Los Padres National Forest, viewed toward Reyes Peak.


Creative Commons

Los Padres National Forest, viewed toward Reyes Peak.

Day Use, Camping Fees Going Up

Private Management Company Taking Over Multiple Los Padres Destinations

Starting November 1, day-use and camping fees at several Los Padres National Forest destinations will increase as private concessionaire Parks Management Company begins its multiyear contract to oversee operation and maintenance of the federally owned recreational sites. “Fees will go up, but we are expecting the sites to be maintained better than we can do it,” said Forest Recreation Officer Jeff Benson. “Our recreation budgets have been cut by 50 percent in the last 10 years. Even with the Adventure Pass, we haven’t been able to keep up.”

The Forest Service launched the Adventure Pass program nearly 20 years ago, charging $5 for the day-use parking permit to help pay for site upkeep. The program met fierce opposition from those against paying for access to publicly owned lands. At the same time, the Forest Service contracted campground and picnic-area management to private concessionaires, such as Rocky Mountain Recreation Company, which has operated along Paradise Road in the Santa Barbara backcountry until now. Under Parks Management in the Santa Barbara district, the Adventure Pass will no longer be valid; day-use fees will double to $10.

For the past several years, there were six concessionaires doing business in Los Padres. This new agreement consolidates management solely with Parks Management, an established concessionaire based out of Templeton, in San Luis Obispo County. “This represents another level of cost for forest visitors,” said Alasdair Coyne of Keep the Sespe Wild. “In the Ojai district, sites for car camping that were once accessible with the [$5] Adventure Pass will now cost $20 per day. That’s a big jump. It’s becoming more expensive for the average person to visit the forest, and that’s a pity. Unfortunately, that’s the way things are going nationwide. There’s been more privatization of public lands.” Benson added that after two years, Parks Management can request another fee increase, but it would need Forest Service approval.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Evacuees Across Santa Barbara County Allowed Back Home This Evening

Mandatory evacuation order lifted for all burn areas.

New Scam Involves ‘Ground Stability Testing’

Fake 'land tech' tried to enter a home on the Westside.

Family Sues Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office For Wrongful Death

Five deputies shot Bryan Carreño 20 times.

County Race for Auditor-Controller Turns Ugly

An unexpected bloodbath erupts between Jen Christensen and Betsy Schaffer.

Gun Restraining Order Used 20 Times in Santa Barbara County

Only Los Angeles County used the order more frequently.