EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) says state forest campsites will be switching to a modernized registration system.

DCNR Secretary, Cindy Adams Dunn, and State Forester, Ellen Shultzabarger, announced Tuesday that state forest campsites will be updating their registration systems to a more user-friendly, modernized version on Thursday, November 3.

“We are looking to improve the state forest camping experience by moving to a more modern self-registration process like what we use for state park camping reservations. This will allow for a more convenient experience that provides real-time availability information to prospective campers looking to plan an outdoor excursion in our beautiful natural spaces,” explained Dunn.

Currently, camping reservations in state forests are made by going to a state forest district office and requesting a permit. The number of camping permits issued has doubled within the last five years, which created the need for electronic recording and reporting to help staff manage campsite conditions, perform maintenance, and send alerts for conditions such as road closures and flooding.

With the new reservation system, all roadside campsites, camping areas, and equestrian camping areas will be available to stay at. However, non-designated motorized camping will no longer be allowed.

“Pennsylvania’s vast state forest system provides unique camping opportunities in more remote and wild locations than state parks and the campsites are often distanced from other sites. As such, it is critical we better understand usage and conditions at these locations to improve the experience for campers. We are hopeful that the new reservation system simplifies the process for those looking to spend time in our expansive state forests.”

–Ellen Shultzabarger, Pennsylvania State Forester

There will be nightly fees of $10 for Pennsylvania residents and $15 for non-residents, with a $6.50 transaction fee to cover the costs of the operating systems. This new system will allow visitors to use credit cards for camping and other permits, such as fuelwood and ATVs. There will continue to be no fees for trailside, backpack camping, or water trail camping.

Revenue generated from all fees will be directed towards maintenance, improvement, and conservation of sites and associated recreation opportunities. Fees may be waived for volunteers during work projects.

Those interested in making reservations, viewing campsite information or locations, and photos may do so online

Designated campsites will also be made available through the Pennsylvania State Park and State Forest Reservation System, the ReserveAmerica Call Center from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday at 1-888-PA-PARKS (1-888-727-2757), or the ReserveAmerica Camping App.

Campers can also call the forest district office in which they wish to camp.

Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance up to 12:00 p.m. the day of arrival, depending on the campsite’s availability.

To learn more about state forests and the rules and regulations visit the DCNR’s website.