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Forest Service Scuttles Proposed Fee Hike

Public outcry has shot down a proposed camping fee increase for older Americans and people with disabilities who hold lifetime passes honored at many federal campgrounds. 

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell says the agency will maintain 50 percent discounts for people 62 and older and those with disabilities at 5,800 national forest campgrounds. National parks and other federal lands are unaffected by the Forest Service decision.

In early December the Forest Service proposed cutting camping discounts to 10 percent at campgrounds managed by private concessionaires, which oversee most national forest campsites that can be reserved in advance. With the percentage of older campers rising, concessionaires said they couldn’t afford to honor the 50 percent discounts offered since the 1960s.

But after reviewing more than 4,000 public comments, Tidwell dropped the fee proposal. “Particularly in these difficult economic times, it is very important to maintain affordable access to our national forests and grasslands,” he says.

Chris Carroll is a freelance journalist in Maryland.

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