forest:
• For camping at areas where there was previously no cost, the new fee would be $15 a night, except for campgrounds at Panther Meadows and Castle Lake. The cost of staying at those two campgrounds would be $20, according to the forest service's proposed fee schedule.
Fees also would increase at 12 campgrounds where visitors are already charged a daily rate. The average fee increase at those campgrounds would be about $8 a night.
On the low end, camping at Pigeon Point Campground west of Weaverville along the Trinity River would increase $3 a day. On the upper end, the cost of camping at McBride Springs Campground would increase from $10 a night to $25 a night.
• Adding a new fee at 20 developed day use sites. The new Shasta-Trinity Recreation Pass will allow visitors to enjoy as many of the 20 new developed day use sites as desired for the day $5 or annually $40 for per calendar year. The day use sites are in the Mt. Shasta and McCloud region, at four trailheads accessing the Trinity Alps Wilderness, and at two river boating access sites on the Trinity River.
• Increasing the Annual Mt. Shasta Summit Pass price from $30 to $50. No changes are proposed for the three-day Mt. Shasta Summit Pass at this time. Climbers recreating above 10,000 feet on Mt. Shasta would not need to purchase a Shasta-Trinity Recreation Pass for the use of the Bunny Flat Trailhead, they are only required to purchase a Summit Pass.
The proposed fees are based on the level of amenities and services provided, the cost of operations and maintenance, and a market assessment of similar types of opportunities and services within the geographic area, the Forest Service said.
“The proposed fees are comparable to other local federal, state, and private recreation campgrounds and day use sites,” according to the press release.
The Bioregional Ecology Center said they’re worried if $5 would make it difficult for people to access the areas in question.
“For some, $5 for day use is a large item in their discretionary budget,” the organization said in a press release. “MSBEC recognizes the intersectionality between the environmental movement and social justice issues (that span racial and economic issues) and these fees will likely further marginalize members of disadvantaged communities, especially people of color, from enjoying our beautiful landscapes.”
MSBEC also pointed out that there should be funding allocated from the federal level to keep the toilets cleaned, the campgrounds up to date, and the areas staffed.
“The local offices are not to be blamed for this unfortunate position of needing to impose fees to keep these areas open,” MSBEC said.
“MSBEC’s mission is to keep the bioregion pristine, and therefore it shares the Forest Service’s concern that many popular areas have been negatively affected by the human impacts and lack of funding in a dramatic way, especially over recent years,” the organization said.
How to make a comment
Comments can be submitted to http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/stnf/feeproposal); by email at SM.FS.STNFFeeProp@usda.gov or send them to Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Recreation Program, 3644 Avtech Parkway, Redding, CA, 96002.
Once the public involvement process is complete, the proposed fee changes will be presented to the Pacific Southwest region Recreation Advisory Committee for review, the Forest Service said. The RRAC is a citizen's advisory committee representing a broad array of recreation interest groups. The RRAC will provide their recommendations to the Regional Forester of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service for a final decision.
For more information on the proposed fee changes, go to www.fs.usda.gov/goto/stnf/feeproposal or call (530-628-0039 Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Record Searchlight reporter Damon Arthur contributed to this report.
Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.