The picture above is near one of the campgrounds that the Forest Service is planning to close in a Recreation Site Analysis in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. It appears that the FS is using a new tool to take public comment on this proposal where you can go comment on each specific site on a map.
(You can comment here: https://usfs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html…)
This tool let’s you read the other comments. Here is a sampling of what some people are saying about the plan to close this campground:
“Further proving how out of touch the ANF is. Basically anything anyone actually uses they decide to close!?!? Boat access camping is overpacked and needs expanded not closed! Have we thought about management change with someone who really wants people to use the land the tax payers pay for? Before we close a site especially a visitor center or even a bathroom facility it may be time to shorten ANF staff, office buildings or vehicles so the people can enjoy their own land.”
“Im really starting to wonder if these proposals were ever even thought through for a second. The proposal to close pine grove campsite is absolutely IDIOTIC! This campsite is utilized by boaters and hikers alike consistently all season long. Its easy access from wolf run marina, and the fact that its a center point of the rez, makes it all the more important to keep as an option for the many people looking to camp legally. As you’ve already heard 100 times, this will only create more illegal camping, resulting in a shorline strewn with garbage, not to mention a very frustrated public that plans to camp and finds they are being forced to camp illegally and chancing a hefty fine. Just absolutely NONSENSE.”
“As someone who has camped at Pine Grove from a young age to now with my family and own children I urge you to reconsider this closure. Pine Grove is not only heavily utilized due to its gorgeous views and family friendly campsite but also because of its close location to Wolf Run Marina. Almost every weekend this camp site is at full capacity along with all the other camping areas. Such closure will sadly only result in many campers using illegal shoreline as an alternative to a designated site. I feel that Pine Grove is ideal for families with small children because of the close proximity to Wolf Run Marina, in case of an emergency this closeness is imperative for many families to feel comfortable being in the woods and away from cell phone service. If an emergency occurred knowing your vehicle and the marina is only a few minute boat ride away could mean life or death in a true emergency. […] I honestly can’t think of one good reason to move forward with this proposed closure.”
They are also proposing to restrict what appears to be the only area open to primitive dispersed camping. Here’s the FS proposal:
The Forest Service is proposing to remove the vault toilet. Restrict camping to the east side of the road, with designated campsites between the road and the creek. Install a kiosk with camping and fishing information. Prohibit camping on the east side of the road to discourage large groups from using the area, restrict access and restore vegetation and ground cover.
Again, the locals who have been commenting aren’t supportive of this proposal. Here’s another sampling:
“This is a very popular for camping. Please don’t take away wonderful campsites in the Ridgway area. We are working hard to promote visitors and expand our rural economy. The forest is an important part of our lives in the middle of nowhere.”
“I think more emphasis should be focused on opening more camp sites rather than shutting them down. Remove the toilet and keep things simple. Don’t install anything that can be vandalized. Stupid local kids will go out and “road trip” and destroy things and then the tourists won’t be able to enjoy the ANF campsites.”
“Why would you want to discourage large groups? I know lots of families that get together and camp at that spot. I’ve been camping in this area for decades. The bathroom needs fixed and reopened. It’s very convenient for small children and those with disabilities. I know many locals that frequent that area, and if there is trash, which most times there is not, they clean it up. Don’t take away one of the few things locals have to do there.”
The comment deadline is today (September 10, 2021), and it will only take a few minutes to add your voice to the chorus of others who want the FS to maintain and keep open the campsites and recreation amenities in the Allegheny National Forest.
Here’s the link to the comment tool: https://usfs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html…
Dispersed Camping in the news
We’ve been tracking news articles related to Dispersed Camping to keep an eye on public narratives that are evolving. Here are a few from this week:
Crested Butte’s new camping rules are restoring resources and producing few complaints — so far
Homeless Camps in National Forests Increase Amid Pandemic
New Camping Restrictions in the Works Near Moab
We also recently learned that the Moab Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management in Utah is looking to impose new camping restrictions in the popular dispersed camping areas around Moab. These proposals are in the initial stages of planning, and they haven’t yet opened the proposal for public feedback. We will let you know when they do. here are links to the two proposals:
The Dispersed Camping Access Alliance is a special Project of the BlueRibbon Coalition. In addition to keeping you informed about issues related to dispersed camping access, we engage with management agencies on the issues we share with you. Our organization has also been successfully defending recreation access to public land in the courts since 1987. We are able to fight because of the generous contributions from our members and supporters. We hope you’ll consider a donation to support our efforts.