Hikers visiting Georgia's wildlife management areas must pay new fees starting next year.
The board of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources voted unanimously Wednesday to charge visitors $3.50 for a three-day pass to wildlife management areas and fishing grounds or $19 for an annual pass. That's the same fee that hunters and fishermen pay.
Groups of fewer than nine people will have to pay $10 for a three-day pass or $30 annually. The new fees take effect Jan. 1.
The department has previously only charged hunters and fishermen. Facing budget cuts, DNR officials said it was appropriate to charge recreational users such as hikers, birdwatchers and rock climbers since they also use state resources.