Coronado National Forest seeks comments on fee proposal - Tucson News Now

Coronado National Forest seeks comments on fee proposal

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Coronado National Forest seeks public input on a recreation fee proposal.  Over 99 percent of CNF lands (approximately 1.7 million acres) offer free recreational use for visitors, and this will not change regardless of future recreation management decisions.  

Public engagement activities will occur in the coming months to receive input from partners, tribes and the public regarding the fee proposal.  Public meetings are currently scheduled as follows:

  • SOUTH TUCSON: Jan. 22, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 17, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Mission Public Library, 3370 S. Mission Road
  • ORO VALLEY: Saturday, Jan. 27, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Monday, Feb. 5, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Oro Valley Public Library, 1305 W. Naranja Drive
  • CENTRAL TUCSON: Saturday, Feb. 3, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 14, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Himmel Park Library, 1035 N. Treat Avenue
  • NORTH TUCSON: Saturday, Feb. 10, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Wednesday, Feb. 28, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Sabino Canyon Visitor Center, 5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road
  • VAIL: Monday, Feb. 12, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Rincon Valley Fire Station #1, 8850 S. Camino Loma Alta
  • EAST TUCSON: Saturday, Feb. 24, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Murphy Wilmot Library, 530 N. Wilmot Road
  • MARANA: Monday, Feb. 26, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Library, 7800 N. Schisler Drive
  • ORACLE: Saturday, March 13, noon to 2 p.m. Oracle Community Center, 685 E. American Avenue

The fee proposal applies only to Forest Service-operated developed recreation sites such as picnic areas, campgrounds, and group sites. Day-use sites are proposed to change from $5 to $8 per day.  The Coronado Annual Pass is proposed to change from $20 to $40.  Campground fees are proposed to change from $10 to $20. Group sites (both picnic and camping) are proposed at a $50 flat fee, plus $10 per vehicle per day. 

The fee proposal also includes adding fees at 23 day-use sites, five campgrounds, and seven group sites, as follows:

Day Use Sites:  Bigelow Trailhead, Brown Canyon Ranch, Butterfly Trailhead, Carr Canyon Picnic Area and Trailhead, Cunningham Trailhead, Gordon Hirabayashi Interpretive Site and trailhead, Herb Martyr Trailhead, Kentucky Camp, Noon Creek Picnic Area, Parker Canyon Lake Fishing and Boating Site (and nature trail), Pena Blanca Lake Fishing and Boating Site, Red Rock Picnic Area, Reef Townsite Mining Interpretive Trail, Reef Trailhead, Riggs Lake Fishing and Boating Site, Round-the-Mountain Trailhead, Rucker Forest Camp Trailhead, Sawmill Trailhead, Shannon Trailhead, Soldier Creek Trailhead,  Upper and Lower Thumb Rock Picnic Area, Whipple Picnic Area and Trailhead, Windy Point Vista Day-Use Area.

Campgrounds:  Clark Peak Corrals, Herb Martyr, Round-the-Mountain, Stockton Pass, Sycamore. 

Group Sites:  Columbine Visitor Center Ramada, Gordon Hirabayashi Horse Camp, Stockton Pass, Treasure Park, Twilight, Upper Arcadia, Upper Hospital Flat.

The 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 operations and maintenance of 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 percent of that funding comes from tax dollars allocated by Congress.  The remaining 50 percent comes from the collection of fees.

The CNF works with numerous partners and volunteers which help reduce the cost of maintaining sites. However, the estimated cost to operate and maintain all developed sites still requires $3.8 million in revenue or in-kind services.

In addition, to reduce costs the CNF has streamlined its workforce, closed sites, removed facilities, and installed lower-maintenance facilities.  These actions are contributing to sustainability, but are not sufficient.  

In the coming months, Forest personnel will continue to 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.

Additional meetings will be scheduled for each of the five ranger districts (Douglas, Nogales, Safford, Santa Catalina, and Sierra Vista) during which interested parties can discuss the fee proposal with Forest personnel and fill out comment cards.  

Meeting dates will be announced through future news releases and posted on the CNF Restructuring Developed Recreation website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/coronado/feereview.  

Comments can be emailed to CoronadoRecreation@fs.fed.us. Comments will be accepted through March, 2018.  

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