HARRISBURG, Ill. (KFVS) - Recreation managers at the Shawnee National Forest are accepting public comments and concerns in regards to proposed changes to the recreation fees on the forest.
An open house will be held on September 30 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Forest Service-Shawnee National Forest office, 50 Highway 145 South in Harrisburg.
Forest service personnel will be available to talk about the recreation fee proposal and recreation facilities on the forest, answer questions the public may have and take comments on the proposal.
More public meetings will be held in October and November at different locations in southern Illinois.
The proposed changes include an increase in camping fees at Pine Ridge Campground, additional new fees at some day use areas across the forest and a Forest Annual Pass.
The Forest Service said the fee changes are to provide quality recreation facilities to meet the growing demand from visitors.
Forest officials propose a $15 per night fee for campsites with electrical hookup at the Pine Ridge Campground in Pounds Hollow Recreation Area, in Gallatin County, Illinois. The proposed fee is $5 more than the previous amount. Fees for non-electric campsites will remain at $10 per night.
According to the Forest Service, the fees have not been adjusted at Pine Ridge Campground since 2014. The fee will reportedly be used to maintain and eventually extend the infrastructure associated with the electric hookups at the campground.
The Forest Service has also proposed a $5 per vehicle day-use fee for the following sites:
- Garden of the Gods Recreation Area Observation Trail in Hardin County
- Pounds Hollow Recreation Area swimming beach Gallatin County
- Johnson Creek Recreation Area Boat Launch in Jackson County
- Pomona Boat Launch on Cedar Lake in Jackson County
- Little Grand Canyon Trailhead in Jackson County
- Bell Smith Springs Interpretive Site in Pope County
The Forest Service states the day-use fee will be used to maintain and improve the listed sites.
The final proposal is the Shawnee National Forest Annual Pass.
The $30 annual pass would grant the holder year-round use of the recreation facilities at the sites with a day-use fee. The final cost of the pass will be determined through a public comment process.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed fee changes from now until the close of business on Friday, Dec. 6.
The Shawnee National Forest also plans to host several open house meetings across southern Illinois in the upcoming months on the recreation fee proposals.