Packed Federal Rec Area Could Get Expanded

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August 29, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

National Park Service officials are taking public comments into September on an environmental assessment of a proposal released this month to expand the Oak Bottom Campground at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in Northern California, Redding's The Record Searchlight reported.

Whiskeytown officials are considering four options for enlarging the campground. The goal is to reduce the campground's density, as individual campsites are packed too close, officials said.

"This is something the public has wanted for a long time," said Sean Denniston, Whiskeytown's chief of interpretation and resource management. "We're excited to be able to offer an enhanced recreational experience, a better camping experience for the public."

The densely packed campsites can lead to conflict among campers.

Jim Milestone, Whiskeytown's superintendent, has said he's received letters from families vowing never to return to the campground because an unruly neighboring campsite made too much noise at night.

Rangers have said they respond to calls at the campground more than anywhere else in Whiskeytown. They make up to 70 arrests a year there, the assessment report states.

The expansion would not add more campsites to the existing 110 but would make the area larger, reducing campground density, Whiskeytown officials have said.

The options include:

  • Taking no action. The campground would stay as is, with 98 tent camping sites and 22 RV sites in the asphalt parking lot.
  • Expand to the west onto two undeveloped peninsulas. In this alternative there would be 92 to 95 campsites on the three peninsulas, 28 of which would be tent camping only. Up to nine would be RV campsites in the parking lot, 12 would be boat-in sites and 45 would accommodate RVs and tent camping. This plan would spread the campground to 49 acres.
  • Expand to the west and northeast. This would create up to 102 campsites — 33 tent-only sites, up to nine for RVs in the parking lot, 12 boat-in sites and 45 for RVs or tents. This plan would spread the campground to 53 acres.
  • Expand to the west and northeast and create boat-in only sites at several spots along the lake shore. The maximum number of campsites would remain at 110.

With the exception of the no-action alternative, each option includes plans for general improvements, including new restrooms and showers, a larger camp store, new entrances, improved walkways, relocating the amphitheater and other additions.

Whiskeytown officials prefer the last alternative because it has the least impact to the environment while still expanding the campground, according to the report.

The report comes after a meeting in September last year at which officials took comments from the public on alternatives to expand Oak Bottom.

"I think overall people were excited about what we were proposing," Milestone said.

The comment period is open through Sept. 16.

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