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Aug. 15, 2022

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U.S. Forest Service proposes fee increase in Gifford Pinchot

Many former no-charge trailheads would charge $5

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The United States Forest Service has proposed to raise fees at several sites in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Many formerly free trailheads would charge a $5 parking fee.
The United States Forest Service has proposed to raise fees at several sites in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Many formerly free trailheads would charge a $5 parking fee. (Al Thomas/for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to increase recreation fees — or add new ones — at more than 40 trailheads, campgrounds and cabins in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, including at popular Siouxon and Falls Creek trailheads and Coldwater Lake boat ramp.

Many of the new fees are $5 for parking at previously no-charge trailheads.

Among the heftier increases would be from no-fee to $100 per day for the Marble Mountain Shelter group picnic site on the south side of Mount St. Helens and from $50 per night rental to $100 per night at Peterson Prairie Guard Station west of Trout Lake near Mount Adams.

“These fee increases will help us maintain the sites to the level and quality people have come to expect as well as make the fees more consistent throughout the state,’’ said Eric Veach, Gifford Pinchot National Forest Service supervisor, in a news release.

About 70 percent of the GPNF’s 234 developed recreation sites would still be available for use without a fee.

The fee proposal includes options for Johnston Ridge Observatory on the north side of Mount St. Helens.

The current fee is $8 per person, age 16 and older.

One option is a proposed change to $12 per person, age 16 and older. The other option is a Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Pass, which is proposed at $25 per motorcycle and $30 per private vehicle.

The monument pass would be for seven days at Johnston Ridge and at all day-use sites in the monument.

The full suite of federal interagency passes would continue to allow the pass holder plus three persons into Johnston Ridge. The Northwest Forest Pass would be accepted at all sites in the monument except Johnston Ridge.

Public comment is open through Sept. 16 and will be accepted via comment cards, mail and email. A public meeting is scheduled at 4 p.m. Aug. 9 at Stevenson Community Library, 120 N.W. Vancouver Ave.

Northwest Forest Passes and the full range of federal interagency passes will continue to be honored.

In 2004, Congress passed legislation to allow the Forest Service to retain money collected at certain recreation sites and use the funds locally to operate, maintain and improve the sites.

The money will be used to improve infrastructure at camp sites and day-use locations and hire additional recreation staff during the season of operation.

Comments are due by the end of the business day on Sept. 16. The comments may be mailed to Gifford Pinchot Forest Service, Attention: Recreation Fees, 987 McClellan Road, Vancouver, WA, 98661 or by email to SM.FS.GPNFRecFees@usda.gov.

Once public comment closes, the proposed fee changes will be reviewed by a citizen advisory committee, who will submit a recommendation to the regional forester in Portland for a final decision.

Here is a summary of most of the proposed fee changes:

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

  • New parking fees of $5 per vehicle at Hummocks, South Coldwater, Siouxon, June Lake and Marble Mountain trailheads.
  • A new $5 parking fee at Coldwater Lake boat ramp; new $5 parking fees at Loowit, Cascade Peaks, Donnybrook, and Cedar Creek Viewpoint interpretative sites.
  • A new $100 per day fee for the Marble Mountain Shelter group picnic site.
  • A new $10 per person per night Mount Margaret backcountry permit.
  • An increase in the Mount St. Helens climbing permit from the current $15 to $20.

Mount Adams District

  • New $5 per vehicle per day fees at Crest, Falls Creek Falls and Middle Falls trailheads.
  • A new $5 per vehicle per day fee at Hemlock Recreation Area picnic sites.
  • An increase from $15 per night per single site at Lower Falls campground to $20 and an increase from $30 per night per double site to $40. A new $5 extra vehicle fee would be added.
  • An increase from $5 per night per site at Lewis River Horse Camp to $15 per night plus a $5 extra-vehicle charge.
  • Changing the Cultus Creek and Trout Lake Creek campground fees from $10 per single site per night and $20 per double site per night to $15 per site per night.
  • Increasing the camping fee at Forlorn Lakes from $10 per single site per night to $20 and from $20 per double site per night to $30.
  • Increasing the per night per site fee at Mount Adams Horse Camp from $5 to $15.
  • Increasing the per night per site fee at Tillicum and Government Mineral Springs campgrounds from $5 to $10.
  • Adding a new $50 per night fee at Twin Falls group camp.
  • Adding new rental fees of $85 per night at Gotchen Creek Guard Station and $90 per night at Red Mountain Lookout.
  • Increasing the rental fee for Government Mineral Springs Guard Station from $65 per night to $100 per night and for Peterson Prairie Guard Station from $50 per night to $100 per night.
  • Increasing the Mount Adams climbing permit from $15 per person to $20 per person age 16 and older.

Cowlitz Falls District

  • Adding a $5 per vehicle per day fee at Snowgrass trailhead near Goat Rocks Wilderness.
  • Adding a $5 per vehicle day-use fee at Chambers Lake plus new fees of $15 per single site per night and $30 per double site per night at Chambers Lake campground. Also, adding a $5 extra-vehicle charge.
  • Adding fees of $15 per single site per night and $30 per double site per night at Cat Creek Chimney campground.
  • Adding fees of $85 per night at Nisqually Guard Station, $100 per night at Wakepish and Orr Creek group campgrounds and $150 per night at La Wis Wis Guard Station.
  • Adding a $90 per night fee to rent Burley Mountain Lookout.
  • Adding a new off-road vehicle permit system in the Cat Creek ORV area.
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