Comment Period Ending for Proposed Day use fees at Jackrabbit Trail System

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Act now if you have not already!

The US Forest Service is proposing the implementation of day use fees within the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests specifically targeting mountain trail systems and mountain bikers.  These are trails that are built and maintained by cycling organization members like you.

The trails ARE NOT exclusively for mountain bikers. The trails that are referenced in the USFS bulletin below are used by hikers as well as mountain bikers, often with hikers outnumbering mountain bikers.  Yet, the USFS is proposing that ONLY mountain bikers will be required to pay a day use fee.

We ask that you: 

  1. Read the USFS bulletin below that lays out the proposed day-use fees.
  2. Use the link at the bottom of the bulletin to provide your feedback to the USFS.
  3. If you do not know what to say, please copy and pasted our proposed response as follows:

“I am responding to the USFS Proposed Day-use Fee at the Jackrabbit Mountain Trail System.

It has been stated that the fees collected are for enhancements of the trails and will have 95% of fees directed back to the trail(s) where they are collected.
– What enhancement plans do the USFS have for the Jackrabbit Trail System over the next 5 years that can be shared with the public?
– Will the USFS readily make available to the public, data on the fees collected at the Jackrabbit Trail System on a regular basis such as quarterly or at a minimum annually?
– Will the USFS readily make available to the public, data on expenditures on the Jackrabbit Trail System including to whom expenses were paid?

The USFS is suggesting that it MUST use the Specialized Recreation Permit fee targeting mountain bikers.  The USFS has installed permanent facilities such as a picnic tables, cooking grills, a vault toilet and a parking lot that are able to be used by anyone. In review of the Recreation Enhancements Act, these permanent facilities would qualify the application of the Standard Use Fee that can be applied to ALL users of the facilities. 

It was the mountain bike community organized under the Southern Appalachian Bicycle Association in partnership with the Clay County Citizens Revitalization Authority that raised funds through grants and donations, oversaw the work and contributed untold hours of volunteer labor to build and maintain the Jackrabbit Trail System.  A conservative estimate of $1,000,014.00 has been invested by these organizations in Jackrabbit Trail System.

The estimated usage of the trail system is 70% non-biker and 30% biker.  By only applying a fee to mountain bikers a considerable amount of revenue is being lost.

I urge the USFS to re-evaluate the current fee proposal for ways to apply the day-use fee equally to ALL users of the Jackrabbit Trail System.”

Don’t Delay, Act Now!…Your Input Matters!

Thanks for your support. See you on the trails!

Rod Fortney 
Southern Appalachian Bicycle Association 

USFS Bulletin

National Forests in North Carolina
Media Contact: Tim Buskirk, 308-360-3059
U.S. Forest Service proposes recreation fee changes on Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests
ASHEVILLE, NC, June 23, 2023 — The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to change fees at two recreation areas on the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests and the public is invited to provide input to proposed fee changes for 60 days beginning on June 23rd, 2023 and ending on August 22nd, 2023. The goal of these changes is to improve visitor experiences through site and trail upgrades paid for by the collected fees. 
These fee changes are only proposed. After public comment is received, the Forest will assess the comments and concerns and then present the fee proposals to the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) at a future date.
“Access to our unique and challenging trails is something many of us strongly value. The high level of use these trails receive make increased maintenance and enhancements imperative for responsible trail management. While none of us would prefer to have a fee associated with mountain bike and equestrian use of these trails, these funds would greatly expand our capacity and ability to improve and maintain these important trails,” said Dave Casey, District Ranger of the Pisgah Ranger District.
The proposed fee changes the Forest Service seeks comment on includes:
*These fees would only apply to mountain bike and equestrian use. The Pisgah Complex consists of the Bent Creek, North Mills River, South Mills River, and 276 Corridor areas on the Pisgah Ranger District.
Additionally, the following fee proposals went through the required public participation process in 2019 and are awaiting review by the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee:
  • Brown Mountain OHV Trail System – increase from $5 to $15/trail vehicle per day, and increase from $30 to $60 for the optional annual pass**
  • Roan Mountain Day Use Area – increase from $3 to $5/vehicle per day and optional $30 annual pass***
  • Swan cabin – increase from $25 per night to $50 per night
  • Tsali Mountain Bike and Horse Trail System – increase from $2 to $5/rider per day, and increase from $15 to $30 for optional annual pass
  • Wayehutta OHV Trail System – increase from $5 to $15/trail vehicle per day, and increase from $30 to $60 for the optional annual pass**
**As proposed, these fees would be phased-in over a two-year period
***The full suite of Interagency Passes would be honored
In 2004, Congress passed the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) which allows the Forest Service to retain funds collected at certain recreation sites and used these funds locally to operate, maintain, and improve these sites. The resource derived through collection of fees helps provide quality recreation opportunities that meet the modern expectations of visitors and creates a more financially sustainable developed recreation program for the benefit of future generations.
Under REA, all new fees and any fee changes must be proposed to and approved by a citizen’s advisory committee. Committee members represent a broad array of recreation interest groups to help ensure that the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable new fees and fee changes.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed fee changes by August 22nd, 2023. For more information visit our webpage at To provide comments about this fee proposal for the RRAC to consider, please comment online at online at our Recreation Fee Proposal Mapping Tool or contact Logan Free at 828-257-4256, by email at, or by mail at:

ATTN: Recreation Fee Proposals
160A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28801

“USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.”

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