Las Padres NF concessionaire to share in fee hikes
Fee increases went into effect this year affecting 33 developed campgrounds and one day-use site operated by a concessionaire in Los Padres National Forest.
Source of this article, the Condor Call, February-March 2023.
There are more than 50 undeveloped campgrounds in the Forest that are free to public use along with camping opportunities available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf/
Forest Service said the fees at campgrounds and day-use sites have been unchanged since 2016 when the Forest authorized this concessionaire permit.
Individual campsite fees will increase $10 per night and group campsites between $25 and $50 per night. Day-use sites on Los Padres will remain at $10 per day. An additional $2 per night increase for reservations on weekends and holiday periods was also authorized.
Forest officials said the fee increased are necessary to offset rising operational costs, inflation-related price spikes, fuel costs, and the jump in California’s minimum wage from $10 an hour in 2016 to $15 an hour. The state minimum wage is set to increase again on January 1, 2023, to $15.50 an hour.
The additional fees collected will provide for facility improvements and fund ongoing maintenance.
But that’s not the whole story, according to Los Padres ForestWatch:
“Parks Management Company – a privately-owned corporation that now operates most campgrounds and day use areas in Los Padres National Forest — requested the fee increases. ForestWatch is opposed to the privatization of public lands and requested a copy of the company’s proposal, but the Forest Service has refused to provide it because the company marked it as ‘Confidential Internal Proprietary Information’ to evade public disclosure,” wrote LPFW Director Bryant Baker on its website.
Last year, the agency refused a ForestWatch request to reign in the extreme prices that the concessionaire charges for firewood and other camping necessities such as propane, water, and first aid supplies, some of which are up to three times the normal retail price, Baker wrote.
“ForestWatch filed a lawsuit in Washington DC, seeking to compel the Forest Service to release the requested records. That lawsuit is awaiting a final ruling by the judge,” he concluded.
In December 2022, ForestWatch filed a suit seeking to compel the Forest Service to release public documents relating to its controversial plan to log trees and remove vegetation across extensive areas of Los Padres National Forest in Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Kern counties.