Site fees at the Fort Pickens and Davis Bayou campgrounds at Gulf Islands National Seashore will jump 50 percent and more under a proposal the seashore is seeking public comment on.
In announcing the proposed increases, Superintendent Dan Brown said the higher fees -- which would represent the first increase since 1997 if approved -- are intended in part so the seashore's campgrounds don't undersell commercial campgrounds in the area.
Under the proposal, the camping fees at Fort Pickens Campground in Florida will go from $20 to $30 a day, and at the Davis Bayou Campground in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, from $16 to $26. The camping fees at both campgrounds include electric and water hookups.
Senior Pass and Access Pass holders would continue to receive a 50 percent discount.
Over the past 16 years, rates at private and state park campgrounds have risen to keep pace with increasing costs, the seashore noted in announcing the proposed increases. The new rates "would make the camping fees at Gulf Islands National Seashore comparable with those of other camping facilities in the area to avoid unfair competition," the release added.
Fees authorized by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, such as camping or entrance fees, cannot be used to supplement operating budgets or hire staff. Eighty percent of these fees are retained by the national seashore, however, and can be used to help repair, improve, or replace visitor facilities.
In recent years fee revenues have replaced outdated restrooms in Davis Bayou Campground, purchased john boats for marsh tours, and upgraded the park radio system for increased visitor safety and emergency response. Upcoming projects include replacing the restrooms in the Fort Pickens Campground, remodeling the Fort Pickens Campground store, redesigning the entrance stations at Fort Pickens and Perdido Key to speed entry and reduce lines, and installing solar panels on West Ship Island to provide clean and renewable energy for visitor facilities.
Public comments on the proposed increases are being taken through March 25. They can be sent via email, or by regular mail to:
Gulf Islands National Seashore
Attn: Fee Program
1801 Gulf Breeze Pkwy
Gulf Breeze, FL 32563