Tonto National Forest to look at sustainability of recreation sites
Officials with the Tonto National Forest will be holding public meetings over the next two months. They want to get input on possible changes to the forest’s 215 developed recreation sites.They acknowledge changes are likely coming.
"Given the national economic conditions, we simply cannot run our developed recreation sites with traditional funding sources," said Greg Schuster, Tonto National Forest Recreation Planner. "And, it has caused us to realize that we need to make a change in how we manage these facilities and locations."
Schuster says officials want to hear from forest users, about which sites they value and how much they’re willing to pay to use them, among other things. He says officials need to find a balance between charging fees, and keeping sites open.
"It is possible that services could be reduced, that unused facilities or facilities that simply don’t meet the public’s needs today could disappear. We may find through the public that some sites just aren’t worth keeping open, and they’d rather see their public resources invested in other areas," Schuster said.
But, he says sites won’t necessarily close just because people say they don’t want to pay for them. Forest users will be able to offer their comments at open houses in January and February, as well as online. Schuster doesn't think any changes in fees or sites closing would be made until 2014.