The areas where visitors are charged for standard amenity recreation fees at the Mount Lemmon Recreation Area in the Coronado National Forest will decrease starting July 4.
“We used to charge for Mount Lemmon as more of a whole, just a big chunk and what we’ve done instead now is we’ve broken it down to 11 individual sites where fees will be charged,” said Heidi Schewel, communications officer for Coronado National Forest. “And, those are sites that have amenities such as toilets, picnic tables, barbecue grills.”
Seventeen of the 28 developed recreation sites will no longer collect fees from visitors. The 11 areas that will still collect fees are: Molino Basin, Cypress, Middle Bear, Chihuahua Pine, Palisades Visitor Center, Box Elder, Inspiration Rock, Alder, Loma Linda, Marshall Gulch and Mount Lemmon Recreation Site, said a news release provided by Coronado National Forest.
The Mount Lemmon Recreation Site at the peak of the mountain will not immediately begin charging visitors until some time this fall when a new parking site is anticipated to be completed for the Summit Trails.
The decrease in areas charging "day use" fees could mean reduction in funding for park operations such as maintenance, Schewel said. But she does not want to speculate yet.
“We don’t know how many people are going to be going to these sites, so that’s why we really don’t want to say this is what we collected in the past and this is what we’re going to collect in the future,” she said. “We don’t know what we’re going to collect in the future.”
All areas collecting fees will have designated signs directing visitors to the pay station. Where there are no signs, Schewel said visitors are not required to pay.
Yoohyun Jung is a University of Arizona journalism student and intern at Arizona Public Media