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Gifford Pinchot National Forest Wants to Hear From Hikers Like You!

Posted by Christina Hickman at Jun 26, 2018 03:34 PM |

Gifford Pinchot National Forest is looking for input on recreation sites in the forest, like trailheads, campgrounds, visitor information sites and more. Fill out their survey by June 30.

Perhaps you've explored Ape Caves, summited Mount St. Helens or trekked to Cispus Basin. If so, you've encountered the beauty and tranquility of Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

Now, the forest is looking for input on recreation sites (trailheads, campgrounds, visitor information sites and more). Take their survey by June 30.

This is the view from Harry's Ridge trail toward Mount St. Helens in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Photo by Tex85.

More than one people million people visit the 1.3 million-acre national forest annually, and as with our other public lands, demand has increased and budgets have decreased as infrastructure has gotten older.

The result? The national forest says they've heard from visitors that their recreation experience did not meet their safe, clean, and accessible expectations.

The forest service is encouraging visitors to complete a questionaire by June 30 "to better understand different perspectives and opportunities to work together to address how sites could be managed differently and meet common goals."

What recreation experience would you like?

The survey is a few multiple choice questions and a couple open-ended ones. The forest suggests the following to think about when thinking about how to answer:

  • Do you prefer a primitive or developed recreation experience?
  • What services are important to you at developed recreation sites (signage, parking, drinking water, trash, restrooms, picnic tables, camp hosts, other)?
  • Would you be willing to pay more at current developed recreation fee sites for better maintained and improved services
  • Would you be willing to pay a fee for better maintained and improved services at some sites where a fee is not currently charged?
  • Would you be in favor of partners or commercial permittees operating developed recreation sites as a way to enhance the ability to maintain sites?
  • What specific ideas do you have for sharing stewardship at sites that are important to you?

The agency says their goal is to maintain a sustainable, high-quality recreation program within budget realities. Your feedback will help them understand what's important to you.

Early analysis & What's next

A forest-wide analysis of 210 more developed recreation sites, including campgrounds, picnic sites, visitor information sites, trailheads and cabin/lookout rentals is currently underway. This analysis, information gathered from the public via the survey and other public avenues, and subsequent recommendations will result in a plan to address how sites are managed in the future to improve sustainability, what changes might be needed, and what investment priorities will be in coming years.

The analysis has already revealed that more than $1.7 million would be needed annually to adequately operate and maintain these 210 sites at their current levels, resulting in a funding shortfall of more than $700,000 (in addition to more than $10 million in deferred maintenance on these sites).

The forest service will gather information and report back with potential ways sites could be managed in the future, and reach out again to get the public's thoughts.

WTA will keep you posted on additional updates, including future opportunities to review and comment on site-specific, ground-disturbing, or recreation fee change proposals.