Seniors to lose camping discounts with US Forest Service proposal

Wasn’t this supposed to be one of life’s fair trades? After you spend decades working hard, the US government treats you to a senior’s half-off discount at US Forest Service parks during your retirement.

Well, now the Forest Service is rethinking that.

Last week, it proposed cutting back the discounts for Senior, Access (permanent disability), Golden Age, and Golden Access to 10%, instead of the current 50% — a discount that has been in place since the mid-60s.

These changes would go into effect at the campgrounds operated by private concessioners, which make up 50% of National Forest camping capacity and 82% of reservable campsites.

Among the reasons for the change are (to quote the Forest Service) “application of the 50 percent discount to holders of Senior and Access Passes is unreasonable in view of the growing number of senior citizens in the United States.” Also, “the 50 percent discount requires concessioners to raise camping fees to compensate for the loss in revenue, thus increasing prices for non-seniors and discouraging a future generation of campers.”

Thankfully, the new policy is not set in stone quite yet. The public has until February 1, 2010 to dispute the proposal.

Those who wish to can submit comments via the website, or via mail to U.S. Forest Service, Attn: Carolyn Holbrook, Recreation and Heritage Resources Staff, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1125, Washington, DC 20250–1125.