MT. VERNON - Oregon Parks and Recreation Department staff will recommend next week that its earlier proposal to increase the number of parks charging day-use fees be postponed indefinitely, the agency announced. The recommendation will be made Sept. 25 at a regular meeting of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission.
One of the state parks exempted from day-use fees is Clyde Holliday State Park located between John Day and Mt. Vernon.
Michael Carrier, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, said the recommendation to defer is based on "an improved financial outlook and the expressed public support for maintaining the existing fee system."
For two years, staff and commissioners of OPRD have examined expanding day-use fees. This study was driven by the wish to address the equity of charging day-use fees at some, but not all, parks and by the need to ensure long-term financial security for the department.
The present day-use fee system is not equitable because it does not spread the burden of day-use fees equally across the entire park system, Carrier said. "Therefore, there is justification for expanding the fee to additional parks. However, a business case for doing so, which existed when the study began, does not presently exist."
Carrier explained that recent actions by the Legislature have resulted in greater than expected financial security for OPRD in the next several years without the need to expand fees. He said the increase in recreational vehicle registration fees and anticipated additional Oregon Lottery revenues, "have significantly improved the department's financial picture."
Gov. Ted Kulongoski praised the public input phase of the department's review of its fee program.
"It gave OPRD an opportunity to educate visitors about how state parks are presently funded and allowed park patrons to express their views about how parks should be funded in the future," Kulongoski said.