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Wyoming and Colorado parks propose fee changes for recreation sites

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest campground
Jesse Varner
Flickr via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests are asking the public to provide input on a change in recreational site fees. The change in fees would affect all campgrounds and cabin locations. While some day-use sites are included in the proposal, 151 day-use sites would remain unaffected.

Aaron Voos, a public affairs representative for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, said major fee changes are rare in national forests.

“We [have] not broadly changed the fee structure, or increased or proposed any new fees since 2002. So it's been over 20 years,” he said.

Voos said there are a few reasons for the proposal. One of the primary concerns is upkeep and maintenance. Ninety-five percent of the revenue from recreational fees goes into the operation of facilities needed to allow for public use. Those costs grow over time with the popularity and usage of recreational sites. Another reason is the requirement as a federal agency to remain competitive within the market.

“We're a government agency, we are asked to be consistent and be able to compete with other providers of the same services,” said Voos. “We're supplemented with a budget that helps keep us afloat sometimes when others may not have that same opportunity. So we do need to make sure that we're competitive with the local markets as well.”

The sites in question are split between Colorado and Wyoming. With 33 in Colorado on the Routt National Forest grounds and 60 in Wyoming on the Medicine Bow National Forest grounds. The increase in fees at campgrounds means visitors may have to reexamine how often they go or what they partake in on recreational grounds and weigh that against the general welfare of those parks.

“Everyone has their favorite spots that they like to go, you know, a trailhead, or a campground or a rental cabin. And so those are the visitors that have knowledge of those locations, and we like to know the value that they expect, and the fee that they're willing to pay to have that kind of experience or service at those locations,” said Voos.

The public has until November 1 to provide comments. The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest Service requests feedback through an interactive map on its website.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.

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