Forest Service Fees
by Phil Gantt
National Forests cover nearly 200 million acres of land in the U.S. About 11 million acres are in Arizona. Only six states, Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Oregon have more. Almost all of this land is open to the public free of charge. Some areas though, require fees or permits to help maintain and improve the amenities that we enjoy. Madera Canyon is one of those areas. Our fees pay for the provision and maintenance of parking areas, trails, picnic areas, potable water, restrooms and other facilities.
In our Canyon, Coronado Recreation Passes may be purchased by check or exact change at self service pay stations in any parking area. $5.00 pays for a one day pass, valid from 6AM to 10 PM. A one week pass costs $10.00 but is not valid for overnight parking. If you will be making several trips to the Canyon during a week however, it is a bargain. Annual passes are $20.00 and cover all four Recreation Areas in the Coronado National Forest. These are Madera Canyon, Sabino Canyon, South Fork – Cave Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains and Mount Lemmon. (Some areas at Mount Lemmon do not require passes.) Annual Passes may also be purchased at the Santa Rita Lodge and at this website.
Another type of recreation pass is an extreme bargain for many Green Valley residents. The “America The Beautiful” passes replaced the “Golden” series of passes a couple years ago. Called “Interagency Passes”, they cover entrance fees at sites managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation.
The Annual Pass costs $80 and is good for one year from the date of purchase. The Senior Pass replaces the older Golden Age Pass which is still valid. It is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are 62 or older. It costs $10.00 and is valid for the lifetime of the pass owner. Just two visits to Madera Canyon justifies the cost and, if you take a drive up to, say, the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, you won’t have to pay the $25.00 entrance fees. Now, this is a real bargain!
The Access Pass, a free lifetime pass, is available to those who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. It also provides access to the Recreation Areas managed by the five Federal Agencies.
The Interagency America the Beautiful Annual Pass can be purchased via telephone, internet, or at a participating Federal Recreation Site. The Senior and Access passes must be obtained in person at a Federal Recreation Site due to documentation and identification requirements. The site closest to Green Valley is the Tumacacori National Historical Park.
For more details on the Coronado National Forest passes, go online to: www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/forest/passes/fees/fees.shtml and for details on Interagency Passes, visit: http://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html.