Friday, September 22, 2023


As demand soars, Forest Service closes campgrounds

What is the U.S. Forest Service doing to meet the increasing demand for more camping opportunities?

By Scott Linden
Your tax dollars (not) at work? I doubt there’s a better example of bureaucratic disconnect than the tone-deaf U.S. Forest Service’s cutting the number of campgrounds while demand soars. It’s contributing to “campground crowding” on a national scale, perpetrated by folks who, ostensibly, work for us.

My investigation was slow-walked by bureaucrats several times, but I ultimately overcame the stonewalling and got some answers. (Washington D.C. has learned the slower they respond to reporters’ questions, the fewer stories like this will see the light of day.) It started months ago, with a simple question: What is the U.S. Forest Service doing to meet the increasing demand of taxpayers for more camping opportunities?

After some chain-yanking, diplomatic acrobatics, and a boatload of playing nice while biting my tongue, I got a straight answer and you’re not going to like it: Since 2012, the annual growth rate in campground use has risen 10 percent while the number of campgrounds shrank 5 percent. That’s before the COVID-fueled onslaught of fresh-air seekers in motorcoaches, trailers and tents seeking “social distance.”

Campground in Tahoe National Forest

In what economics textbook does this make sense? My first reaction was, “Where’s the beef?” But I got nothin’ but grease and free napkins.

Say what?

I was first assured things were well in hand. Al Remley, Forest Service Acting Assistant Director, Recreation, said: “We are working on plans to add more campsites to existing campgrounds and to further enhance and develop existing campsites and campgrounds to better accommodate expected future use and demand.”

This land is your land … or is it?

Let’s be clear: This is land owned by the citizens of the U.S. The Forest Service should be managing it as their first chief Gifford Pinchot instructed, for “the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run.” That includes the millions of tax-paying RV travelers looking for a parking place next weekend, doesn’t it?

You decide if they are

Some numbers: The U.S. Forest Service owns and manages (or mismanages) more than 4,700 campgrounds. That’s a net loss since 2010 of 264 facilities that could be your next destination, now gone. That’s 89,494 campsites … before the COVID-related explosion in demand. You know what’s happened since? Closed signs, denied reservations, mob scenes and traffic jams at check-out time, on land we all own but can’t use. With a budget of $5.14 billion, they can’t find a few million to scrape off (and try to level) some more dirt?

Policymakers … without a policy

Worse yet, Remley said the feds don’t have a national policy for campground expansion, leaving it to local bureaucrats. Don’t be holding your breath for one, either. These are the same government employees whose budgets are already squeezed by fire fighting (how’s that workin’ for ya?), managing squatter populations and silly initiatives from restricting wilderness trail access to selling parking passes.

There is little incentive for seeking additional campground funding, as it piles on more workload—something unionized government employees are loath to accept. And don’t hold your breath for Congress’ help. A high-ranking Forest Service official who asked to remain anonymous said, “Forests do not receive enough appropriations to operate and maintain their existing sites.” Read: No new spots for your pull-behind, motorhome or truck camper.

Your turn

Independent research—and your own experience—foretells an onslaught of RV and tent camping demand this summer and long into the future. So, if you want a place to park, and you want your money’s worth from the federal land you own, call your local forest supervisor and ask why they’re not opening more campgrounds.



  1. Article is right on! Im a full time boondocker and these government agencies waste and misuse taxpayers money, I see it all the time, while restricting access to public land and privatizing them! Ignore the nutjob comments below, they are paid shills of certain political party!

  2. I can understand some frustration, but I could NEVER support your argument. Yes, the parks and camp sites are crowded, but statements like “they can’t find a few million to scrape off (and try to level) some more dirt?” Is the exact reason why the national parks were created in the first place. With the mentality of just scrape it so we can sell the land until we have a parking lot, why even come? The parks were created to “conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and… leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” Unimpaired being the key word there.

    I find it sad that the extraordinary land that has been set aside is (to you) as worthless as a the soil and rock its created from. Like saying a rare car is only worth it’s value of scrap metal. I really hope you understand what you are complaining about.

  3. It’s not just the forest service that we are getting screwed by ,here on the Oregon Coast they have raised the price of parking and park entery as well as camping fees while drastically cutting back on our access to usable facilities and setting parking at a further distance making it impossible for some elderly to have what should be public access to the people’s land and as usual it’s all BS the government has already taking away so many emenities in our lives to make sure we cannot have fun and have tried to lock us in our homes and throw away the keys and it’s high time that we the people say we have had enough and remind them who in the hell they work for and whoa land they are dealing with ,the rich get richer while the poor get homeless attitude does not work and I will use my second amendment rights if necessary to get the government back on track with my fellow Americans if that’s what it’s gonna take to get it threw their heads that the BS NEEDS TO STOP THIS IS USA NOT USSR

  4. If the forest service didn’t have to spend so much time cleaning up after “people” who lack the common sense and decency to not leave garbage, destruction and literal excrement behind then maybe they could handle more campsites

    • So one is to believe that FS people cant do their jobs, because of clean up. Nonsense. Mismanagement is at the core of that agency. Needs a good house cleaning.

  5. Statements of fact are different than those of opinion. Opinions disguised as Facts defines propaganda. This is based the lies of opinions bs to hide the fact that this result of the pyramid economics of Reaganomics.
    Starting with Reagans tenure and expanded into Trump’s, Republican Administrations have cut fiscal resources to maintain our National Forests.. Since labor or human beings are the biggest expense, due to structure of pyramid Capitalism, they are the first cut.
    This was to hollow out the NON UNIONIZED Forest Service and to encourage out sourcing labor with Commercial development. This resulted in lower labor costs and with low pay entry level jobs. There’s ot enough labor available to maintain campgrounds let alone the forests.

    Of course, it’s SOP, for Republicans to blame THE GOVERNMENT AND NON EXISTING UNION LABOR FOR THE PROBLEM THEY CREATED. But these opinions work well with those w/ white skin tones that make them feel entitled at the expense of We Taxpayers

    • You cannot limit this to just the forest service the parks and rec services are doing the same type of stuff locally they are spending a billion dollars on south jetty repairs supposibly but so far all I see is the north jetty getting our access limited and the government spending a rediculous amount of money bringing in 3 rocks at a time on semis with flat bed trailers and I kid you not this is happening ,AND they also choose to endanger us by letting companies like FB do offshore drilling The earth plates on the Pacific ocean are fragile a earthquake would cause a tsunami and I could see drilling causing a earthquake ,people need to start speaking up like this and speak loudly and stop this abuse from the government in so so many ways

    • Are u crazy?? Its the rich {bleeped} who are bribing govt. workers in a position to liquidate our public lands to sell pieces of the most pristine areas so they can build their mansions in seclusion and keep the “riff raff” i.e. those who are not rich,out!! I can show you a prime example in my hometown of Oshkosh Wisconsin we’re a local University of Wisconsin official transferred state owned land to the university, then transferred said Land from the universities ownership to a private university support organization who in turn sold the state-owned land which by the way is hundreds of acres of state-owned wildlife refuge with State maintained trails that is now in the private ownership of one rich man who bought the local country club also. So now he built his mansion in the middle of said wildlife refuge my name is Bob I live in Oshkosh Wisconsin and you may reach me at k r u s e r s e n i o r 1 @ gmail . com you come visit me and I will take you there and show you!!

      • Wow, that is so sad! It’s basically the same as what’s happening here in my home in SW Colorado. The extremely rich communities around telluride are slowly but surely bribing officials to sell off public land and taking advantage of how desperate the FS and CPW are for the funds to maintain what they already struggle with through ever shrinking budgets and exploding visitor numbers. One of my favorite places on earth when I was young was just off the water on the back side of my favorite lake at the base of 12000 ft peaks, last time I went there, this place specifically and many areas along the roads are now owned by billionaires in Texas who run massive amounts of cattle and undercut the local farmers with the sheer volume they are capable of. I used to sit on the edge of the lake in the early morning and watch the heard of elk at least 100 strong come to the bank of the water to drink, most days shortly after the farmers who at the time grazed their herds on public land had brought their cows down to drink. Now the only one of said farmers that I actually knew, (or my father did), had gone bankrupt and been forced to retire because he can no longer use the land he needed and that [bleeped] from Texas bought up all the water rights. I’d never understood untill last year why my father never wanted to go back. Well the elk never come near the lake anymore because it’s consumed by 100s of cows mooing and shitting around the shore all the time.
        Still most, people will continue to blame the government without realizing that we are the government if we choose to be.

        • Hunt brothers did this in Idaho. Needs to be a law to limit out of state people from owning so much and not millions of acres.

  6. NFS is not the only one closing them down.
    Tva just shut down Harmon creek. A place were campers could set up for the day or year.
    After the land lease owner past away. And now tva staes there is no orperater for grounds. This was one of the places were large trallers were alowed to setup for a yearly feed. Some have ben there for long time. Now those foks will lose there traller because of cost to move it. Most of the traller owners are elderly and can’t aford that cost. After march 15 2022 they become tva’s property and I sure will be sold.

  7. “There is little incentive for seeking additional campground funding, as it piles on more workload—something unionized government employees are loath to accept.” Scott, I don’t know what your background is, but it sure isn’t journalism, and it’s obvious that you’ve never been a union member. Being competent in driving and camping in an RV doesn’t qualify you to bloviate about subjects you clearly know nothing about. Time for you to go back to nature.

    By the way, shame on RV Travel’s editors for giving you a platform. I thought they had higher standards than that.

  8. So Yeah, I thought camping was about being out in the wilderness without technology of what 90% of Americans take camping with them. This is absolutely rediculous to think people are worried about a place to park an RV equipped with television computers cell phone chargers ect… This is what you’ve taught your children. No good Robinhood camping consist of family and or friends tents, sleeping bags, campfires and fun. Man kind has become a disgrace to humanity and our country and have no respect for God’s land. No one owns anything life itself is blessing. I say take all parking spaces from campgrounds and if you want to go camping pack everything in the old fashion way. No vehicles no RV’s tents and sleeping bags good old family fun.

    • That is a nice thought but there is way to many women who will say hell no to no hot water or curling irons ,technology has made us dependant as well as ignorant ,personally I go to the bank of the rivers to camp the old fashion way even if it’s posted no camping because there is no reason in it everyone just needs to remember Pack it in Pack it out don’t leave a mess or your garbage that is what started all this

  9. Camping 50 years. not a new guy. I have a baby now and limited time to camp so I have to make reservations. eight years ago I tried calling different for service ranger stations for local information. you already know no one answered the phone. about a year ago I was trying to get information on what dispersed camping was open. tried every ranger station in California left messages and no one ever called me back. I found a website that listed all the email addresses for all the district managers west of the Mississippi. I sent them all an email. about a week later a nice lady in Montana called me wondering why I was emailing her office. i’m in California not Montana by the way. The messages all said were working from home and will get back to you. even email auto responders saying the same thing. out of maybe 50 emails I got one call from a lady five states away. Government workers getting full salary plus benefits working from home not answering the phone or email. Just my experience

  10. thank goodness they got rid of that statue of the guy that was a character in a Robbins Williams movie. Shameful

  11. Unionized Govt workers. that pretty much says it all. they will continue to shrink the number of campsites. because they don’t care. but the good news is there’s a growing number of private campgrounds. for some reason I don’t want to trust the government

    • Fire every government official we have and start from scratch with people who still believe in the constitution instead of trying to abolish it

      • It cost too much to fire them but I get your point. Union contracts allow them a cheque if they work or if they don’t. Severance adds up.

      • And as much as I don’t believe in the death penalty, make it a capitol offence for any public servant to take money from anyone ever except their pension. Ban them from owning stocks or any kind of business, stop them leaving office and getting just do nothing jobs that pay absurdly (because they served their donors loyally while in office). Hilary Clinton’s wall Street speeches come to mind.

  12. Touring is still viable, but we’ve been “camping” more and more at Cracker Barrel, Walmart, and truck stops. Not like it used to be, unfortunately. What a shame!

  13. Yes. These corrupt politicians know that citizens are awake to their crimes and now they’re spending OUR TAX MONEY to protect themselves.

  14. Truthful article, unfortunately the forest service has spent ever increasing amounts of money on environmental studies and reports that have had no positive effects.
    Recently a large amount of their budget has gone to fighting the recent devastating fires, that were enabled by environmental restrictions on harvest, thinning and clean up of the national forest for over three decades, that allowed the overgrowth of the forest and enabled the bark beetle.
    Please contact your local forest service and ask them to just allow the public back in to the closed areas and campgrounds.
    We don’t need new or updated areas, just reopen the closed ones.

  15. Nice to see somebody start to finally push back. I’ve been fighting the elites in the nature beaurocracy trying to make it where only the 1% can ever camp by putting ridiculous limits on us. I still remember when 20 years ago yosemite got millions to fix campsites and in stead they shut half of them down. They still say they will build them. Someday. Better.

  16. This article is honestly one of the most thoughtless criticisms of the forest service I’ve ever read. So let me break this down piece by piece. To start with, at one point in the article the author points to the 5.14 billion dollar budget that the FS nominally has. I agree 5.14 billion sounds like a ton of money, and for an individual, or even a medium town, it would be. However, the USFS is in charge of caring for over 300,000 SqMi of land (193 million acres), there are near 5000 official marked and managed campgrounds (that’s excluding all of the dispersed campgrounds, which still need some amount of maintenance), and there and over 88,000 miles of maintained trails in the US. So ultimately, that 5.14 billion which sounds so huge, works out to 17,086$ per square mile of land, which is not even enough to pay a single person’s salary for a year, especially not for the backbreaking labor that work can be a lot of times, and no one person could care for an entire square mile. TBC…..

    • Okay so continuing on. Overall the USFS budget works out to 27$ per acre of land. This does not even consider how drastically trump cut their budget, or how it’s been effectively being cut continually since the 70s. This measly 27$ per acre is the reason why most of the work of the forest service is done by volunteers like myself, in many instances, they’ll keep you fed while you’re volunteering, but sometimes theyre spread so thin they, can’t even afford to do that. Also, many areas are closed down or new development is discouraged for the health of the ecosystem. So, whenever you check into a campground, and some of the sights are closed, etc.. realize that the host, who’s job is very difficult (if you think it’s not you should try it. People think because they’re on a CG that they can just trash the place because that’s what the hosts job is, and then there’s assholes who don’t understand that many routes end up closed either to protect nature or because they’re literally too dangerous) realize that that hosts only compensation for that work could very well be the view and somewhere to park their camper, or string up their tent.
      About 2 years ago, not very far from where I live there was a flood that basically ruined miles of a popular trail, ( there were likely more floods than this one, but I saw the devistation of this one) it took dozens of unpaid volunteers, and a few rangers, weeks of continual labor to clean up this trail. There were hundreds of felled trees on the trail, parts of it were washed out completely or covered in debris, it was endless hours of serious labor by dozens of people, over weeks, just to maintain/repair the final 4 miles of a single trail. The management of our forests is falling apart because these people are expected to maintain vast swaths of land, with very little money, no real authority, continually exploding visitor numbers, and a host of environmental disasters. The increase in wildfires and the bark beetle epidemic is not even slightly the fault of the FS……

      • Actually, you’re wrong about President Trump cutting the FS budget. According to the FS Appropriations, 10-year Data and Trends Report shows that Obama cut the budget, and it was increased from FY17 to FY20. Biden cut last year’s budget considerably. The amount of money is important, but when there’s an entirely new set of problems created by squatters, that’s going to take a more defensive approach. Thank you for volunteering.

      • This is a huge problem for the 4×4 community as well. Instead of letting us go in and clear downed trees or maintain trails the dingalings just lock the gate until they get around to it which can be years sometimes. There’s more involved than the author gets into but the fact that the people managing lands are inept is not even debatable. Have you ever seen a private camp ground or off-road park close? Nope because they’re managed properly.

    • Thank you for pointing that out. The individual who wrote this article only briefly mentioned the “squatters,” who have become semi-permanent occupiers on land managed by the FS. Hate it for you, bro, but these aren’t TAX PAYERS! These people who have now taken over FS land, are non-contributing bums, living in broken down RVs. When they leave the forest, they leave a giant mess behind them. Actual TAXPAYERS like me have to pick up the tab. Again, thank you for calling out the individual who wrote this article.

    • Well said. As a volunteer camphost for 7 years, it’s true how people trash the place and disregard safety.
      Please don’t leave your campfire burning, being surrounded by forest fires and smoke.
      Oh, I could write a book!

    • You claim one person can’t care for an entire square mile.. yet thousands of people are able to care for far more than that daily. Ranchers care for and manage hundreds of square miles per individual on an annual basis. Perhaps learn about reality before you stick your foot in your mouth on a public forum. Currently with our crew and acreage, on average, each individual is responsible for approximately 390 acres annually. This includes managing grazing, irrigation, fencing, wildfire mitigation, etc.

      • It’s a far different situation to come in and raze an ecosystem to the ground and replace it with pasture than it is to maintain a forest, a few dozen square miles of farm is easy to maintain comparatively. For one, the land is partioned off and fenced away and posted, and.. oh yeah, you have the authority to literally shoot anyone trespassing, something rangers can’t really get away with. Second, farms and ranches are neatly separated into different sections depending on what you decide to use those sections for, and all of the trees that are in your way are gone, if you didn’t like where the tree was you cut it down and move on. Third, all farming on such a giant scale is done by people with millions of dollars for extremely high tech equipment. The planting and tilling is all done by tractors, and the watering is done by irrigation systems. I’ve known people who actually cared for their individual farm with 1 decent tractor and some water rights, and they’re crushed by the people who can afford equipment to manage large swaths. Finally, you have the complete authority over your farmland. You went in cleared fields completely and drove your giant tractors across the fields, you don’t have to spend hundreds of hours trying to comb over the potential dangers to an ecosystem of taking out trees to build roads, trails, etc. Seriously, people with 100k or more of equipment can easily maintain hundreds of acres of land that has already had a complete ecosystem overhaul, and maintain only the plants and animals that make you money, on land that already has drivable roads to it and is pretty much flat and treeless. It is much more difficult to try to maintain the actual ecosystem of an area. But if you actually think that you could manage hundreds of acres of completely untamed land with no roads while taking extreme are to even inadvertently do anything that could hurt a single animal, and trying to balance people’s right to experience nature with that. All the while you have to continually deal with idiots who degrade the land, or being called away from legit work to help rescue some dumbass who didn’t check the weather to see the multi day snowstorm, before he drove up a closed road, illegally, and now someone has to help them.

    • Ranchers manage far more than that on a annual basis. With our current crew and acreage, we average a tick over 19 square miles per individual on an annual basis. This includes grazing management, water allocation, fencing repair/construction, and wildfire mitigation/ suppression. Still think one person can’t manage over square mile? Perhaps learn more about reality before putting your foot in your mouth next time

      • Comparing managing a private farm with equipment vs public wilderness lands with very little equipment in much of it(you know the official wilderness areas that you can’t even take a bike on. Only living things). Is about like comparing being able to keep a massive private theatre clean with many employees, to having to keep a 30 person bathroom in a NY subway clean singlehandedly during rush hour

  17. Not a thought through opinion on what’s happening. It seems like someone couldn’t take the vacation they wanted, got upset, and wrote this. Get a grip, read the other comments here as they are genuinely more informative than I am. But even I can see that this is an unwarranted rant. Lol. If you like public land so much then just dry camp on BLM land? Stop complaining that you don’t have access to taxpayer funded pull through campsites with utilities for your 40 foot RV. Get a grip

  18. My own opinion because that seems to be what this article is about. Money has been diverted to keep public land accessible and protected from the ever increasing threats of fires. I believe the infrastructure bill includes additional monies to help with better management of (public lands) incorporating indigenous and other strategies. After two years of a pandemic, maybe they’re focus can get back to supporting these better. As for expansion, I believe many state elected officials do not want federal management of their public lands. Maybe you should contact your local and state reps for improvement.

  19. It would suit me just fine if they reduced the number of RV camping spots even further. It’s our land. And it’s set aside for everyone to enjoy nature. Not to serve as a parking area for portable motels.

  20. Wow, i guess i should have read the comments before posting what i did. There are some Wacko’s, with Wacko comments. Blaming Trump, the one person mentioned. For that person, how about Obama! Biden! What have they done for the FS! Nothing. What about the BLM, nothing. So, for you all don’t live in the West and don’t know Ranchers, or Packing Outfits, that have to deal with the FS or BLM, your shooting from the Hip.

    • All you have on your side are opinions based on rumors from the Party Treason, Trump’s Republican Party. It’s clear you never learned the basic critical thinking skill of telling difference between facts and opinion. Facts can be evaluated or assessed, opinions cannot.
      I’ve lived and camped in the rural west all My life and know Rancher, loggers, Forest Service and firefighters It’s why I can inform you that your opinion is based on grade A manure..

  21. I’m not surprise, at what i read. I know for a fact, the Wilderness areas, are undermanned, and those that pay the FS for clear trails, have to clear themselves. Both, Republicans, and Democrats, have FAILED, to secure more funding for National Parks, and the FS camping. And, i know for a Fact, that in some areas of the USA, Enviromental Wackos have infiltrated the FS, and have pushed their Lame ideas. Anyone that lives in the West, knows, when a Forest Fire burns an area, the Enviro’s, file Law Suits to prevent logging of said, Burned areas.{bleeped}, right! Let’s Log and clean the area, and replant for the next generation. But NO, let it sit there, and look ugly, and un usable for years to come. So, moral of the story, it’s Politics, that screw us all, as far as land use goes.

  22. Garbage! The NFS, BLM, and NPS have suffered for decades with inadequate funding, made worse by the Trump administration. If RVers want to help, vote for people who will increase budgets and get out of your mega-RVs and volunteer to help

  23. If it was up to most of these cry babies this article would not have seen the light of day. Scott, I can appreciate what you are saying even though most do not have a clue. As an avid outdoor enthusiast well into my 60’s I have witnessed the gradual lock down of our public lands. Also, some of the most pristine places I’ve camped at were indeed free. Had to tell it like it is. Tired of the ignorant bashing.

  24. I echo sentiments from other readers — this is not an article, it is an rant-and rave political editorial intended to inflame. Here is just one fact… the USFS has about half the staffing it had 25 years ago to manage and maintain our public lands. Budget and staffing cuts are real.
    Of course we’d all like more and better campgrounds. Me too. But quit using this newsletter to promote your devise views.

  25. The US Forest Service’s job is not to accommodate the increased demand for campsites. It is to preserve the balance of protecting natural resources with the need for recreational opportunity.

    Our natural resourses must have priority over human “demand”.
    If that offended you. I don’t care.

  26. Talk about a crap article. If you did even a modicum of research you’d quickly learn how understaffed the forest service is. Blaming it on unionized employees is your silly opinion and a insult to the hard working folks who manage these lands for us. Stop being an entitled {bleeped} and maybe pick up a shovel or clean a few campgrounds before you call these folk lazy.

  27. Obviously there is a lot of negative comments and reviews of this article below. But I’m here to say that I share in the frustration of the author. And it’s not with just the NFS. The NPS is also leaving more than it’s fair share to be desired. Take my recent trip to Glacier NP this past September 2021. There over 13 campgrounds in Glacier but 4 or 5 of them were closed for the entirety of 2021. This during what everyone knew would be the busiest camping season in American history. No surprise when we were unable to secure a campsite within the park for the first half of our weeklong trip. Yet there was literally hundreds of campsites that sat idle inside the park! Not only that, but half of the remaining campgrounds closed early while we were there, forcing even more campers to look for sites elsewhere outside the park. Adding to the camp search mayhem, the administration brass decided to lift the timed ticketing system for GTSR while at the same time canceling the shuttle program. ??

  28. Active and thoughtful speach, is the bedrock of American Society. I applaud for always including critical articles, that allow fruitful discussions.

  29. Horrible article, or in reality, an opinion piece. Last thing we need is more RVs, humongous trucks and trailers, off road vehicles, etc. on what few forest lands still exist. Leave no trace, not “scrape off (and try to level) some more dirt” !!!

  30. Write your congressmembers. My husband has worked for the FS as a summer range tech for 44 years. Each year there is less money for weed control, fence building and general range management due to most of their districts money going for fire control and suppression on other forests. Also most of the fees collected at campgrounds do not go to the FS, the bulk goes to the private management services. The FS is so strapped for funds that in the case of our local district which comprises 1000s of acres they can only afford to hire one law officer.

    • Lies. I am a full time boondocker. Rangers and cops are swarming Western forests harassing people on arrival taking plates invading privacy. They better get busy doing some real jobs!

  31. Wow! This is quite an inflammatory article and very disappointing to see. With huge budget cuts to an already underserved department followed by a large increase in demand and use, I don’t know how we could expect them to keep up. For the true nature and Park lovers out there, we should be helping instead of criticizing. Go volunteer for a park clean up or maintenance day, thank your forest rangers, clean up after yourself and others when out there. Happy camping to all.

    • Really? Like multiple women sitting in ranger stations doing nothing on taxpayers buck not even answering phones useless leeches! Theft of taxpayers money! Or rangers harassing campers all over the moment a person parks instead of doing real work! Fire them all!

  32. WOW! If RVTravel wanted to see how many subscribers read, this ‘article’ shows it. I find it is poorly written and lacking any backup, but as pointed out in comments, it is freedom of speech. I think one of the issues (and that the author missed) is this opinion that the parks and NF-CG’s are “owned” by the taxpayers and they complain about sites being closed. This is where they missed the concept. I own my car, but I still have to ‘pay’ to use it (gas, oil, tires, insurance, etc). As pointed our in comments, some sites are $10 a night and some free. Private campgrounds are $50-$100/night. So maybe it’s time the NF campgrounds charge a reasonable fee to camp, and by reasonable I mean like $30/night. These funds can be used to maintain sites, build new facilities, pay rangers and hosts, etc. It’s simple ‘Pay to play’. Time to move into the 21st century. Nothing is (or ever was) free.

    • Yes give the government more money so they will have more money to spend wastefully and still be where we are now or worse. Throw away your luxurious conveniences and enjoy what God has given us. Remember the saying that you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  33. How did a peevish “letter to the editor” become a front-page story? This isn’t just bad journalism, it’s not even journalism. RV Travel, you must be able to do better than this.

  34. Agree with other commenters that this article does belong on this site as it does not serve the wilderness or those who appreciate public lands. I don’t buy the argument that public lands belong individually or collectively to the general public. They are held in trust and preserved for all citizens. Generally, funding for public lands is woefully lacking and I commend the US Forest Service, state and national parks, nature preserves, and protected waterways for the good job they do even though they are woefully under financed.

  35. The unique design of our government was that we elect representatives and that the government serves the people. But that requires a people with actual engagement with what the government is doing. Not just voting in a junior high school style election. When people have actual investment in the government, it will be limited.
    But, you respective of the laws that are in place, that is not what we are. Most of the Constitution, which should govern all of the other laws which are made, has been decimated. Simply deliberately ignored by people in the government that couldn’t care less. Because they’re in it for themselves. Not to serve the people.
    Currently very many, if not the majority or even the vast majority, of government workers will tell you that they don’t work for you. And only half the people actually pay taxes. That is, have any sort of investment other than to vote for people who will grant them their wishes. And it has always been that only a few taxpayers actually engage.

  36. Garbage article. Does Scott ever read the news? Fires? Budget cuts and reduced staffing? Global warming and drought? Bark Beetles? Aging facilities? I have been an unpaid Forest Service volunteer for 6 years, doing a job that a full-time summer worker used to be paid to do- and I know many others, who clean campgrounds, staff fire lookouts and act as docents. The territory that used to have several full-time rangers and paid summer staff is now covered by 1 Ranger and volunteers. Why? No money- I’m guessing shifted to pay for wars. Yet Scott would be the first to cry about taxes for infrastructure, because ‘we can’t trust gubberment’.

  37. I mean, it’s national forest – you can camp wherever you want. You don’t need a campground. I can’t remember the last time i stayed in an actual campground. Why would you want to be packed in with 100 other people when you can go a mile up the road and be alone?

  38. I agree with several of the comments below. I don’t know when it became the Forest Services’ responsibility to provide or expand campgrounds. That goes for NPS at well. It is after all a national forest, not a national campground. We use all of the parks, as well as the state parks. At no point would i have thought to “demand” that they service my camping desires in lieu of them maintaining their respective park.

  39. The tone of this “article” cements in my mind the exact reason why I would never spend a cent on this organization. Right wing talking points drip from each paragraph. I can’t imagine a less “objective” treatment of this complicated issue. Shame on you.

  40. Perhaps there would be a bit more motivation, if the masses from the cities “left nothing but footprints”!
    As is, it’s an absolute nightmare when they invade the rural and backwood regions. The mass amount of damage and trash is overwhelming.
    I wish folks would get WOKE about their gross habits and develope a bit of respect for the natural habitats that they destroy..

  41. I wish this article had identified the issue, discussed the cause and effect of the issue, then investigated potential solutions to the unsatisfactory matters. As we all hate to hear the “insufficient funding” alibi, the truth is for several decades “enhancing recreation opportunities” has not been a budget priority for agencies with outdoor recreation responsibilities. A big step was taken with Great American Outdoors Act The Federal Agencies are not the “kick dog” in this matter. Beating up on the USFS does nothing to improve or change the status quo. A more effective and meaningful action is to engage your Congressional Representatives to let your priorities be known.

  42. THis article is 90% snarky whining, and clearly not up to the standards of RV Travel. If RVers want more open USFS campgrounds, then the only reasonable action is to pressure your legislators to allot more funding. Do the hard work, and cut the whining. And, please RVTravel, cut the path to this kind of annoying, unedited diatribe BEFORE it reaches your publication portal. Thx.

  43. Mr. Linden, sometimes places have to be closed to get repairs done. Snow & ice, or insect infestation. Always an abundance of complainers and a lack of volunteers. Sometimes sites are overused and need to be restored. Too much food dropped on the ground by campers and the furry critters moved in. Fires, drought, flooding, vandalism. Mr. Linden, go find a KOA.

  44. Been happening for years people from all administrations. The government reaps the benefits of the lands, then does nothing to meet the needs of the public. Now we just have a bunch of wonderlust tules who wanna enjoy it too and rightfully so it’s theirs. Overcrowding happens. The only budget that has been raised…the sign department…AREA CLOSED! Especially in the states of Colorado,California, Oregon, and Washington..Not too much closing in Idaho, Utah, and MT. See a theme?

    These areas have many steward’s that hunt, fish, and enjoy protecting what is rightfully theirs. If you want it to change write a letter to your representative or just make a viral video. Seems the second is the only way for change these days unfortunately.

  45. For years they have fancied up some campgrounds, while closing others more primitive to economize. I prefer more campgrounds with fewer facilities. I have assumed it is easier to get capital improvement funding than operational funding, as is often true with government projects.

    I have owned and used 10 RVs since 1970. It has gotten harder and harder to find and use all federal camp facilities. They are fewer and fancier. The temptation is to compete with privately owned camps which many of us do not patronize.

    The federal reservation system is great if you know April 1 where or whether you will be camping November 1. Otherwise, for serendipity lovers like myself, it is a nightmare of nearly empty campgrounds the computer says are full and whose sites therefore must remain unused. It drives the volunteer hosts nuts.

  46. Wow! I am appalled at the tone of this article! This crafting of incendiary words into something posted on RV is shocking! Who is approving of this article before it gets posted?

  47. Well, I agree with the article, possibly the author is just trying to inform those who don’t get it why we can’t get a campsite.
    Another point is the selling out of so many of our campgrounds to Thousand Trails and others that just take our $$$$$ and don’t maintain the campgrounds that are still open..

  48. For those interested to learn details about the NFS, first off let’s be aware the National Forest Service is part of the Department of Agriculture, not the Department of Interior (like the Bureau of Land Management). To check out the NFS budget trends and analysis, this link is helpful (especially the Budget Information document is informative):

    Happy Trails

  49. Disappointed in this article. It was less a investigative report and more a tirade against the Forest Service (Government). It’s an interesting and relevant question, one deserving of a better answer. This is just my opinion…Nothing more, nothing less.

  50. DING, DING, DING, DING! We have a WINNER. Politicians who have been bought and paid for by big business; Boardrooms forgetting that taking care of employees & customers SHOULD be top priorities; and a Tax Code that is virtually incomprehensible are ALL part of the BIG problem. Having been born in the early 1950’s, I can remember what Civic Responsibility was. Back then, anyone advocating what today is called “Political Correctness” would be run out of town. There was simply “correct” and you, your family and neighbors were pretty much in agreement as to what was correct. We NEED another Teddy Roosevelt to break up the trusts that have formed over the last 30 or so years. I doubt I’ll see that in my lifetime 🙁

  51. level some more dirt? dude, your part of the problem! our fiesta are shrinking, animals getting kicked from thier homes (which by the way, they own, not us) true nature lovers are sick of the uptick in campers and people. why? because the car majority can’t leave the land how they find it. they instead polite it, trash it and scar it! people need to learn to take care if the wilderness. and I hope you can maybe write a article based on that to actually educate people.

  52. There are more balanced, better sourced articles written on truck stop bathroom walls. This author must’ve been birthed from his mother’s rectum. Cope harder.

  53. It’s an opinion piece. You feel better now? Stop crying about the author. He’s complaining because there is a problem. And the problem didn’t just start 5 years ago. And he’s not talking to you wonderful workers on the ground working your tails off. It’s top down bureaucracy. Same as it’s always been and we are all sick of it.

  54. I stongly agree with those pointing out that this is a rant and not anything close to a news article as the lead in would indicate. Time for some serious review in Monday morning meeting this week. Seems far below this site’s normal standards.

  55. The FS has mismanaged the land over the last 3 decades , due to environmental restrictions on harvest, thinning and clean up on the forest, that allowed the overgrowth of too many trees per acre, enabling the bark beetle. Those restrictions caused more harm than good, and wasted billions.
    While spending much of their ever increasing budget on environmental studies and reports that do very little to actually reduce flamables.
    Many private lands , have been more effectively and economically managed and resisted the fires. ( areas around creek fire).
    Until economy sustainable thinning, harvest and cleanup is resumed, things will not get better.

    • Best response. Majority of these responses are liberal emotions. Who’s doing something about funding? This has been an issue for DECADES. trash and budget deficits are nothing new and didn’t just start in 2016. I’ve heard these same issues for decades. I’ve picked up soda cans from the 70s.

    • You should see the storm-downed rotting timber at Itasca State Park…Minnesota’s “Crown Jewel”. It’s horrible both in terms of unsightliness and waste…not to mention bug habitat and fuel for forest fires.

    • The solution to the problems you point out is in the statement itself. The mismanagement you state is caused by courts agreeing with conservation groups that sue the FS every time it tries to do something on the forest. All the EPA reports, lack of thinning and failures to establish a forest plan are caused by conservationists trying to slow changes with the goal of letting nature reign.

    • Garbage. Environmental policy is passed in Congress. You think NEPA and the Endangered Species Act (which halted clear cutting) was a Forest Service decision? You’re clueless on so many levels. BTW, you must not live out west because prescribed fires are lit every spring and late fall. And bark beetles attack trees that are stressed from high temperatures and lack of water. Gee… I wonder what could be causing that?

      • I live on the edge of the creek fire area and have witnessed the slow decay of the forest and forest service.
        Their environmentaly approved method of managing the forest is unsustainable economically and environmentally, as the recent fires have proven.
        Other private properties nearby were managed with the old fashioned method of thinning, harvest and cleanup and sustained very little damage during the fire and most likely saved the town of shaver lake.

        While the NPS has done cleanup fires for decades, it was a challenge with the air districts, it seems that only recently has the FS adopted that fairly effective process.

        But back to the main subject, as population increases, opportunities for sustainable camping should not be reduced, as it overburdens the areas remaining open.

    • I agree. The FS has been squeezed for decades and blaming them for not being able to keep up with the RV onslaught is ignorant at best.

  56. This article doesn’t belong in It is inflammatory and does nothing to solve the problems and challenges.

    I’m disappointed rvtravel printed it.

  57. This is not an ‘article’ nor is it ‘reporting’ it is an opinion piece and it is disappointing to see RV Travel tout it as legitimate reporting.

  58. Question… why does RV Travel print this type of garbage… oh yeah… free press… at least most see thru this hack job article. But can we please keep our political comments out of it. The forest service is no better or worse off than many many years ago. They have always had a huge maintenence backlog … what comes first? Fixing up what u have or expanding even more.

  59. This article is a joke. The author clearly has no idea how public land management works, how the fiscal budget works, or how hard federal civilian employees work to keep public lands safe and accessible for everyone. People like this are the reason Americans cant have nice things.

    • Right on. (Retired FS employee). I don’t see the FS needing to accommodate the RV surge. The CG’s and dispersed sites are overrun. A ‘camping’ experience anymore is worse than staying home and taking day hikes.

    • I am a retiree from both US Forest Service and National Park Service. People who work in land management are hard working, dedicated professionals who love their jobs even in the face of low budgets and the rare disgruntled complainers like the author of the poorly presented, poorly researched article above.

  60. “….on land we all own but can’t use. With a budget of $5.14 billion, they can’t find a few million to scrape off (and try to level) some more dirt?” You are really confusing me. We the people own the land so that it not sold off to private individuals and so we can preserve SOME natural areas in this nation. I’m really not so sure that we have the “right” to trample all through it. Isn’t much of it for plants and animals? AND THEN to scrape off some dirt in order to put more people and vehicles where they don’t belong? I like to drive thru and observe, but to park there and expect paved, electrical and water sites so I can just sit there and disturb the wonder of it all….? The article sort of left me feeling as if it is anti – National Parks. I must have misread something. I am still confused.

    • First educate yourself on the difference between a national park and a national forest. There is a huge difference national parks like Rocky Mountain National Park or Yellowstone National Park are not the places the author is discussing it is national Forrests which is supposed to be open land access for any and all to use. National parks emphasis on the word “Park” are highly regulated and should be. Camping in such parks is highly regulated and very limited and should be however there’s an enormous amount of available National Forest which is what the author is discussing. There is a very significant legal and tangible land use difference between a national park and a national forest. Look it up. For example one very significant difference is that hunting is permitted on National Forest lands. National Forest lands are more openly freely used… Hunting is not allowed at all ever inside a National Park in fact inside the park only self defense weapons are allowed and are HIGHLY REGULATED even hobby antler shed hunters are not EVER allowed to pick up seasonal antler sheds when they are simply found on the ground inside a national Park.

      • Ben, thanks for the clarification, sorry I misspoke in that regard. Even though Forest rather than Park, I guess I just feel differently as to how I think they should be used.

    • KellyR has hit the nail on the head! It sounds like the author of the original article only cares about adding more parking spaces to areas that are hard to keep pristine.

      That’s a shame. Personally, I hate the idea of over crowded National Parks. The campsites are already close enough together as they are. Right now we’re blessed to be able to watch the local wildlife wander through the area where we are set up. Reducing their habitat by cutting camping spots into it Is just sad.

  61. In her 2019 testimony, associate chief of the USFS Lenise Lago, explained that there was a backlog of deferred maintenance of $5.2 billion, and the 2018 budget for maintenance and infrastructure improvement was $449 million. With increased demand and competing priorities (wildfires and their mitigation) it is no wonder the USFS is closing public lands to recreation. Yes it is our land, but it is managed by the agency to “… meet the needs of present and future generations”. Rather than “bashing” the employees If you want to try to make a difference contact members of the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining. They approve the agency budget for inclusion in the overall budget process. The others to contact are the US Senators from your State and the Congressional Rep from your district. Contact them early and often as the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” (even it the budget process!

  62. I understand we need the parks opened, but what about the folks who protect these precious wildlands and I’m not referring to the Rangers?!
    I’m asking about our wildland firefighters!

    So, what about wildland fire services? What’s the government doing for them???
    They have been putting the screws to these fine men and women for years and don’t buy into that BS raise that Biden propagand-ized last season, because it was extremely minimal and did almost nothing to helpthe brave men and women who fight the nations wildfires every year!
    What’sthe cost of not have enough of these firefightersyou might ask??? Millions of $$$ in damages and hundreds of thousands of acres burned, the loss of animal and human life too! Those are the costs!!!!
    DC needs to get their acto together and hire more full-time wildland firefighters and pay them what they deserve!

    • Well you libs, right from the horses mouth. What do you have to reply to that! Remember, be constructive and on point. However, a splash of sarcasm is always a pleasant addition.

    • Hi Dad. I am a ranger and a wildland firefighter. We need forests to survive. Forests need fire to survive. That is how ground is fertilized, seeds are popped open, ground cover rejuvenated and exotic invasives destroyed. Yes. Some animals lose their lives. Just imagine how many would lose their lives if they had no habitat to begin with.
      Humans chose to build their homes in the forest. Well if that’s the risk you choose then prepare for it
      The reason the wildland fires today are so huge and hot is because, for so long, the mentality has been to stop the fire. Therefore, fuel builds up to the point where it is not controllable. So, hiring so many more fulltime firefighters to stop hundreds of thousands of acres from burning is why we are in this mess to begin with.
      If the forests do not burn, we will all die.

  63. What a hack piece of writing! USFS, NPS, BLM, and USFWS are trying to recover from Trump’s historic budget cuts! Trump only invested in BLM oil and energy program. And remember when he appointed DOI Secretary (and energy baron) Ryan Zinke? Well guess what. He quit in disgrace As he’s being investigated for fraud and false allegations and ethics violations.

  64. You forgot to mentioned, the Forrest Service is just making headway in getting out from a disastrous 4 years of incompetent administration that took funding away for 4 years! Also… we went through a pandemic, wildfires, flooding, etc. 😂😂😂😂

  65. Wow. Just wow. When things don’t go your way, let’s blame federal employees.

    My husband and I were both federal employees for over 30 years. We both had jobs eliminated because of government cuts, and had to take on other jobs–in my case, one I had no training or experience for. But we did it, and we were proud to serve the American people. I knew few who didn’t take work home; we were all overloaded, and at one point, a desk audit concluded I was doing the work of two and a half people. So let’s just stop blaming federal employees, can we? Park rangers make dirt (I had a friend whose husband worked for the Park Service, and they barely scraped by). If appropriations aren’t enough to manage (and clean up) the campsites they have, complain to your representatives and senators. They have the power to decide where the money goes. Make enough noise, and campgrounds might get a pittance more. But there’s no big campaign support from campers, so don’t expect much.

    • I’m so glad people are speaking up about this very biased piece. Thank you for the hard work that you do. I love our NFS Parks.

  66. Taxpayers have lost all belief in and respect for government entities. Because we have been lied to, so grossly, for so long. Budgets have been wasted, stolen, and siphoned off to cronies. Then Politicos cry for more taxes. I know there are good people trying their best within these agencies and I thank them. They and we have been betrayed by politicians and bureaucrats.

  67. Article neglects to mention that there is distributed camping allowed *throughout* National forests. That’s a lot of space, and many many campers use it!

  68. This article is garbage we shouldn’t expand campsites, you people need to stay home and stop ruining nature, we don’t NEED to bulldoze and level more dirt for your oversized new living quarters, so you can polute what little clean air we have left, they already leveled dirt to build your house so stay in it!!

  69. I am getting very frustrated with some of the articles that are being posted on this site. Since Chuck handed the the editorial responsibility to his daughter the articles seem to be taking a very much right wing tilt. If this continues I will stop reading and supporting this site. Just report RV news and leave politics out of your articles. Chuck always promoted civil conversation and to keep political junk out, that’s happening now.

    • I could not agree more. I have seen this in many articles and comments as of late and it is disappointing. I come here to learn about camping and RV’ing, not to get an opinion. There is already so much of that around on he web and I am desperately looking for a place where I can learn, but it is increasingly hard to find… :-/

    • I have to sadly agree with you. If content such as this article is the direction this site is going, I too will have to forgo it. I hope you’re listening Chuck! You are missed.

  70. What we are seeing is the result of the “race to the bottom”. This is what happens when republicans come into power and demand tax cuts. Tax cuts translate late into budget cuts. Budget cuts translate into dept. cuts. dept. cuts translate into cuts in maintenance and modernization. They want the budget to return to what it was in the 1950’s. Yet they want all the newest and shiniest technology. You don’t have to have an accounting degree to know that won’t work.
    You can’t run a household on a salary from the 1950’s. You also can’t run a country in the 21st century on a 1950’s budget.

  71. This is a garbage article written by someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. If I were I would be embarrassed to have writing of this quality my site.

  72. I worked for the US Forest Service for 38 years. I find this article has half-truths and outright lies. During my time I worked in most of the departments on a Forest including recreation. The recreation budget has gone down – that is a fact. There is no money for expansion of new or existing campgrounds. It is difficult to adequately maintain the existing infrastructure, much of which was built during the time we actually cut and sold timber.

    • There us no money for expanding campsites because of endemic union inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. They are doing to parks what Democrat unionization has done to public schools. Phoney Disability claims are devastating budgets.

  73. The author is a childish, whiny, self-centered narcissist.

    If he was an adult he’d ask for higher taxes and user fees to fund more campsites. But no – just crybaby wah wah wah.

    This article is total garbage.

  74. Currently we are visiting the south west and have visited several BLM lands. Some areas you need to pay a fee to camp and it comes with an area to dump, get fresh water and a small store. Some areas are long term for several months and others short term for 14 days. There are also some areas you can just pull off and stay awhile without fees as far as we can tell. These areas without fees are littered with trash of all kinds, some abandoned gutted old RV’s, old refrigerators, and piles of trash everywhere and I would not trust leaving my RV unattended due to fears it will be broken into. What would the author of this article do if it was their personal land? They state that since they pay taxes it is their land so they should understand that their are people that just don’t care. We as a nation are in deep trouble due to entitlement and disregard for others. To me it sounds like the author feels they are entitled.

      • Well said. There are better sites out there to get information. I hate this negativity that’s gripping all of North America, we’re lucky to have what we have. Forestry services are needed to protect the bit of land left from irresponsible people. It’s those few who are ruining it all for the rest of us. The Forestry service is there to protect the environment not you ! It’s a privilege for you to be there not a right! You just don’t get it. The article should be going after those who leave the garbage and destruction behind and think they can park anywhere with disregard for local fauna and creatures that live there, that’s what is ruining these camping areas, I totally get why they are closing them. These areas would become dumps without the Forestry services. I’m outa here.

        • I so agree. That article by so called reporter, Scott Linden was a waste of my few minutes spent reading it. Was that written just to irritate those of us who appreciate our wild lands and want to keep them that way?

  75. No comment in this article about wildfires closing forests is there? With Colorado’s two largest fires, Cameron Peak fire(208,000 acres) and East Troublesome fire (192,000 acres) both in 2020 btw, it’s no wonder they aren’t opening anything new and closing the ones that burned up! Oh and don’t forget, both fires? arson (bio-terrorism). They know it, but can’t release that information. So you’ll find them reported as “still under investigation” almost two years later.

  76. My two cents worth is that National Forests, COEs, and state parks have become a political football. This is especially true with state parks. What happens is a city, county or region can no longer afford to pay for a park, campground, beach/waterfront, etc, they ask the federal or state governments to declare “their park, etc.” a national or state facility. I know in NY State there is a ridiculous amount of “state parks”.

    On another front, my millionaire brother who lived in Las Vegas moved back East because he said the West (Left) coast was being overrun by immigrants and international tourists?

  77. As noted many times already, the comments are more thoughtful and show more perspective than the original piece by Mr Linden. The government and forest service are not in the business of ‘just scraping off some more dirt’. Preservation without adding campsites is already a big job, and one that they are doing reasonably considering budget constraints. If people want our parks to have more money, anyone can make donations. Simply ignoring realities, and taking the narrowest possible view of park management is just not helpful.

  78. Just an thought. I went on two hikes in Grand Staircase-Escalante, UT last week. One required a $6 permit, the other was free. On the permit hike people were respectful to the land. I didn’t see anyone misbehaving. On the free hike to an area with giant toadstool rock formations people let their millions of dogs go everywhere off lease and relieve themselves. They allowed their kids climb on top of the Toadstools. Doggie bags were strewn everywhere. People were taking rocks, etc. It seems as if you pay a fee, you behave better. Start charging a minimal fee for some of these free camping areas. Hopefully people will act better and there will be money for upkeep. I don’t foresee the government adding to the budgets anytime soon, so this might work

    • From the start the author did everything to inflame and deride with very little true journalism. It is articles like these that have led me to vow to never support this site again.

    • I totally agree! I have read articles, listened to Forest Service personnel; and the number 1 reason for closures is the lack of employees who want to clean up the messes left behind by the camping public…the owners of the land!! The mentality of the camping world has changed in today’s survival mode, which seems to be “it ain’t my job!” Everyday in Florida I see or read advertisements for US Forest Service personnel.

  79. The photo showing closures on the Tahoe NF was taken during Fire Season last year when there were multiple fires burning nearby, fire Crews were spread thin and the Forest was closed to keep people safe from fire. Has nothing to do with the issue in this piece, talk about inflammatory and misleading.

  80. Staff stretched thin with messes and not following rules like putting out their campfires. Campgrounds in high risk wildfire areas that can overtake RVrs, burning homes, campgrounds, animals and humans in their path – you scoff as if everything should be left to burn so long as people get campsites on demand.
    The USFS personnel I see want to do a good job but are overwhelmed in keeping campgrounds in shape and people safe.
    They have to put up with attitudes that government employees work for them…personally…(they don’t). Your obviously negative opinion of unions & government employees shows little respect for their side of things that would have gone a long way in this article
    A database of “bad campers” should be kept, like the ones landlords use to determine whether or not to rent to someone. Ban them, and more spots will open up.

  81. As a retired USFS employee in recreation on the Forest where these photos were taken, and as a journalism major, I can say there is a lot of misinformation and opinion in this article. Most FS employees are not unionized. The FS employees I worked with were all professional caring people who do “Care for the land and serve the people”. I cannot answer the question why they have closed some campgrounds, and neither does this “article”. Many NF campgrounds are operated by concessionaires and are overseen by the local FS offices. Forests in different regions have different priorities for their budgets. That money has been decreasing since the 90’s when timber harvesting began to decrease. FS, NPS and BLM all lack enough money to maintain what they have, much less fund new facilities. And with the increase in the size and scope of fires in the last decade there is even less money for recreation. We need to demand more funds from our elected officials.

  82. Clarification: the National Park Service and the US Forest Service are two different agencies so keep that in mind.
    Like lots of the posts, most issues come down to money. For the USFS, most of the budget has been consumed by fighting fires (reactive) over the past couple of decades. The money that could be saved by performing appropriate forest management/stewardship (proactive) would allow for better use of taxpayer funds and result in loss prevention of the natural resource called public lands. It’s like that old commercial, pay me now (oil change) or pay me later (engine rebuild).

    • Just saying do proactive wildfire work isn’t enough. There would need to be a budget bigger than fire suppression funding and a two plus decade timeline to catch up.
      You can’t say our town needs more fire resources let’s build a fire station with our money this year and not fight any house fires.
      Call your elected representatives, they control the budget. The infrastructure bill does have solid funding for local, state and federal agencies to do work on the most needed Western firesheds.

  83. Disappointing. Inflammatory, low-quality writing without any analysis. Would not pass freshman composition. I am embarrassed for your publication.

  84. Thank you Scott for writing this article. More thanks should be given by those replying and less whining about his findings and opinions.

    The article gave them something to read this morning and hopefully raised their blood pressures enough for them to do something constructive for the cause…like doing their own research and writing their Congressmen and women (intentional and aware for the PCers).

    Not one of the well read (sic) responders mentioned the additional 5.5 billion (that’s with a “b”) in funding the Forest Service received just this past November via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

    “So c’mon people now,
    smile on your Brother,
    everybody come together
    and love one another
    right now”

  85. Long time subscriber, supporter, camper and RV owner for over 40 years here. Please tell this writer you don’t need his services anymore. This “article” was little more than a political rant, and a break with your newsletter’s high quality standards.

    Il informed, non factual, more polemic and opinion than exploration of the tough issue of increasing demand by too often irresponsible, overworked and seasonal staff, spoiled and unruly campers, limited USFS budgets vs. serious infrastructure issues. This is an important issue, yes, but use writers that will give it the attention it deserves, not turn it into a soapbox, stereotype laden diatribe.

  86. This was not an article but a political diatribe.
    Funding for the parks, national and state, comes in taxes, user fees,and donations. Maybe it’s time to raise the entrance and fees of other amenities offered in national parks, such as camping, to those of private campgrounds. Some of the private managed campgrounds in national parks already are somewhat market based. This coming August I’m paying $83/night in Yellowstone and didn’t blink an eye since some of the rate supports the park. I’ve donated both time and money to public parks to help sustain them. Have you? It could be as simple as picking up litter for 2 hours a month with your family and then taking them for lunch or a nice ice cream snack when finished.
    Stop complaining and start helping!

  87. I’ve worked for both the U.S. Forest Service (Dept. of Agriculture) and the National Park Service (Dept. of Interior) and was never in a union or knew any coworkers who were.

  88. Scott said a lot to explain this close to the end .. Congress is the place that allocates money for the US Forest Service and all its maintenance and payroll associated with campgrounds. Since 2016 the USFS has seen the biggest budget cuts in its history as well as the worst leadership in history. Absolute know-nothings in charge of the Department of the Interior which resulted in all the problems you see.
    These problems only took a scribbled signature to create and will take years to unravel (if ever).

  89. Typical government response. Not enough funding. Don’t want additional work. Citizens are not customers. Unionized overpaid workers. Won’t get better anytime soon with current congress and President.

  90. We have so much freedom in this country, many people do not understand that with freedom comes responsibility. Not to impinge on others freedom. And to manage and preserve those freedoms by voting and being involved in what goes on in your city, county, state and country. Nothing is free. You want the freedom to dump your trash anywhere you please, pay for it to be picked up. You want a place to camp, donate to the national parks and state park systems so they can build and maintain one for you. In the end, it is we the people that bear the responsibility for everything that goes on in this country.

    • Donate to the NPS with volunteering projects. Give them money, when in the last year alone they printed an additional five trillion dollars, and none of it seemed to trickle down to the NFS. That makes absolutely no sense. That line of thinking, only perpetuates the lack of direction, these current government idiots in charge, who are driving the forest service bus. If you dont take time out, to decide what, and who needs to be put in place, you will never begin to solve the problem.

  91. This article is like a greasy napkin left in the woods – garbage.
    Who’s responsible for defunding federal departments? Who always rants about the professionals in government while claiming that “taxpayers” could do a better job? It’s not the fault of the USFS that thousands more inexperienced slobs are camping. We need more rangers to keep the slobs in line.
    You probably want to organize a “freedom” caravan of RVs to blockade the parks.
    This political propaganda would never have been published in the old newsletter. Scandal!
    The important part is “the greatest good,” not “the greatest number.”

  92. Here in the USFS Rocky Mtn. Region, every USFS campground we have used has had a cg host. That may be because staying all summer in a cg in the Rockies is a very desirable summer workplace for many RV work-campers from states with unbearable summer weather. In fact, many of these hosts work for private government contractors who now operate many of these cgs for profit, just the national park lodging facilities are operated by for-profit contractors. These campgrounds, therefore, are generally have clean campsites and restrooms, and in more cases each year, actual electric hookups and even flush toilets.

    Of course, all these amenities mean that USFS cgs in very popular tourist areas–Durango, Telluride, Aspen-Glenwood Springs, etc.–have nightly campsite fees that are not very much cheaper than some nearby private RV parks (excluding RV “resorts”!). But, RVers can’t have it both ways–clean and well-managed, but still only $10/night!

  93. Terrible assault on unionized government employees. Any employee would be loathed to accept more workload without the tools and ability to successfully handle this workload and not as the author just states:” unionized government employees are loath to accept”. Too bad the author doesn’t offer some constructive criticism. No government agency is perfect, but the Forest Service does an outstanding job with the tools available to it.

    • It’s always do more with less when it comes to federal service, gets mighty old quickly. Less people, less money and less time to accomplish the job. And all federal employees are lazy which is not true and mighty old. If US citizens could see the amount of forced training requirements, that have absolutely nothing to do with their job, on its employees most would shake their head in disbelief and see just how their tax paying dollars are wasted.

      • Doing more with less is, all while providing more and better service or product, is a mainstay of private enterprise. Companies must do it or perish.

        The difference between private enterprise and government is government doesn’t have that competition and therefore the mandatory survival focus on constant improvement with fewer resources.

        My brother spent 40 + years as a DNR parks employee in Minnesota. While he loved his work, he was constantly frustrated at the bureaucracy and waste in the system. The problem is lack of leadership, not the workers.

        And…the workers are FAR from overpaid!

  94. The only sentence in this article I can respectis this one: “The Forest Service should be managing it as their first chief Gifford Pinchot instructed, for “the greatest good for the greatest number in the long run.” ”

    Otherwise, this article is insulting to your readers, a one-sided anti-government rant that, if posted by a reader, I would have expected to be blocked by the admins.

    I have felt nothing but respect for the hard-working, underfunded park and forest service workers for years and I don’t expect that to change.

  95. If we could use a little of the money the government has spent on illegal immigrants alone we could have the greatest parks you could ever imagine .

    • And what is the financial impact of illegals? Most are living under the radar and not eligible for any federal programs. Those that work using fake documentation pay taxes on the earnings. This was not an article but a political diatribe and your comment is baseless.

      Funding for the parks, national and state, comes in taxes, user fees,and donations. Maybe it’s time to raise the entrance and fees of other amenities offered in national parks, such as camping, to those of private campgrounds. Some of the private managed campgrounds in national parks already are somewhat market based. This coming August I’m paying $83/night in Yellowstone and didn’t blink an eye since some of the rate supports the park. I’ve donated both time and money to public parks to help sustain them. Have you? It could be as simple as picking up litter for 2 hours a month with your family and then taking them for lunch or a nice ice cream snack when finished.

  96. I certainly can see several good reasons why FS campground availability in on the decline. They are facing several real issues as enumerated above and below in the comments. Anyone can clearly see there is a rush to the woods going on. But asking Congress to help in this era of massive spending isn’t going to work until Congress gets their fair share. Besides the reasons enumerated, I’d be curious to know how much was sold off at pennies on the dollar to mega billionaire donors and foreign countries. If they plan to sell property you first have to remove the public.

  97. What a terrible, unbalanced article! Yes, more needs to be done to accommodate campers, but campers’ increasing bad behavior is a major factor. Part of the Forest Service’s responsibility is to protect and preserve the resource.

  98. There are 2 important rules when camping 1. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and 2. Leave it BETTER than you found it. Unfortunately the pandemic has brought out all the worst of users, no wonder they don’t want to add more of this to our natural and protected lands. Thank you forest service for keeping the selfish and destructive {bleeped}’s away.

  99. This could have been written without the rant, very disappointed in RV travel

    Natural parks and all they have to offer take tax dallors, which were given away in the largest tax break ever in 2017.

    Can’t have it both ways.

      • Warren, refer to the facts. The tax reduction, resulted in a spurring of economic growth, which caused more spending, and actually increased the federal tax collections in the years following the tax reduction act of 2017. These are the facts, so your “spot on” reply doesnt make sense, based on the facts.

    • Economics 101 in order here; when you lower taxes, the hope is that it will spur economic growth. Now lets review what the 2017 tax reductikn act actually did, shall we.

      The taxpayer had more to spend on goods and services. As any student of the economy can see, and i might add, has been documented, personal income increased, GDP increased, TOTAL TAXES COLLECTED INCREASED. These are facts.

      If one chooses to dispute the facts, we are all welcoming your reply.

  100. As a volunteer for the US Forest Service at a campground that charges only $10 per site, I have to say the angry author has missed a lot. First, the FS is. Bureaucracy & this contributes to slower change than we might like, such as increasing prices for camping, but this is changing. Also those fires the author mentioned— when fires consume large acreage Campgounds may close because they are damaged and when staff are diverted to fight fires then they can’t maintain campgrounds. And several other readers posted about the people who treat the campgrounds like dumps…

  101. I’m joining the chorus of disappointment that this article is more of a rant than a journalistic piece. While closures are definitely disappointing, I’m sure there are some very valid contributing factors that need solutions that are hard to find. Staffing rangers and maintenance is likely more difficult now than ever before. Rather than a rant, digging into the details of the situation to provide better understanding of the challenges would have been so much more useful.

  102. USFS and other government agencies have been hamstrung for decades due to laughingly low funding and, as a result, really poor planning. It is not uncommon for simple projects to be delayed for many years. It can take up to 5 years just to get a project scheduled. At the same time, simple annual budgets are so small that things like picking up the trash and outhouse cleaning can not be done. As a result, campgrounds close. On the other hand, the camping public feels entitled to leave trash everywhere, destroy nearby trees for firewood and otherwise disrespect the environment.
    The solution is fund the FS and respect the land. I spent a few nights in a NFS dispersed campground pre Covid and the place had discarded furniture and garbage all over the place thanks to campers and a lack of enforcement.

  103. So, in your article you faulted everyone except the campers/users who have trashed and disrespected the forest service areas. You talked to a few bureaucrats and Union bashed!Our camper group Lance Owners Assoc. Has a member( who I have met and talked with in person) is Forest Service police officer. You better research the” real” problems the USFC is facing on top of funding!

  104. I have seen it first hand and I do agree with the USFS, if people can’t clean up after themselves then no camping will be allowed period. IMO, it seems to be getting harder for the minority of problem children to understand the simple concept of “if you pack it in then pack it out”, which in turn ruins it for the majority of adults.

    • It’s time a database of “bad campers” is kept, just like landlords use to determine whether or not to rent to someone, or like credit bureaus that aid in determining whether someone is credit-worthy. When ignorant campers can no longer find spots to crap up, all of us will be better off for it (not to mention more spots opening up and more time available to maintain campgrounds instead of playing mommy to the people who think it’s everyone else’s jobs to clean up after them.) Someone could make a lot of money establishing such a database and selling subscriptions to campgrounds.

    • So accurate. I live near the South Dakota Black Hill’s National Forest and have several NFS friends at various job levels. They are all underfunded for what is expected of them, usually in terms of equipment and manpower. We as users of our forest lands need to do a whole lot better job of cleaning up after ourselves and teaching/showing/leading others to do the same. I say THANKS to the NFS for what they now ARE able to do with what they’ve got.

  105. i did not enjoy reading this article! Instead of feeling encouraged to do anything about an issue I wonder why I read the whole article! I’m not sure what the author’s intent is. Should I talk to my Congressman? Should I protest decreasing campgrounds, if I were a protester? Should I write daily letters to someone in Washington DC about how my tax dollars are used? Everyone needs a soapbox now and then or has an axe to grind about something. Me too! Just my opinion Mr. Linden, but I think you used your soapbox as a springboard to incite anger rather than a bridge to find a better way.

      • garrett fricke – Rosy’s comments are right on – to your point, where are YOUR answers?? She asked intelligent questions of someone who claims to have gone to great efforts to research but offers no solutions. Your comment would have been more apt directed at the author of this grumpy article.

    • Write Washington, they have large shredders. Until Congress gets “credit” for maintenance and on-going costs, this will not change. Maybe if we put up signs saying “Congress person XXX” helped provide taxpayers funds to maintain this park, things will change. Key word is, “taxpayers.”

  106. Here in the Mark Twain area of the Ozarks we have many forest service camp grounds. Most have no camp host. If you wonder why the forest service is closing many go visit one on Monday morning before the the clean up crew gets there. Need I say any more?

    • Perhaps we should all post photos of the messes left behind at federal campgrounds (with dates and locations). Maybe the government should institute a “clean site” deposit … to be returned to campers only after their site has been inspected.

  107. I have been reading more articles on the “new” campers who are loud, disrespectful and argumentative at campsites who then leave that campsite littered with trash and damage.
    It costs far more to put the campsite back in order than the fees paid for the site. A recent article (with pictures) showed a campsite in New Mexico that required a dumpster and several park employees to clean up the piles of trash left. I believe that site was closed after that. Actually, I wondered why much of that “stuff” was brought to camp in the first place. This is a problem at multiple levels.

  108. In agreement with all who have commented. Scandal, NO! Title of this piece should be “IMHO”. Drink your coffee, get some rest, you sound tired.

  109. Scott—you write with anger. I have to agree with Leslie P……perhaps go to some FS campgrounds yourself, survey the sites and note the garbage, poop, destruction and then re-write your story. It should give a different slant to it, entirely.

  110. What I have seen is people leaving trash, human waste and actually fires left burning. No one around. The Forest Service areas I have been to, mostly in the west, are being destroyed. It’s depressing when you arrive to a beautiful place to have to spend 2 hours just trying to clean up after the last people. Maybe you should investigate yourself. Go see what’s left behind. Fire season is coming by the way.

  111. While this is truly awful and a great example of bureaucracy not at work I feel the single thing which would go the farthest in fixing the over crowding debacle would be a clamp down on the mess which is called “reserve america”

  112. This is an interesting issue. Although I don’t take my trailer to many USFS lands (only a couple nearby), I do love our National Parks.
    I’m pretty sure you answered for the entire premise of your piece when you quoted… “A high-ranking Forest Service official who asked to remain anonymous said, “Forests do not receive enough appropriations to operate and maintain their existing sites.”
    Maybe this is what the article should have explored. Why don’t they receive enough funding? Or why and how are they mis-managing the funding? Unless you’ve looked at their budget to see where the money is going it’s incredibly simplistic to assert… “With a budget of $5.14 billion, they can’t find a few million to scrape off (and try to level) some more dirt?” Also, how much of this is a congress issue vs. USFS? Congress not only appropriates but tells how the money will be spent. How are priorities set?
    This piece really comes off like you have an axe to grind instead of looking too deep into it.

    • These are excellent questions and seem to get to the “whys” of the initial concern. I appreciate the authors input, but would like for this to have been more clearly identified as an opinion piece.

    • Agreed… rv travel is full of ax grinding stories. Scandal? We use forest service and national park campsites and find they work well 90 % of the time. The bigger story should be how we can help find solutions instead of just rambling on about how terrible the US forest service is. Our experience has not been that bad despite more people using the outdoors. Inconsiderate campers leaving behind trash is the bigger issue we have seen first hand causing closures due to lack of staffing to clean up after inconsiderate people. And btw… forest service campgrounds have expanded in areas around Grand Canyon and other western states and most hosts we talk with have a very positive attitude toward trying to resolve over crowding and staff shortages issues.

      • The problem with people leaving trash and waste behind goes right to the “alleged” parents of these people. It’s all about parenting, people who listened to Dr Spock and became “friends” to their children instead of being parents and teaching them right from wrong. If you fit this description you need to reassess your role, you can be friends with them when they are grown, now you need to teach them how to be a responsible adult when they grow up.

        • While most of the posts on this article are attacking the writer for being negative, I think you have hit the nail on the head here Bob.
          I’m one of those who think that everything the government touches turns to poo, and our national parks are no different. Clearly, NP’s are not a priority but a pain in the butt for the gov.

    • I agree. This is just another “somebody ought to do something” article. It’s easier to identify an obvious problem than it is to offer a solution.


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