Las Padres NF concessionaire to share in fee hikes

Published by Steve on

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

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.


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