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Wild Wilderness believes that America's public recreation lands are a national treasure that must be financially supported by the American people and held in public ownership as a legacy for future generations
HOME BLOG Walton Lake Boondoogle
Written by Scott Silver
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
The Deschutes (DNF) and Ochoco National Forests of Central Oregon
are co-managed and share a common budget. Numerous recreation sites on
the DNF, including trailheads, boat ramps, campgrounds, picnic areas
and more require the payment of a fee as authorized by the Federal
Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA). These sites accept both the
Northwest Forest and the national America the Beautiful Passes. No
sites within the Ochoco NF accept either of these passes.
Walton Lake is a recreation site located on the Ochoco NF used by local
fishermen, day-trippers and campers. Though publicly owned, access to
this lake restricted to paying customers only. Walton Lake is managed
by a company that describes itself in these words:
" Thousand Trails is the largest private system of RV camping and outdoor preserves in America."
Walton Lake is one of 169 publicly-owned recreation sites that are now operated by Thousand Trails.
Whereas FLREA prohibits the US Forest Service from charging entry fees,
no such restriction is placed upon charging for facilities that have
been effectively privatized. Thousand Trails charges an "entry fee" at Walton Lake.
What's more, Walton Lake accepts neither the America the Beautiful or Northwest Forest Passes
It was recently reported
that the Deschutes NF is considering spending $612,000 to upgrade the
facilities at Walton Lake and is currently accepting public comment.
The annual budget for operation, maintenance and capital improvement
for all of the developed recreation sites on the Deschutes and Ochoco
National Forests is $149,828.
Stated in a slightly different way, the cost of improvements proposed
for Walton Lake, is more than four times the annual developed
recreation budget for entire forest management unit.
One might reasonably ask "why would the Forest Service spend so much
money improving a privatized facility -- a facility from which they
receive almost no revenue?" I will instead ask, "from where is the
Forest Service getting the money they propose spending on this
I believe the correct answer is, "from the sale of federally issued
recreation passes and access fees already paid by the public." My
specifically, I believe the correct answer is, "from the 93 million dollars
in recreation fee-demo money withheld from the forests where it was
collected from fee-paying visitors and only recently made available for
projects such as the one proposed at Walton Lake."
Perhaps one should now ask the question, "why would the Forest Service
want to spend so much of these recreation fee receipts to improve RV
camping opportunities at a privatized campground that isn't even part
of the federal recreation fee program?
Great question, don't you think?
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 February 2009 )
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