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U. S. Forest Service Proposes Recreation Fee Changes In KY’s Daniel Boone National Forest

USFS is receiving public comment regarding proposed changes through Friday, June 21

By Eugenia Jones
eugenia@highland.net

As a District Ranger for the United States Forest Service’s Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF), Stearns District Ranger Tim Reed encourages the public to submit comments regarding a current proposal seeking to increase recreation fees at twenty-five sites and to implement new fees at nine sites within Kentucky’s DBNF. With four McCreary County sites (Appletree Shooting Range, Barren Fork Horse Camp, Great Meadows, and Natural Arch) among the total of thirty-four sites identified within the proposal, the Stearns Ranger District is one of four DBNF districts affected by the proposal. The DBNF stretches across twenty-one counties of eastern Kentucky and has more than 100 outdoor recreation facilities, which include campgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps, shooting ranges, trails, and other sites.
According to a press release from the Winchester, KY supervisor’s office, the proposal would enable the agency to improve facilities and services at the identified sites and create prices consistent with comparable facilities on public and private lands. The proposed changes align with the U. S. Forest Service Southern Region’s price guidance.
Locally, Stearns District Ranger Reed said the majority (80% to 95%) of fees collected on the DBNF under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) stay on the forest and do not go to the general U.S. treasury. Instead, these funds are generally used for site maintenance, upkeep, and improvement projects.
“These funds are an important part of providing sustainable recreation facilities for our public into the future,” Reed noted. “We are working on an NRA grant for the planned remodeling of the Appletree Shooting Range in McCreary County, but it will only cover a portion of the cost, probably about 25% of the total. REA fees collected will be used to cover much of the remaining cost.”
According to Reed, plans for the Appletree shooting range include basically a new rebuild of the site including paving of the existing walkway, new concrete pad for the firing line, new shelter for the firing line, new shooting benches, BB board, trash cans, earthen berm backstops, new target holders, etc. Despite engineers having determined that, due to the terrain and grade of the walkway, the range cannot meet the regulatory specifications required to be handicapped assessable, the upgrades will make the range much more accessable than it currently is. Reed is hopeful the project will start later this year or early next year depending on funding and may be completed in stages.
The current proposal for fee changes in the DBNF includes the following changes in McCreary County:
Appletree Shooting Range (Target Range) – Daily from $3 to $5; 3-Day from $5 to $7; Annual from $30 to $50 (Identical changes are proposed for the Keno Shooting Range in Pulaski County.)
Barren Fork Horse Camp (Horse Camp) – Daily from $8 to $15; Two-Day from $12 to abolish; Annual $100 to abolish
Great Meadows (Campground) – Daily $15; Double $20 (McCreary)-both loops
Natural Arch (Picnic Site) – Daily from $3 to $5; 3-Day from $5 to $7; Annual from $30 to $50 (McCreary)
According to Reed, the proposed fee changes for camping at Barren Fork and Great Meadows will better align the sites with similar locations across the region and partially help provide for sustainable facilities at these camping locations in the future.
“Fees on our forest have not changed since they were implemented more than seventeen years ago,” Reed explained. “This proposal would help align our program with a more up-to-date pricing structure so quality services can continue to be provided in the future. There are many facilities within the Stearns Ranger District that are not proposed and remain free. Hemlock Grove Picnic site, Bell Farm Campground, Jellico and Rock Creek dispersed campsites, Alpine Picnic Site, Sawyer, Jasper Bend and Noe’s Dock Boat Ramps, and all the trailhead parking areas would remain free sites under this proposal.”
According to Forest Supervisor, Dan Olsen, more than a million visitors are welcomed to the DBNF each year.
“We have upgraded and improved many of our recreation fee sites,” Olsen said. “These fee changes will help ensure these outdoor opportunities are available for years to come and our recreation areas are maintained at a standard that our visitors expect.”
For more information or to provide comments about the fee proposals, contact Tom Fouts at 859-745-3100 or email tom.fouts@usda.gov. Written comments may be mailed to Recreation Fee Proposals, Daniel Boone National Forest, 1700 Bypass Road, Winchester, Ky., 40391. Individuals may also comment online by going to https://www.fs.usda.gov/dbnf and following the link. Reed also noted that comment cards are available at the USFS Stearns District office located alongside Highway 27, north of Whitley City.
Comments must be received no later than Friday, June 21.

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