R.I. resident irked by high Mass. camping rates

Kristine Barraco, who lives in Coventry, Rhode Island, was planning to spend some time on Cape Cod this summer camping at Nickerson State Park. 

But then she looked into what it would cost. While Massachusetts residents are charged $22 a night, people from out of state are charged $70 plus a $5-a-night surcharge. She thought the price differential was way too high. 

“Doesn’t Massachusetts want out-of-state budget travelers anymore?” she asked. 

Similar complaints surfaced last year when the higher fees were first implemented. The state Department of Conservation and Recreation canceled all camping reservations for the entire summer on June 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic. On July 1, the state began accepting a limited number of reservations for the season at the higher rates for out-of-state travelers. The new rates were supposed to be temporary, but it looks like they are sticking around. Officials at DCR could not be reached for comment immediately. 

The current daily rate for a campsite at the state’s coastal campgrounds, including Nickerson, Salisbury Beach, and Horseneck Beach in Westport, is $22 for residents and $70 for non-residents, plus the additional $5 surcharge for out-of-state residents at some campgrounds. The charge for a large yurt is $55 for residents and $140 for non-residents. 

At inland campgrounds, including Myles Standish State Forest in Plymouth and Wompatuck State Park in Hingham, the charge for a campsite is $17 for Massachusetts residents and $50 for non-state residents.

Most states charge non-residents more to use campgrounds, but Barraco says the Massachusetts charges are excessive. Rhode Island, for example, charges residents $18 and non-residents $36 for campsites. 

According to news reports, the last time camping fees increased in Massachusetts was in 2017, when the out-of-state charge at coastal campgrounds rose from $27 to $35. News stories from the time said fees for state residents increased, but didn’t say by how much. 

State officials at the time were quoted as saying the fee hikes had been authorized by the Patrick administration and implemented by the fee-averse Baker administration. Officials said the fee hikes were a way for the agency to cover more of its costs with fees from the public.



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