The US Forest Service is soliciting public input regarding a proposed fee increase at the White Rocks Campground and the implementation of a fee at the Blacksburg Shooting Range.
The proposed fees would increase from $4 to $15 for a single site at the Newport campground, and gun range fees would go from free to $10 per person or $75 for an annual permit.
According to a news release, the fees would help the Eastern Divide Ranger District improve its facilities at the two sites and provide on-site staffing and lead remediation at the shooting range.
“The new fees would help make these sites financially sustainable and bring them into better alignment with other nearby private and public recreation facilities,” District Ranger Dan McKeague said. “For the Shooting Range, my priorities for the retained fees would be public safety through improved maintenance and law enforcement presence. At White Rocks Campground, an increased fee would allow for a higher standard of maintenance and completion of improvement projects.”
McKeague said that the range is a year-round facility and usage varies greatly, but the average is between 70 and 80 cars per day. With an average of 1.5 visitors per car, he estimates that approximately 34,000 people use the facility every year.
The total operation costs for the sites were $286,505 last year, but revenue from the fees is estimated to generate $348,175.
“We recognize how important these sites are to our local communities and those who use the sites. These fee increases will help us maintain the sites to the level and quality people have come to expect,” said Forest Supervisor Joby Timm.
This proposal will be presented before a citizen’s advisory committee, called the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee, which helps ensure the Forest Service addresses public issues and concerns about recreation fees.
If the regional advisory committee recommends the fee increases, the Southern Regional Forester will make the final decision.
Comments must be received by Sept. 18. For more information, visit the Forest Service website at www.fs.fed.us/r8/gwj. Use the “contact us” feature to submit a comment.
Or, share comments by mail: George Washington & Jefferson National Forests, Eastern Divide Ranger District, Attn: Recreation Fee Program, 110 Southpark Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060; by email [email protected] or by phone at (540)-552-4641.