Forest Service Wants To Increase Camping Fees

By Christina Neuhaus

If you like to camp out in the Columbia River Gorge, you might want to do it once more this summer. Because next year, the fees in certain campgrounds may be significantly higher.

The National Forest Service is planning on raising the fees for three campgrounds and one group reservation area by twenty-five to fifty percent on March 1st. The agency says this is necessary to maintain the current level of service.

The Portland-based non-profit organization Bark disagrees. The group is dedicated to preserve the Mt. Hood forests and other natural areas. Alex Brown is the executive director.

Alex Brown: “Everyone loses if the Forest Service takes something like camping and turns it into a business. Enjoying the freedom of camping and hiking in the Gorge and elsewhere in Mount Hood National Forest is a perfect example of why the West is so unique. Turning this into an opportunity to make money turns the wilderness into a commodity.”

Brown says no taxpayer should have to pay for camping in a National Forest, since the Forest Service is financed through tax dollars.

He says the proposed increase in fees could also lead people to put up their tents outside of dedicated campsites, which could damage forestland.

The Forest Service is taking public comment on the fee hikes through September 20th.