Some White Mountain National Forest trail heads and a picnic area subjected to a controversial user fee system will revert back to free use this summer.

One site in Maine – the trail head leading to the three-quarter-mile hike into Round Pond in Albany Township – will join the 10 sites becoming free in New Hampshire.

Alexis Jackson, a public affairs specialist with the White Mountain National Forest, said most of the sites affected are smaller, little-used trail heads.

The Round Pond trail head is an example. The trail head is used mostly by people heading to the pond to fish for its native and stocked brook trout. The pond is fairly close to Crocker Pond, which has a campground and is also popular among fishers.

Both ponds are on the eastern edge of the White Mountain National Forest.

Jackson said the U.S. Forest Service, which oversees national forests for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, decided to eliminate the $5 and $10 recreational fees it charged to people using certain trail heads and picnic areas. About 500 such sites are being made free, with 10 in New Hampshire as well as Round Pond in Maine.

The New Hampshire sites are trail heads at Townline Brook, Blueberry, Blueberry Mountain, Elbow Pond, Tunnel Brook North, Tunnel Brook Road South, Kinsman Notch, Ravine Road and Breezy Point, and the Long Pond picnic area.

Jackson said sites selected to be free are those offering few amenities. The Forest Service describes amenities as parking areas, tables, toilets, security checks, garbage collection and other services.

The Forest Service has acknowledged that the user fees, introduced on a trial basis in 1996 and renewed every other year, are unpopular but pay for security and comfort services.


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