12 Oregon Parks May Be Rescued
Twelve popular campgrounds in northeast Oregon’s Wallowa-Whitman National Forest may be just weeks from rescue, according to Wallowa County Commissioner Mike Hayward.
The 12 camps in the Chesnimnus and Upper Imnaha area have been "adopted" by a trio of agencies determined to not only save the camps from closure but also dramatically improve them, Hayward said.
The key to the plan is nearly $70,000 in state funds from taxes on recreational vehicles, according to the Wallowa County Chieftain, Enterprise, Ore.
"Counties are eligible for recreational vehicle taxes for county campgrounds or long-term leased campgrounds," Hayward explained. "We're working on a deal to lease those 12 campgrounds from the Forest Service on a 20-year lease. It's not a done deal, yet. It will probably be a month before anything is finalized."
If the deal is indeed finalized, the third agency involved in the partnership will be the for-profit branch of Wallowa Resources, Community Solutions Inc., which will run the campsites as a business.
Plenty of other campgrounds are run by concessions, according to Rob Gump, recreation staff officer for the Wallowa Mountains office of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
"The forest service will still be spending operational money," Gump said. "We will still be engaged in day-to-day operations of the campground. And, we will still be able to get major funds for campground improvements and there will be state money available for major improvements as well."
State tax fund money will be managed by the county, which will work out an agreement with Community Solutions Inc. (CS Inc.) to pick up the hosting and some minor upkeep responsibilities at the campgrounds. Fees that CS Inc. collects will go into a fund that will be split between the Forest Service and CS Inc., an arrangement that both agencies welcome.