Just heard about a movement by private industry to "modernize and upgrade national forest recreation sites, particularly campgrounds and marinas." Full hookups, wifi, yurts, and the list goes on. Sounds good, but it means the campground or marina would be privatized, meaning handed over to a concessionaire, for upwards of 20 years. FYI: One of the suggested "improvements" is for "year-round storage."
Here is the presentation used in the initial meeting between American Recreation Coalition and the Forest Service: http://www.funoutdoors.com/files/USFS%20Recreation%20Strategy%20Final%20PDF.pdf
The Forest Service has had a follow-up meeting but haven't heard of any results.
My question - Does any one care if concessionaires take over recreating in our national forest? Your comments are appreciated.
* This post was
edited 07/28/12 09:42am by campersuzid *
This "movement" has been extant for years. Currently, more than half of the campgrounds – and 80 percent of all campsites in our national forests are managed by private concessionaires. We have worked for several of them and are currently doing so.
The question should really be do you want concessionaires to run forest service campgrounds or do you want those campgrounds to close. It is a budgetary issue and an operations issue for the forest service. The forest service has to hire additional staff to manage the campgrounds and we all know government employees do not come cheap. They get income from concessionaire contracts so managing the campgrounds themselves means they not only have the costs of management, but they lose the concession income as well, a double edged sword. If part of the concessionaire contracts include upgraded services, so be it. As a business owner somewhat in competition with the forest service, I don't necessarily like the fact that these changes will make them more directly competitive with me, but at least if they are concessionaire run there will be some fair market principles applied. At least if the concessionaires put in things like wifi, they will price to recoup their investment and put the financial costs onto the users, not the backs of all taxpayers as happens in non concession run parks. Some may not like it, but I think most of us will agree that even concessionaire run parks in the national forests and national parks are pretty dang good values.
One of the first things we notice in the concessionaire run parks is lack of services. Half the time, the washrooms are unclean, no paper, no sweeping, less motivated low-paid workers that bring rude personalities to the show.
Then, without adding services, the boat launch and other services that were once half/price with AB card are now full price, and the only thing still valid with the card is half/price campsite, and concessionaires are fighting that one too. This card is something we earned, not a gift, but the profit driven businesses are now taking over everything once run with tax money - that would be great, maybe, but the prices rise, services don't improve and the tax burden does not decrease proportionately.
There will never be a time when it's better to have a untrained and uncaring people running our wilderness areas. And, the final nail, we personally don't care if we have TV and WIFI at the national forest sites. That's not why we go, and it will not give us something we'll use but will raise the rates and dilute the natural experiences which motivate our camping.
I have serious doubts that many of the campgrounds in the national forests would attract any such improvements since they often have only a small handful of visitors on any given night. I know there are a FEW NFS campgrounds that are busy and some already have electric and water at the site (maybe some also have sewer but I've never seen it). the AVERAGE NFS campground is a driveway that SOMETIMES has a table but often only a fire grill.
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US Govt survey shows three out of four people make up 75% of the total population
Most National parks including state parks will fall by the wayside if the concessionaires don't take them over. I have been researching a state with many parks and all they pay is $7.67 hr. Most jobs in this country now are of the service industry type and only pay about minimum. Visitors seem to have lost respect and don't help clean-up the environment, expect workers to baby-sit their young-uns and are very rude if asked to follow rules and regulations. I have personally caught "people trashing the restrooms and other areas in Parks. JMHO! And yes I have reported them; and seen no repercussion come to the perpetrators; but the employee getting reprimanded; even though he had checked the area on an hourly schedule.