The changes will help align national forest fees with other nearby recreation areas and help the recreation sites be more financially sustainable, according to a press release. The fee increase affects 19 campgrounds and day-use areas in 12 counties on national forest lands in the mountains of Virginia and West Virginia.
The fee increases for 2019 range from $2 to $4, though additional fee increases will go into effect in 2020 or 2021. The press release notes that most recreation opportunities remain free, and the USFS has not raised prices at some of the sites in 20 years.
“Revenue from fees remains on the forest to maintain and improve sites and are used with appropriated funding and grants for construction and maintenance of trails, campground operation, user education, and to provide patrol and security at recreation sites,” said Forest Supervisor Joby Timm in the release.
Bark Camp Campground (Scott County)
This year, the fee for a single site will increase from $12 to $16; double sites will increase to $32. Next year, the $5 hookup fee will increase to $18 for a single site and $36 for a double site.
In 2021, the fee for a single site will increase to $20, and the fee for a double site will be $40.
High Knob Day-Use Area (Wise County)
The previous fee of $3 per vehicle will increase to $5 this year for vehicles with a capacity of up to eight passengers. A fee of $1 per person will be charged for walk-ins and buses and large vans carrying more than eight passengers.
Making the decision
In the fall of 2017, the USFS asked the public to provide feedback to determine what level of an increase would be acceptable to visitors. The response indicated support for some fee increases as long as they result in improvements to facilities or services.
There were some concerns expressed that higher fees would reduce the number of visits for some families. To address these concerns, the USFS is phasing in many of the fee increases over three years.
“We are employing a conservation corps crew to make improvements to some recreation sites in the spring and summer of 2019,” the release states.
For further information on the specific camping and day-use area increases and for season opening dates for 2019, check www.fs.fed.us/gwj.