• Photographed by Tom Holman

Camping season in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest is underway and the Forest Service reminds the public of operational changes and campground opening dates.

Concessionaire-operated campgrounds on the Forest are now managed by Scenic Canyons Recreational Services, Inc. (SCRS). Most concessionaire-operated campgrounds opened Friday with reduced services on a first-come, first-served basis until the official opening date for reservations next Friday.

For more information, contact SCRS at (435) 265-6746 or www.sceniccanyons.com.

Concessionaire-operated campgrounds that are open from May 17 to May 23 on a first-come, first-served basis include:

• Priest Lake Ranger District: Osprey and Outlet Bay campgrounds

• Sandpoint Ranger District: Sam Owen Campground

• Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District: Bumblebee, Devil’s Elbow, Mokins Bay and Beauty Creek.

Starting May 24, all the remaining concessionaire-operated campgrounds are scheduled to open. These campgrounds can be reserved at www.recreation.gov and, in addition to the campgrounds listed above, include:

• Priest Lake Ranger District: Beaver Creek, Reeder Bay and Luby Bay

• Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District: Bell Bay, Honeysuckle , Big Hank, and Berlin Flats.

Kit Price Campground is closed for hazard tree removal.

While several Forest Service-operated campgrounds are open now, most will open on May 24, in time for the Memorial Day Weekend. These campgrounds do not have a reservation system and include boat-in sites on the Priest Lake Ranger District and Lake Pend Oreille sites on the Sandpoint Ranger District, St. Joe Ranger District campgrounds along the St. Joe River Corridor and campgrounds on the Bonners Ferry Ranger District.

Many of these developed recreation sites have increased the fees since last season. These fees are used for daily maintenance and improvements at the sites in which they were collected. Keep a look out for "your fees at work" on future improvement projects.

Visitors are always encouraged to be aware of their surroundings when recreating in the forest, especially when selecting a campsite. Hazardous trees are not always apparent, and are especially hazardous when the wind is blowing.

For more information about recreating on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/ipnf/.

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