Two open houses this month will discuss the recently released recreation fee proposal at the Shawnee National Forest.
The forest's Laura Lecher says the fee proposal was announced last August because recreation funding has declined over the past ten years.
"We have a build-up of what we call deferred maintenance. That's exactly what it sounds like. It's a maintenance need, something needs to happen, just for general taking care of a facility, but we can't afford to do it this year, so we put it off. The more you put stuff off, the more expensive it gets and the more it builds up. We're starting to face more issues like that."
She says public comments are an important part of the process.
"We'll consider them. See if there are suggestions that we think are valid or ideas that we need to utilize to change the proposal, possibly so much as to eliminate the proposal."
Lecher says it's possible the complicated process could be done by next spring. She says if the fee proposal stays in place, it could be implemented by July 1, 2020.
It involves new day-use-fees of $5 per vehicle at six recreation sites. A $30 annual pass option is also proposed.
It would also increase the overnight camping fee to pay for electricity at Pine Ridge Campground to $15 per campsite.
The first open house will be at the Carbondale Civic Center on Monday from 6-8 p.m. The second is set for the Shawnee Community College, Anna Extension Center, on October 30 4:30- 6:30 p.m.
Public comments will be taken until December 6.