Shawnee may increase fees
Recreational users of the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois are debating a plan to increase user fees.
The proposed fees include a daily $5-per-car charge at certain beach and picnic areas, and fees also would be increased by $5 or $6 at some campgrounds.
A $5-per-day fee also is proposed for equestrian use of designated trails. Frequent Shawnee visitors could buy yearly passes for $50.
Officials say the fees will help cover maintenance and improvements and higher costs.
Public comment on the proposed fees will be accepted until April 15.
The issue has been a hot one in southern Illinois, where some protesters say they do not trust the federal government to spend money raised to help the Shawnee. And businesses worry about the possible economic fallout of the fees.
One offering comment already is Les Winkeler of The Southern, who wrote:
My family has traveled to various national parks over the years. Yeah, it would be nice not to have to pay admission to get see the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Glacier. By the same token, the memories I’ve taken from those venues are priceless.
I also understand that paying that fee helps keep the national parks open and well-maintained. Although part of my tax dollar goes toward maintaining national parks, it doesn’t bother me to pay a user fee.
That’s why I’ve watched with interest the protests about the Shawnee National Forest imposing user fees.
If I had my druthers, the federal government would have enough cash on hand to maintain the forest trails and facilities. Over the years, lack of maintenance indicates that’s probably not the case.
Therefore, since I get enjoyment out of the sights and sounds of the forest, I’ll fork over a few bucks and not complain.
Click here to read the rest of Winkeler’s take on this issue.