HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Recreation Use fees across the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests are increasing next year to help continue operation and maintenance of existing facilities.

In May, the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests conducted public outreach, receiving comments on the fee proposals. The comments received were taken into consideration when presenting the proposals to the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee as part of their review in August.

In October, an increase in use fees were approved by the Regional Forester based on recommendations by the committee.

Use fees have remained the same since 2004 throughout the forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“The proposed fees were evaluated, in comparison to other Federal, State, municipal, and private entities in the area providing similar amenities for the recreating public,” said Mary Cole, Ozark-St. Francis National Forests Planning and Public Services Staff Officer. “As required by law, the fees are to remain comparable, based on amenities, services provided, cost of operations, maintenance and market assessments.”

For information on the recreation areas affected and when fees will take effect, visit the recreation pages of Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests websites:

The Ouachita National Forest:

The Ozark-St. Francis National Forests:

The fee changes are being implemented under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, where up to 95 percent of the fees collected on sites are returned to the Forest for operating and enhancement costs.

“The recreation fees we collect are essential to the Forest Recreation Program to ensure outdoor recreation opportunities for the visiting public remain available, safe and well-maintained,” said Chris Ham, Ouachita National Forest Planning and Recreation Team Leader. “Use fees collected have enabled the Forest to continue providing these facilities for the visiting public to enjoy and experience the Forest’s developed recreation opportunities.”