The Bureau of Land Management is proposing some significant changes at its Northwest Oregon park sites, including new fees, two new campgrounds and an annual access pass that could be earned with volunteer hours.
BLM officials released the proposal earlier this month, looking to raise day-use and camping fees across the board and implement new fees where none previously existed. In total, 16 day-use sites, campgrounds and group facilities would see new fees, with modified fees at two day-use sites and 13 campgrounds.
Amanda Moore, a recreation manager for the BLM in Northwest Oregon, said the project has been a long time coming. Many of the park sites in the region were built in the 1960s, she said, and they haven’t seen any fee increases in at least a decade.
“The intent of [the new fees] is to allow us to maintain the sites to protect public safety, and also to preserve the recreation opportunities there for future generations to enjoy,” she said.
Public comment on the proposal will be open through Jan. 20, after which the proposal will go through the bureaucratic process of approval. If the plan gets the green light, the BLM could implement some new fees immediately, Moore said, while others wouldn’t go into effect until later.
Under the proposal, day-use parking fees would increase from $3 to $5 per vehicle, with higher fees of $10 and $20 imposed on large vans and buses, respectively.
Camping fees would all increase as well, with costs varying by the type of campsite. On the lower end, primitive and basic campsites would be $15 and $20 per night, respectively, while full hook-up sites would cost $36. The price for cabins at the Fishermen’s Bend campground would increase from $40 to $65 per night.
Some camping fees could vary between campgrounds, including a sprawling new campground proposed at the Wildwood Recreation Site on Mount Hood, and a new campground at Pine Creek along the Molalla River Corridor. The new Wildwood campground would include cabins, yurts and hook-up sites for RVs, according to the BLM proposal, while the Pine Creek campground would have basic campsites.
The new developments would help the BLM match an already robust network of campgrounds in Oregon state parks, which boast some of the most popular camping options in the region, as well as camping offered by the U.S. Forest Service around the state.
Brian Amstupz, a local outdoor recreation planner for the BLM, said several of the agency’s campgrounds have proven to be quite popular, with occupancy rates rising in the last few years as crowds have continued to grow at outdoor recreation areas around Oregon.
“It’s clear that these are well known and highly popular campgrounds,” he said. “A lot of our sites are remote, and some of them are just kind of out of peoples’ backyards.”
Amstupz said the BLM is also trying to encourage some local stewardship with its new annual pass, which would apply to most of the agency’s day-use sites in Northwest Oregon. People could purchase a pass for $30 per year, or earn one with 12 hours of volunteer work.
“We’re hoping that’s going to invite members of the community to take ownership” of the park sites, Amstupz said.