The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to change fees at two recreation areas on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests and the public is invited to provide input to proposed fee changes for 60 days beginning on June 23rd, 2023 and ending on August 22nd, 2023. The goal of these changes is to improve visitor experiences through site and trail upgrades paid for by the collected fees.
These fee changes are only proposed. After public comment is received, the Forest will assess the comments and concerns and then present the fee proposals to the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) at a future date.
“Access to our unique and challenging trails is something many of us strongly value. The high level of use these trails receive make increased maintenance and enhancements imperative for responsible trail management. While none of us would prefer to have a fee associated with mountain bike and equestrian use of these trails, these funds would greatly expand our capacity and ability to improve and maintain these important trails,” said Dave Casey, District Ranger of the Pisgah Ranger District.
The proposed fee changes the Forest Service seeks comment on includes:
Jackrabbit Mountain Bike Trail System – new $5/rider per day fee or new $30 annual pass*
Pisgah Complex Mountain Bike and Horse Trail System – new $5/rider per day fee or new $30 annual pass*
*These fees would only apply to mountain bike and equestrian use. The Pisgah Complex consists of the Bent Creek, North Mills River, South Mills River, and 276 Corridor areas on the Pisgah Ranger District.
Additionally, the following fee proposals went through the required public participation process in 2019 and are awaiting review by the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee:
Brown Mountain OHV Trail System – increase from $5 to $15/trail vehicle per day, and increase from $30 to $60 for the optional annual pass**
Roan Mountain Day Use Area – increase from $3 to $5/vehicle per day and optional $30 annual pass***
Swan cabin – increase from $25 per night to $50 per night
Tsali Mountain Bike and Horse Trail System – increase from $2 to $5/rider per day, and increase from $15 to $30 for optional annual pass
Wayehutta OHV Trail System – increase from $5 to $15/trail vehicle per day, and increase from $30 to $60 for the optional annual pass**
**As proposed, these fees would be phased-in over a two-year period
***The full suite of Interagency Passes would be honored
In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) which allows the Forest Service to retain funds collected at certain recreation sites and used these funds locally to operate, maintain, and improve these sites. The resource derived through collection of fees helps provide quality recreation opportunities that meet the modern expectations of visitors and creates a more financially sustainable developed recreation program for the benefit of future generations.
Under REA, all new fees and any fee changes must be proposed to and approved by a citizen’s advisory committee. Committee members represent a broad array of recreation interest groups to help ensure that the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable new fees and fee changes.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed fee changes by August 22nd, 2023. For more information visit our webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/nfsnc/recfeeproposals. To provide comments about this fee proposal for the RRAC to consider, please comment online at online at our Recreation Fee Proposal Mapping Tool or contact Logan Free at 828-257-4256, by email at SM.FS.NFsNCfees@usda.gov, or by mail at:
ATTN: Recreation Fee Proposals
160A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801