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BRSF Castle Mound

Castle Mound Campground camping numbers from May to September 2016 were the highest in at least a decade.

Jackson County Chronicle file photo

Increased camping fees at Wisconsin state parks, forests and recreational areas are now in effect, and park admission and trail passes will go up at the beginning of next year.

Camping rates for the Wisconsin State Park System have increased between $3 and $6 per night for residents and between $6 and $9 for non-residents. The increase is based on demand, uniqueness, location and other factors, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“This new rate structure takes into account campsite demand at a property, uniqueness of the camping experience and geographic locations in determining the rate placement of the property,” said DNR Division of Lands administrator Sanjay Olson in a statement.

“The placement of the property within these rates will be reviewed on a regular basis and the rates can be changed.”

An additional fee for campsites that offer electricity is going up from $5 a night to $10.

It’s been about five years since rates have been increased, and the new rates were enacted as part of the 2015-17 biennial state budget.

Camping at the Black River State Forest’s Castle Mound Campground will go up $3 to $18 a night for state residents and up $5 to $23 for non-residents.

The state forest’s East Fork and Pigeon Creek campgrounds will increase $4 a night to $16 for residents and up $6 to $21 for non-residents.

The new fees went in effect the last week of July, and BRSF Superintendent Peter Bakken said it’s been camping as usual.

“So far we have not received any complaints,” he said. “Camping (this year) has been fantastic, and we’re already ahead of last year’s record pace.”

Bakken said he doesn’t foresee the increase affecting the number of campers at BRSF. He said camping largely depends upon the campground’s facilities and Mother Nature.

Castle Mound is scheduled by next summer to have a new shower and bathroom facility that will double the number of showers and put the building closer to the campsites.

“I think camping is heavily dependent upon whether you offer amenities and what you provide, and the weather has a big impact,” Bakken said.

Monroe County’s Mill Bluff State Park will see camping fees go up $4 to $16 for residents and $7 to $21 for non-residents.

Vernon County’s Wildcat Mountain State Park and Trempealeau County’s Perrot State Park will have a $6 increase to $18 per night for residents and a $9 increase to $23 for non-residents.

Nearby Juneau County’s Buckhorn State Park’s new camping fees will be $18 for residents and $23 for non-residents.

Any reservations for 2015 and 2016 dates that were made prior to the rate increase will be honored at the price that was in effect at the time, according to the DNR. Extensions or changes to an existing reservation will have the additional days charged at the new rate.

Increases to park admission fees and trail passes also were approved with the state budget but won’t begin until annual stickers and passes for 2016 go on sale in December, with an effective date starting the first of the new year.

Annual admission stickers will increase $3, going up to $28 for state residents, $38 for non-residents and $13 for resident seniors.

Annual trail passes will increase $5 to $25, and daily passes will go up $1 to $5.

The 32.5-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail will be among trails affected by the increase. Barb Bendel-Sandvigen, events and tourism coordinator for the Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has had people asking about the increase, but she doesn’t think it’ll have an impact on regular riders.

“It’s been a while since they raised the price,” she said. “I don’t know how it will affect those who get a daily pass, but if you have people who are regulars that are die-hard bike riders, that won’t matter.”


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