Hikers start the White Pine Trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. The Forest Service is proposing fees for a number of trails in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache national forest.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

A new proposal from the U.S. Forest Service would require fees for dozens of trailheads, campsites and day use areas throughout the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, a region that spans nearly all of northeastern Utah and sees upward of 13 million annual visits.

The Forest Service says these fees will provide important revenue to maintain services like toilets, picnic areas, fire rings, parking lots and more, as visitation to the area continues to surge.

But questions around equity remain, with advocates worried the proposal could make it difficult for families to access their public lands, especially those in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons that have been historically free.

“If you’ve been up in the mountains, you know how overrun they are. It’s really degrading the canyons at this point,” said former Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, who served on the Central Wasatch Commission, but stressed he was not speaking on its behalf.

“There should be a fee structure to give the Forest Service more resources,” he said, “but I’m always concerned about equity, and are we excluding people from access? I think that issue needs to be addressed.”


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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News


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