APRIL 28, 1997

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New trailhead fees

trailhead fees Hikers, horseback riders, and other recreation trail users will be asked to pay trailhead parking fees in several of the national forests of Washington beginning this summer. As part of the "Trails for Generations" program, fees collected from the Trail-Park pass program will supplement shrinking national forest maintenance budgets for deteriorating trail systems.
   The Trail-Park pass is part of an experimental recreation fee program approved by Congress. Up to 80 percent of revenues raised will remain in local areas where the fees are collected, according to Denny Bschor, forest supervisor of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
   "This is an opportunity for trail users to directly help maintain their recreation trails well into the future," Bschor said. Nearly a million people visit trails in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, Wenatchee and Olympic National Forests each year.
   The new Trail-Park passes, similar to Washington State Sno-Park permits, can be used in any of the eight national forests participating in the program, including some in Oregon. Over 350 trailheads in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie, Wenatchee, and Olympic National Forests will be included in the fee program. Some trailheads will be free.
   Lorette Ray, an public affairs specialist with the Forest Service, said vehicles parked within a quarter of a mile of trailheads with signs displaying the Trail-Park symbol, must have a pass. She said that hunters, off-trail users, and logging road cruisers won't have to pay if they don't park within a quarter mile of trailheads.
   It is hoped that Trail-Park passes will be ready for sale beginning late in May at offices and visitor centers of participating national forests. Permits will be required sometime in June. Volunteers who complete two days of work to improve forest trails will qualify for a free annual Trail-Park pass.
   Fees will be $3 per day or $25 for a vehicle parking pass good all year. Specific information about Trail-Park pass availability, sales location, and volunteer opportunities can be obtained at local national Forest Service offices.