Gulf Islands Natl. Seashore Hikes Camp Fees
Camping fees at Gulf Islands National Seashore’s Fort Pickens campground will increase from $20 to $26 on Friday (May 17) to adjust for increasing operational costs and to be compatible with other similar campgrounds in the area.
Fees also will increase from $16 to $22 at the seashore’s Davis Bayou campground in Mississippi, the Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal reported.
Traditionally fee rates are reviewed about every seven to eight years.
But camping fees at the national seashore have not changed since 1997, even though salaries have increased by 53% and electrical rates and usage have increased by more than 50%, said Dan Brown, seashore superintendent.
The seashore put off the rate hikes while dealing with the aftermath of 2004-05 hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, during which time the Fort Pickens Road and campground were closed until spring of 2009.
The new fee reflects a compromise by seashore officials who proposed slightly higher fee increases of $30 at Fort Pickens and $26 at Davis Bayou campgrounds.
But these amounts were reduced after a public input process, Brown said.
A majority of public comments supported the proposed increases, but those who weighed-in preferred a smaller, incremental increase, he said.
The new rates will make the seashore camping fees comparable with state park facilities that are similarly situated and have comparable facilities, Brown said.
The camping fees at both campgrounds include electric and water hookups.
Prior reservations made at the old price will be honored.
Campers 62 years old or older with Senior passes or those with Access passes for disabilities receive a 50% discount.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act allows the seashore to retain 80% of the camping and entrance fees to help repair, improve or replace visitor facilities.
In recent years fee revenues have replaced outdated restrooms in Davis Bayou Campground, purchased Jon boats for marsh tours and upgraded the park radio system for increased visitor safety and emergency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 and redesigning the entrance stations at Fort Pickens and Perdido Key to speed entry and reduce lines.