While concessionaires welcome a U.S. Forest Service proposal to drastically reduce discounts to seniors and the
disabled at concession-managed campgrounds, another group is railing against the plan.
The Forest Service is proposing to lower the discounts to senior and disabled pass holders from 50 percent to 10
percent at concession-managed campgrounds in national forests and grasslands.
The suggested change, announced publicly for the first time in the Dec. 1 Federal Register, came after concessionaires,who manage 50 percent of national forest camping capacity, requested the Forest Service consider the change.
Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No Fee Coalition, is rallying her organization's members to fight the
Under previous policy, lifetime passes and substantial discounts to seniors and the disabled was a way to honor their
contribution to our nation and ensure them access to the benefits of outdoor recreation," said Benzar, who lives in
Durango. I guess that's out the window now. No special honor, no more special breaks. 'Pay up or stay home' now
applies to everyone."
The concessionaires, particularly the smaller ones, said offering the steep discount is making it difficult for them to
be profitable, and thus sustainable, according to a Forest Service notice of the proposed change. As the baby boomer
generation reaches 62, the age when a person qualifies for the Senior Pass, the cost of the 50 percent discount for
concessionaires is projected to increase from the current $4 million annually to $6 million by 2022.
We need to make sure the American public continues to fully enjoy the opportunity to recreate on national forests and
grasslands," Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a news release. Passes and discounts at concession-operated
campgrounds and day-use sites are an important part of ensuring these recreation opportunities remain viable in the
Campgrounds operated by the Forest Service will still offer the 50 percent discounts to seniors and disabled campers.
The Forest Service also noted that it is the only government agency that offers such a steep discount and said that a
10 percent discount is more in keeping with senior discounts offered in the public and private sectors.