Camping in the Hoosier National Forest may cost a bit more for people using one of the seven primitive sites in Indiana National Forest alone, but the proposed change would help fund some improvements.
Recreation fees would increase to $ 10 at each of the plan’s campsites, including five that are now free – the Hickory Ridge, Buzzard Roast, Blackwell, Shirley Creek and Young’s Creek Recreation Areas. The fee would increase from $ 5 to the Saddle Lake Recreation Area and $ 8 to the German Ridge Recreation Area.
“This recent proposal has been in the works for some time,” said Stacy Duke, manager of the forest recreation program. “Ultimately, the fee proposal supports the current use of the campgrounds and helps maintain the campgrounds in the future.”
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Duke said use of campgrounds, trails and other parts of the Hoosier National Forest has increased over the past year. The fees would allow the forest service to continue to operate, maintain and improve campground facilities.
Some of the changes would include adding fire pits and picnic tables at each campground and improving drawbar rails at several of the campgrounds. Horses are permitted in five of the seven campgrounds. Campsites would also be better defined to refer to exactly where each campsite is located, whether for tent or RV camping.
Additionally, campgrounds that have a trailhead for one of the National Forest Trails would have an area designated for daytime use by hikers. There would be no charge for hikers and no additional charge for anyone riding or mountain biking. Trail permit fees are already required for mountain bikers and riders.
“I think it’s worth noting that these campgrounds will retain a primitive setting,” said Duke. “The intention is to maintain the primitive and less developed atmosphere of the campgrounds.”
The Hoosier National Forest has additional campgrounds that provide electricity, water, and showers at the Hardin Ridge, Indiana-Celina Lakes, and Tipsaw Lake Recreation Areas. Charges on these sites will not be affected by the proposal. The seven campgrounds included in the plan offer pit toilets, but do not have shower stalls, electrical hook-ups, or potable water.
The National Forest also still allows scattered camping in most areas of the forest, as long as visitors adhere to regulations regarding distance to roads, trails, and water. There are also designated backcountry campsites that will remain free.
“We are seeing new users on the forest with less experience,” said Duke. “By providing more consistent camping opportunities, it could provide a better experience for new visitors.”
Duke said people commenting on the proposed fees are encouraged to specify what they want on more primitive sites.
While the fees were proposed by the Forest Service, they can only go into effect after a public comment period ends on October 31. Once this comment period is over, a Citizen Advisory Committee that includes members from different user groups, such as horse riders, mountain bikers and hikers, must approve the proposal. If this happens, the regional forester will make the final decision to approve or reverse the fee increases.
Comments must be received by the close of business on October 31 and can be sent to the Hoosier National Forest Service, attention: Stacy Duke, 811 Constitution Ave., Bedford, IN 47421; emailed to [email protected]; submitted online at https://bit.ly/3yxGfE7; or shared by calling 812-275-5987. For more information on the proposed project, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/hoosier.
It is hoped that a decision will be made soon after the first of the year. Work will not begin until after this date, with work taking place in a few campgrounds at a time. Once the work is complete, the charges would be applied at those campgrounds, Duke said.
Duke expects it will take up to three years after approval for all work on the campground to be completed.
Contact Carol Kugler at [email protected], 812-331-4359 or @ckugler on Twitter.