The Hoosier National Forest is proposing charging a fee for camping at many campgrounds that used to be free and increasing rates at some others.
The $10 per night fee would be used for small improvements and maintenance at some of the forests’ campgrounds — like new picnic tables, fire rings, and more defined campsites and parking.
Stacy Duke is the forest’s program manager for the Brownstown and Tell City ranger districts. She said, don’t worry, the more primitive campsites wouldn’t get more developed — you’re not going to see electric hookups and full-scale bathrooms there any time soon.
“Still offer that primitive character but just a little bit better maintenance overall, increasing the recreation experience in a positive direction for folks," Duke said.
Duke said some funding sources for the Hoosier National Forest have stayed flat for decades and haven’t caught up with inflation. Meanwhile, COVID-19 has brought more people to the forest.
“So as recreation use increases and the population increases and we're struck with a pandemic — certainly maintenance needs increase as well," Duke said.
Campground rates at Hardin Ridge, Tipsaw Lake, and Indian-Celina Lakes would stay the same. Camping in the forest outside of designated campground areas would still be free.
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Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.