The U.S. Forest Service has announced a proposed implementation of new recreation fees at two popular sites in the Croatan National Forest, including Flanners Beach and Cedar Point in Craven County, North Carolina.
The proposal, which would see a $5 vehicle-per-day fee or a $30 annual vehicle pass implemented for day use areas, has significant implications for private campgrounds in the vicinity.
The proposed fees will be waived for visitors who have already paid for a campsite at either of the campgrounds during their stay.
The new measures also honor the full suite of Interagency Passes. The public is invited to offer their input on the proposed new fees within a 60-day window that commenced on June 23 and will conclude on August 22, 2023.
The Forest Service aims to establish a consistent fee approach for all National Forests in North Carolina through this proposal, in addition to leveraging the collected fees to improve visitor experiences by facilitating site upgrades.
“The Croatan National Forest provides an amazing diversity of outdoor recreational opportunities, including access to water, campgrounds, trails, and day-use areas,” stated Ron Hudson, District Ranger of the Croatan Ranger District.
“The Forest Service’s proposal is part of an agency-wide strategy to ensure these recreational opportunities remain available for years to come,” Hudson added.
The introduction of these fees is significant for private campgrounds in the area. By introducing parking fees at public campgrounds, there might be a shift in visitor behavior.
Some may opt for private campgrounds to avoid additional costs, potentially boosting business for these private entities. On the other hand, it could deter some campers entirely, thus impacting the overall influx of visitors the area receives.
These proposed changes aren’t final. Following the public comment period, the Forest Service will review the feedback received before presenting the fee proposals to the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC).
The Forest Service is inviting the public to comment on the proposed fee changes by August 22nd, 2023.
More information can be found on their website, and comments about the fee proposal can be submitted via the Recreation Fee Proposal Mapping Tool, email, or mail.
In related news, public beach access at Flanners Beach remains closed due to pending repair works. For those seeking to camp, a fee of $20 per night is currently in place, with an additional $5 for usage of an electrical hookup.
The campsite features amenities such as showers, restrooms, drinking water, a trailer dump station, and more.
Flanners Beach provides 40 campsites, each equipped with a picnic table, fire ring, and lantern poles. Two of these sites only allow double occupancy. The campground offers an accessible one-mile trail for visitors to explore the mixed pine-hardwood forest.
There are an additional five miles of trails available to bikers and hikers, however motorized vehicles and horses are prohibited.