by Brett Forrest
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — The public comment period for new fee increases and proposals at Red Rock Canyon and Calico Basin ends at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 22.
Outdoor groups and recreationists are claiming the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is ignoring vast public outcry against the measures.
Back in May, the BLM effectively approved instituting a $20 entrance fee as part of the Calico Basin Recreation Area Management Plan, which is currently free.
BLM is also looking to raise various Red Rock Canyon fees, including increases to daily car rates, annual passes and reservation fees, which are part of the public comment proposal ending Friday.
A spokesperson for BLM said it’s a proposed amendment to the 2018-2028 Red Rock Canyon Business Plan, which includes reservation fees and an increase to entry fees. A daily vehicle pass would jump from $15 to $20 while an annual pass would increase from $45 to $60.
According to a BLM press release, the fee increases and proposals are necessary due to crowd sizes and the need to fund projects such as hiring more park staff, building bathroom facilities, and widening entry lanes.
“If they put a fee system and reservation here, it will undoubtedly shift more people to other areas like First Creek, which is just up the road,” said Pete Foley, a behavioral scientist and frequent Calico Basin user.
Foley said places like First Creek aren’t equipped to handle the crowds that would likely migrate there if Calico Basin begins charging an entry fee.
He added the fees and reservation system create barriers for people to access and enjoy the outdoor offerings just outside the city.
“It’s going to stop people who might be experimenting with the outdoors or learning about the outdoors or be first-time hikers,” said Foley. “And I think it’s a tragedy to stop those people from having the opportunity to experience something like this.”
The Southern Nevada Climbing Coalition (SNCC) has been vocal against the fees as well, even going so far as to file appeals and threatening lawsuits.
“By and large, the public community spoke out very vocally against this plan,” said John Hegyes, a rock climber and member of SNCC. “And the BLM took numerous negative comments about their plan, and seemingly ignored them.”
Hegyes said climbers like himself fear BLM will eventually limit hours and close off entry to Calico Basin after implementing the entry fees. As a climber, especially in the summer heat, he fears they won’t be able to access Calico Basin during cooler temperature timeframes.
SNCC partnered with the Access Fund, a non-profit rock climbing advocacy group, to encourage people to speak out against the fee proposals.
Once public comment ends at 4:30 p.m. on July 22, the next step in the process is a presentation to the Mojave-Southern Great Basin Resource Advisory Council on Aug. 9.
Comments can be emailed to the BLM at [email protected].