Recreation fee plan revised for Lolo National Forest

by Clark Fork Valley Press
March 26, 2020 9:25 AM

The Lolo National Forest is amending the Recreation Fee proposal by postponing the proposed day use fees at the Seeley Creek Winter Sports site, Pattee Canyon Nordic Ski Trail system, and Big Larch and Seeley Lake day use areas and boat ramps.

Forest officials will continue to move forward with the proposal to raise or implement fees on some existing campgrounds and new or existing rental cabins/lookouts.

If recommended by local Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committees, these fees will better align with the current pricing of similar amenities in Montana and nearby Idaho facilities.

Additionally, fees will be reinvested locally to sites on the Lolo National Forest to help maintain high-quality experiences for the public into the future.

The amended proposal demonstrates the Forest’s commitment to responding to over 300 comments received, while also recognizing the need for continued investment in developed recreation opportunities across the Lolo National Forest.

“Partner groups have shown immense passion and dedication toward these recreation sites, specifically the Nordic skiing areas,” said Carolyn Upton, Forest Supervisor. “We recognize their past and current contributions, and willingness to steward these places with us. We also see this as an opportunity to engage with partners in further dialogue about the future of these sites.”

The most recent National Visitor Use Monitoring data gathered by the Lolo National Forest suggest that approximately 80-85% of the public surveyed are satisfied with their experience at campgrounds and rentals on the Lolo National Forest.

While satisfaction remains relatively high for now, fees at these sites have not been increased for almost 20 years. Fees collected at these sites allow for continued investment in site improvements needed to maintain quality recreation experiences.

“Based on the feedback we received, it’s clear to me that recreation at these places is incredibly important to both locals and visitors of the Lolo National Forest,” added Upton. “To continue to provide quality experiences, investment in these sites is essential. Increasing fees at rentals and campgrounds will expand our ability to address ongoing maintenance needs and provide opportunities to enhance amenities.”

The proposal includes adding two lookouts and one cottage to the rental program, adding to the already popular recreation rental opportunities on the Lolo National Forest. Additionally, the proposal will continue to move forward with the extra vehicle fee at single-site campgrounds.

Recreation management remains a priority for the Lolo National Forest. The Forest recognizes the need for long-term and collaborative recreation planning specifically around Seeley Lake and Missoula, to continue to provide high-quality recreation opportunities to the local and visiting public.

The amended proposal will be presented to relevant Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committees for recommendation prior to implementation.

For more information visit the Lolo National Forest website or call 406-329-1024.