Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fewer dollars mean cuts loom at national forests

It should come as no surprise in this era of steeply rising costs for basic goods that even federally owned national forests are affected, which, in turn, mean raising prices for forest users and closing down facilities.

That's what's on tap in 2009 for the nearly 1 million acre Huron-Manistee National Forest in the Lower Peninsula.

The cost of doing business has risen steadily and so has the maintenance backlog that now totals $1.5 million for its 174 developed recreation sites.

"We're looking at $100,000 in additional revenue coming back to the sites," said Carol Boll, recreation program manager for the forest.

Boll floated a proposal earlier this year to raise fees at 68 of the 174 recreation sites along with entry fees. Fees will be increased on 11 other sites next year.

The new revenue will bring the $240,000-to-$300,000 spent now on maintenance closer to the $400,000 annual costs. Boll said the forest also is raising the fees to be more on par with other private and public recreational facilities that charge more.

The new money will be used to make improvements on signs, toilets, campgrounds, trailheads, launches, scenic overlooks and the like.
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