Frank Zufall, staff reporter

Roughly 11 percent of the recreational facilities of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) will be closed or will offer reduced services in 2015 due to budget constraints, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forestry Service.

“This summer, the majority of our recreation sites will be open at full service levels; however, visitors will notice a reduction of services at a small portion of our recreation areas,” Paul Strong, forest supervisor, said. “This reduction is necessary to balance our budget given the increasing operational costs and decreasing number of visitors during the last few years.”

However, there will be no change to trail service at CNNF.

Recreational facilities closest to the Hayward/Cable area include:

• Drummond Ski Trailhead (near Drummond), reduced services with toilet building not open; no fees collected, no mowing.

• Lake Owen Day Use Area (near Drummond), with reduced services with one of two toilets open and reduced mowing. The beach will remain open but will not be raked. Fees will continue to be charged.

• Day Lake Campground (near Clam Lake), with reduced services at campground — Musky, Red Pine, Paper Birch and Jack Pine loops are open to camping, but the Blueberry and Heron loops are closed. The beach and boat landing will be open and public water supply is available.

Eleven of CNNF’s campgrounds are to be closed:

• Stockfarm Campground, near Butternut, Ashland County

• Lake Three Campground, near Mellen, Ashland County

• Mineral Lake Campground, near Mellen, Ashland County

• Horseshoe Lake Campground, near Washburn, Bayfield County

• Sevenmile Lake Campground, near Eagle River, Forest County

• Brule River Campground, near Alvin, Forest County

• Windsor Dam Campground, near Alvin, Forest County

• Laurel Lake Campground, near Three Lakes, Oneida County

• Smith Rapids Campground, near Fifield, Price County

• Kathryn Lake Campground, near Medford, Taylor County

• North Twin Campground, near Medford, Taylor County

Several other beaches, boat landings and picnic areas will either be closed or have services reduced.

Hilary Markin, public affairs officer for the Forest Service, said CNNF was forced to make the decision to impact 11 percent of the recreational areas because of lower fees generated by fewer campers/users of CNNF’s facilities.

CNNF is appropriated dollars from Congress, which have remained steady, but costs have risen while attendance and fees meant to sustain the recreational facilities have fallen, creating a budget shortfall of roughly $200,000, Markin said.

But will closing lead to even lower usage and less fees generated?

Markin said the targeted sites have historically seen little use and their closures or reduced services are not expected to be felt by most users.

“The Forest has continued to maintain service at normal levels despite financial challenges during the last several years, but this practice is no longer sustainable,” Strong said. “Visitors will find that the vast majority of our recreational sites are operating as normal, but a favorite site may have reduced services or be closed. We regret this change.”

State Sen. Tom Tiffany, Republican, 12th District, told the Vilas County News-Review in an April 22 article “Forest Service to close four campgrounds here,” that the state might be able to contribute via a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to keep the campgrounds and boat landings open.

Feedback welcomed

CNNF is welcoming feedback to “align Forest’s recreation programs and balancing operational cost and funding levels to our customer’s desires and expectations.”

Feedback questions to consider include:

• What are your favorite and least favorite recreation sites? Why?

• What are your least favorite recreation sites? Why?

• What facilities do you value most/least when visiting developed recreational sites? Why?

• What services do you value most/least when visiting developed recreational sites? Why?

• How could your overall recreation experience be enhanced within developed recreation sites?

Comments can be made at or by sending an email to

A list of closed or reduced service sites at CNNF is available at http://www.fs.usd