Changes would streamline reservations at state parks, cost more for some

The Oregon State Parks Department is mulling a series of changes to its campground reservation rules, some of which would streamline and improve the reservation process, while others would dip a little deeper into some campers' wallets.

Officials said the changes to the 19-year-old reservation system would improve customer service and take advantage of changes in technology that have come about since the program first went online.

Parks officials are taking written comments on the proposals through Aug. 28, and they plan to hold public meetings in Portland, Coos Bay, Eugene and Bend to gauge campers' views of the proposals, says Richard Walkoski, a state parks' communication and research specialist.

One of the biggest changes will be a drop in the lag time between reservations and campground visitation from two days to one, Walkoski says. If the changes are approved, then Oregonians who decide on a Thursday they want to camp that weekend can do so the next day instead of waiting the two days needed in the pre-Web world, he says.

"I think that will be a hit with people," Walkoski says.

Also, those who reserve yurts, cabins and other such facilities can get refunds if they cancel three days in advance, Walkoski says. They currently must cancel at least a month out to get the refund, he says.

Those using the Group Camping Program at state parks tent sites, however, won't get so lucky any more.

The current program is for groups reserving 10 campsites or more at a time, and they historically have seen their reservation fees waived on all but one of those sites, Walkoski says.

The new policy would set a minimum of 20 sites for the program, and no registration fees would be waived, he says.

The proposal comes after a department audit showed the agency waived about $75,000 in registration fees over a two-year period, he says.

View all the proposed rules changes at www.oregon.gov/oprd/RULES/Pages/Rulemaking Notices.aspx.

Email public comments to oprd.publiccomment@oregon.gov or mail them to OPRD, attention Public Comment, 725 Summer St. N.E., Suite C, Salem OR 97301.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

 

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