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Forest Service may change camping discounts

The U.S. Forest Service has proposed to eliminate the 50 percent discount at National Forest campgrounds that has been available to holders of lifetime Senior and Access (permanent disability) passes.

The change would apply at campgrounds managed by private concessioners. Private Concessioners represent approximately 50 percent of National Forest camping capacity and 82 percent of reservable campsites.

Current policy requires concessioners to honor Senior and Access passes for campground fees under the same terms as if the Forest Service operated the facility directly, meaning that a 50 percent discount must be offered. Most highly developed campgrounds are now managed by concessioners.

The half-price rule has been in place since the mid-'60s. In the Dec. 1 Federal Register, the Forest Service presented a new policy that would replace the half-price rule with a 10 percent discount. The proposed policy would also require Senior and Access pass holders to pay a fee at National Forest day-use sites that are currently covered in full by their passes.

Day-use sites managed by concessioners would also be affected by the changes. Holders of the annual America the Beautiful Pass would be entitled to free entry, but Senior and Access lifetime pass holders would get only a 10 percent discount. This changes current policy, which calls for all three passes to be honored equally at day-use fee sites.

Seniors 62 and older pay a one-time $10 fee for their lifetime pass. Lifetime passes for the permanently disabled are free. Together, Senior and Access passes represent more than 78 percent of all pass sales, according to the Forest Service.

The public may submit comments on the proposed changes, to be placed in the record. Comments must be received by Feb. 1, 2010.

Read the full proposal and send your comments electronically at this www.regulations.gov Web page: www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#submitComment?R=0900006480a60f36.

OR, send comments via postal mail to:

Attn: Carolyn Holbrook
U.S. Forest Service
Recreation and Heritage Resources Staff
1400 Independence Avenue SW, Stop 1125
Washington, DC 20250-1125

Postal mail should reference: Proposed Directives for Forest Service Concession Campground Special Use Permits (Document ID FS-2009-0001-0001)

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