GOLD BEACH Camping at Boice Cope County Park next to Floras Lake will be limited to 19 spaces this year, and the Curry County Commissioners explained why Monday.
Citizen John Mathison, from Brookings, appealed to the commissioners to keep the new tent sites open and make fee increases more equitable.
If the inadequate septic system was the problem, said Mathison, he would prefer the commissioners shut down the showers and RV dump station, or even go back to outhouses, rather than cut camping spaces.
He said doubling the RV site fees to $16 was too steep, since state parks offer full hookups for the same price.
He suggested instead that RV sites be raised to $13 and day-use fees be increased from $2 to $3. He also suggested increased enforcement of day use fees.
Commissioner Lucie La Bont said there have never been more than 19 legal spaces at the north county park.
She said the previous commissioners doubled the number of spaces to raise revenue for the county, but didnt comply with Oregon land use laws or apply for state permits.
She said the septic problems and a lack of parking spaces, are not the main reasons for the cut in spaces.
We cant break Oregon laws, she said.
La Bont hoped the cut in camping spaces would be only temporary. I know its a hardship.
She said the commissioners have applied for a state grant to help fix the septic system and give it capacity for more than 19 spaces. They will also apply for the necessary conditional use permits for more sites.
As for the fee increases, said La Bont, the park must now pay for itself and not undercut private businesses.
She said the new Boice Cope fees are comparable with other parks on the coast, and that the state is considering charging $18 to $22 for sites with hookups.
The park is under the jurisdiction of Bing Barmore, who runs the Community Corrections Department under the sheriff.
She said day-use fees cant be altered because the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department allots funds to county parks based on the number of campsites, the population, and other factors. Raising day use fees could jeopardize those funds.
Commissioner Marlyn Schafer said the squeeze on campsites should last only a year. She said the commissioners would ultimately like to add some sites with full hookups.
In the meantime, said La Bont, it may be possible to equip the camp hosts with a phone so people can call and check on the availability of spaces.
Mathison said he understood the situation, but reminded the commissioners the park has become a vacation destination for windsurfers.
La Bont said the commissioners are working with state parks on that issue. She said the parks department may purchase the old Frankport site and may also improve Pistol River beaches for windsurfers.