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Forest Fee Hikes To Be Considered

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Sonora, CA — Stanislaus National Forest could see its first fee increase since 2007.

Under consideration are fee hikes on 31 Forest Service-managed sites and two special recreation permits, including Christmas tree sales and Tuolumne River Rafting permits. Forest officials say the additional funds are needed to conduct deferred maintenance. For the first time, some day-use sites will enact five-dollar fees and a $30 forest-wide annual pass for those who do not want to pay daily fees. Find a chart in this earlier story from 2021 regarding public comment on the increases and sites that will be affected.

Taking a look at the issue this Thursday (2/29) will be the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Resource Advisory Council (RAC) at its meeting in Santa Cruz.

“An interesting feature of the BLM RAC’s charter is that they are able to consider fee increases from other land management agencies,” explained Casey Jardine, Stanislaus National Forest Recreation Program Manager.

Going from federal appropriation for funding to fees happened in 2005 when the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) was passed, directing land management agencies to operate via use fees. Under REA, forests can keep and utilize 95% of the revenue generated, with the remaining 5% going to the Regional Office. Jardine is optimistic that the proposed fee increases will pass, generating an additional nearly $300,000.

“With that revenue, we’ll be able to perform some additional deferred maintenance, hire additional staff, manage continuing operations, and hopefully increase our offerings,” she said.

Thursday’s BLM meeting of the Central California Resource Advisory Council will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn, 2956 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA. There is a Zoom option, but participants must register in advance to attend, click here. Once registered, an email will provide the meeting link and dial-in numbers.