The U.S. Forest Service is phasing out regular support and maintenance at a string of Jackson County's older, out-of-the-way campgrounds because of low public use, but they will remain accessible as free, pack-in sites beginning this summer.
Faced with budget cuts in its recreation program, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest crews throughout the summer will begin removing trash cans and other amenities such as picnic tables and fire rings at seven campgrounds in the backwoods of the forest's High Cascades Ranger District.
The campgrounds affected are the Beaver Dam, Daley Creek and North Fork campgrounds along Forest Service Road No. 37 off Highway 140; the South Fork, Imnaha and Parker Meadows campgrounds; and the Huckleberry Campground off Huckleberry Road east of Crater Lake National Park.
Places such as Parker Meadows and South Fork campgrounds that have water sources will continue to have usable water, said Les Moscoso, the recreation staff officer for the forest's High Cascades Ranger District. Toilets at the campgrounds also will remain open for use, but campers will have to bring their own toilet paper, he said.
A toilet at the Mazama Viewpoint trailhead will be closed year-round, but the trailhead will remain open.
In the past, visitors to these campgrounds have been charged $8 to $10 per night. But the reduced amenities make it appropriate to drop these fees for visitors, Moscoso said.
"They'll still be available for camping," Moscoso said. "We won't be able to maintain them into the future."
The sites were selected based on use, Moscoso said.
The picnic tables and fire rings will be collected gradually over the summer, and they will be stored until they are needed to replace amenities at other, higher-use sites, Moscoso said.
The district was eying a pare-down of its campground support for next year, but cuts expected for next year came this year, Moscoso said.
The changes do not affect the forest's more popular campgrounds, such as Union Creek and Farewell Bend, which operated by a concessionaire. Those campgrounds are along the Highway 62 and 140 corridors, and their amenities and fees will remain unchanged.