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Daniel Boone National Forest may introduce fees for trail use, increased camping prices

Red River Gorge
Irina & Eugene Moskalev/volgariver - stock.adobe.com
Red River Gorge

Officials at Daniel Boone National Forest are considering the implementation of fees to use their park trails, as well as increasing the cost to use their many available campsites. 

The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to the region, with nearly 500,000 people visiting the area in 2023.

Consequently, Forest Service officials have been looking for ways to better manage the area and protect natural resources. 

However, in order to implement effective changes, they need more funding– which is where the new proposal comes in. 

The proposal would affect a total of 22 sites in the Daniel Boone National Forest, 19 of which are in the Red River Gorge. The other three are located in the forest’s London District. 

The money gathered from these fees would be contributed to property maintenance, facility upgrades, and habitat protection. 

If the proposal is approved, the changes could be put in place as early as January 2025.

Public Affairs lead Mary O’Malley said the increased visitation rates have highlighted many issues that need to be addressed in order to maintain the delicate balance between preservation and visitor enjoyment.

“The recent uptick highlighted some of the issues between the funding levels that we have, and what we feel we need to do to ensure the visitors’ experience and also protect the natural resources,” she said. 

She also said that the public is welcome and encouraged to provide feedback on the proposal. She and other Forest Service officials want to ensure that those who frequent the area have the opportunity to shape the outcome of the proposal in ways that will benefit all parties.

“The biggest action that our public can take right now is to comment on the proposal and let us know how we should handle these changes,” she said. “What they look like is something that will come out of what the public wants to see.”

Interested parties are encouraged to voice their opinions and concerns on the official USDA Forest Service website, or stop by one of their local offices.

The Forest Service will be holding a public meeting at the Powell County Lions Club later this month for public commentary. 

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