Glen Canyon considers camping fee at Beehives Primitive Campground

ST. GEORGE — Determined to reduce damage to natural resources, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has proposed adding an overnight fee to the Beehives Primitive Campground at Ferry Swale, and is seeking public input on the plan. 

The proposed fee would charge campers $14 per night to camp in the primitive sites. 

Beehives Primitive Campground is located within Glen Canyon near Page, Arizona, not far from the Waheap South Entrance to the park. 

Park visitation has been on the rise and, in 2017, officials realized the area had become quite popular for hikers and dispersed campers. 

Read more: Glen Canyon surpasses Zion National Park in visitation, visitor spending

On the flip side, the increase in campground visitation caused an increase in people practicing social trailing, driving off-road and leaving behind human waste and garbage. 

In 2018, the park decided to put in six designated campsites, allowing a limited number of campers in the area at a time, which has successfully reduced the occurrence of dispersed camping.

Beehives Primitive Campground at Ferry Swale, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

“By establishing the six permitted camping sites, we did give a designated site for people to do primitive camping instead of spreading out to the rest of the area and increasing the geographic spread of the damage,” said park spokesperson Mary Plumb. 

If approved, the campground fee will be collected at a self-serve “iron ranger” where visitors would make their payments by placing cash or credit card information into an envelope. 

If the proposed fee is approved, park overseers would upgrade the primitive campground to include extra sites, a vault toilet and some interpretive waysides, or informational signs. 

The additional monies would also enable the park to raise the number of consecutive days a person can camp in the area, from three days (presently) to 14 days (proposed). Such an increase would be consistent with the rules applied to all other locations within the park. 

The National Park Service made the proposal through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which gives them the authority to collect recreation fees on federal recreational lands and waters. 

The dramatic bend in the Colorado River at the popular Horseshoe Bend in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, in Page, Ariz., Sept. 9, 2011 | Associated Press file photo by Ross D. Franklin, St. George News

Under FLREA, it is required that 20% of the fees collected go to an NPS fund to help pay for other parks that don’t charge fees. The other 80% of the fee earnings, however, would go towards general improvements within Glen Canyon. 

“That means 80% of fees collected remain here for expenditure,” Plumb said. “The 80% of the fees collected that we would retain, it would be used for improvements in our park.” 

The park is holding a public comment period through July 24, with the hopes of answering questions, addressing issues and gathering the public’s input on the issue. 

As of last week, the park had already received 15 comments and anticipates more in the days ahead.

Among their concerns, some public commenters consider it unfair to pay to camp in an area that lacks amenities such as fire rings, picnic tables, water and shaded areas. 

A public meeting will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Headquarters Building in Page, Arizona. Park management and staff will be present to discuss the proposed fee, as well as answer questions. 

Comments can be made online through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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