Coronado National Forest seeks comments on proposed fee increase

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: The Coronado National Forest will hold meetings seeking public comment on its proposed fee increases for its recreation sites.

Safford Ranger District meeting is Wednesday, April 18 

Contributed Article

TUCSON – The Coronado National Forest (CNF) operates and maintains approximately 204 fee and non-fee developed recreation sites.  Recreation fee sites provide amenities such as picnic tables, restroom facilities, trash receptacles, designated parking, visitor security and interpretive signs, exhibits or kiosks.

Most lands on the Forest are not considered developed areas and are available for use free-of-charge.  However, fees are charged at some developed recreation sites to be used for operations, maintenance, and replacement costs.  Eighty to 95 percent of the fees collected remain on the Forest to be used for fee sites.

The estimated costs of maintaining all developed sites are $3.8 million per year, which does not include additional services provided for visitors such as maintaining trails and managing remote camping areas.  

The revenue to operate and maintain the developed recreation sites totals approximately $1.3 million annually, which falls about $2.5 million short of needed funds.  Approximately 50% of that funding comes from tax dollars allocated by Congress. The remaining 50% comes from the collection of fees.

The CNF works with numerous partners and volunteers which help reduce the cost of maintaining sites.

In addition, to reduce costs the CNF has closed sites, removed facilities, and installed lower-maintenance facilities.  These actions contribute to sustainability but are not sufficient to close the gap between costs and revenues.

CNF invites input on the fee proposal.

In the coming months, Forest personnel will engage with the public, tribes, stakeholders, and partners to receive input regarding the proposed fee changes.  Field-going personnel will be available for conversations with Forest visitors.

Each of the five ranger districts (Douglas, Nogales, Safford, Santa Catalina, and Sierra Vista) will host open house-style meetings during which interested parties may discuss the fee proposal with Forest personnel and fill out comment cards.  Meeting dates are as follows:

Safford Ranger District: Wednesday, April 18, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Safford Library, 808 S. 7th Avenue, Safford, AZ.

Douglas Ranger District: Monday, April 23, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Douglas Visitor Center, 345 16th Street, Douglas, AZ.

Sierra Vista Ranger District: Tuesday, April 24, 4 to 7 p.m. at the Sierra Vista Library, 2600 E. Tacoma Street, Sierra Vista, AZ.

Nogales Ranger District: Wednesday, April 25, 4 to 7 p.m. at La Posada Life Community Services, 780 S. Park Centre Avenue, Green Valley, AZ.

For more information please visit the CNF Restructuring Developed Recreation website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/coronado/feereview.  Information will also be posted at developed recreation sites.  Finally, comments can be emailed to CoronadoRecreation@fs.fed.us.  Comments will be accepted through May 15.

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