Starting February 1st, campers at Rabbit Valley of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area will no longer be able to camp for free.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will implement an online reservation system for the five campgrounds in the area and will charge campers $20 a night per site plus an $8 transaction fee for each reservation. The reservation system will limit camping in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area to seven nights per month.
According to BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner Alex Martin, there has been a significant increase in demand for campsites in Rabbit Valley since 2008. Martin added that the online reservation system and additional developed sites would protect natural resources and ensure availability upon arrival.
According to a report, reservations can be made up to six months in advance or on-site using a mobile device. About half of the sites in each campground will be available on a six-month rolling window, with the rest only made available within four days of a camping visit to accommodate spontaneous trips.
The BLM will also close the Equestrian campground to the public from February to April yearly to accommodate livestock operations.
The agency has been working for years to better control camping in the area due to impacts from heavily dispersed camping, including the proliferation of rock fire rings, accumulation of trash and human waste, and trampled vegetation.
Revenues from the camping fees will be used to support the camping facilities, improvements, and maintenance of the adjacent trail system.
The BLM encourages campers to make their reservations early to ensure availability during peak camping season. The agency also reminds campers that all rules and regulations must be followed, including the monthly seven-night limit.
The BLM’s decision to implement fees and reservations at Rabbit Valley is just one example of a growing trend in public land management. As more and more people flock to the outdoors, agencies are looking for ways to manage the impact of heavy use while still allowing people to enjoy the natural beauty of these lands.