Forest Service officials are urging people to make their camping plans early.

Not only will making a reservation early guarantee a better selection of campsites, those who call early will help keep phone lines open later in the season. Last year telephone access was frustrating, say officials.

This year, the National Forest Campground Reservation System has extended business hours and added more phone lines.

Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from March 1 to May 5, 1996.

After May 6, hours will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The reservation system lists approximately 600 campgrounds with more than 13,000 available campsites. More than 100 national forests across America have campgrounds the public may use for private camping.

In 1995, more than 111,000 reservations were made through the system.

Those interested in making a reservation need to be ready with the name of the campground and national forest, state, planned arrival date, length of stay, number of people in the party and type and size of recreational equipment they plan to bring.

Campers will be asked to prepay ($8.75 for a family site, $15.75 for a group site), either by credit card or personal check.

The reservation number is 1-800-280-CAMP (2267) or TTY/TDD at 1-800-879-4496.