The United States Forest Service has announced proposed amendments to the 2006 Hoosier National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan) with the aim of improving camping regulations across the Hoosier National Forest.
The announcement, made on September 22, highlights the need for changes to address the challenges posed by high levels of recreation pressures negatively impacting forest resources.
Addressing Resource Damage and Overcrowding
The Forest Service has identified that the existing language of the standards has hindered the ability of Forest staff to protect resources, which are experiencing damage due to increased recreation use.
The amendments seek to address resource damage to vegetation, soils, and trees, as well as issues related to user-created campsites and overcrowding, which compromise both natural and cultural resources and the overall visitor experience.
Proposed Changes for Clarity and Protection
The proposed amendments include the removal of standards that prohibit camping at or within 300 feet of a designated trailhead and within 100 feet of ponds, lakes, trails, or streams, except at designated sites. The removal of these standards will facilitate the issuance of new Forest Orders, aiming for clearer and more enforceable regulations.
The Forest Plan’s existing standard, stating, “Camping is permitted anywhere unless restricted by Forest Order or other regulation,” will remain unchanged.
The amendments propose new regulations, including prohibiting camping within 200 feet of trails, trailheads, roads, water sources, rock shelters, caves, and historic structures, unless in a designated campsite.
Additionally, camping will be restricted within a half mile of the water’s edge along the shoreline of Monroe Lake within the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, unless in a designated campsite.
Public Comment Period and Participation
The Forest Service is actively seeking public comments on the proposed amendments. The public comment period is now open, and stakeholders can submit their comments and views.
For further details on the amendments and how to participate in the commenting process, stakeholders can reach out to Stacy Duke, recreation program manager, at 812-275-5987 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.