CARBONDALE, Colo. (CBS4) – The USDA Forest Service is asking for public comment on a proposed special recreation permit fee for overnight camping in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.

Maroon Bells Mountains in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness (credit: iStock/Getty Images)

“The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness is an iconic wilderness destination that is seeing significant impacts from heavy overnight use, including trash and waste, user conflicts, and loss of vegetation,” forest service officials stated.

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Under the proposal, a $12 per night, per person, fee would be charged for an overnight permit for the most-visited areas in the Maroon-Bells Snowmass Wilderness from May 1 through Oct. 31. Permits would be available on Recreation.gov, which charges an additional processing fee (currently $6).

Fees would fund restoration of heavily damaged areas, increased ranger presence, increased public education, improvements to trail access, and expansion of the wildlife safety program.

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“In the last 10 years, use has nearly quadrupled in this wilderness area, and we are seeing significant overcrowding and environmental damage” said White River Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. “The majority of the revenue generated from the fees would be used on-site to manage these areas, which is key to allowing us to reduce resource damage and continue providing high quality recreation opportunities.

If approved, the fees would go into effect in 2022 for overnight permits at Conundrum Hot Springs, the “Four Pass Loop” (which includes Crater Lake and Snowmass Lake), Geneva Lake, and Capitol Lake.

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More information about the proposal and how to comment is available at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/whiteriver