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agesilaus

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Posted: 03/08/19 04:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Cougarnewbie wrote:

Privatizing anything rarely goes better for the consumer. Write to the Dept. of Interior and register a complaint.


Not always the case indeed some of these contractors take much better care of the facilities than the state or feds do. They temporarily 'own' the cg after all and we take much better care of our own property than we do of others. Check the 'failure of the commons' argument.


Look at the Coyote Blog for a look at the other side of the fence. He runs a lot of state and fed cg and has had some of his cg rated in the top ten for the state.

That being said obviously not all contractors are the same.


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bukhrn

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Posted: 03/10/19 11:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Yellowstone and YosemiteThere are more, including Trailer Village at Grand Canyon that immediately comes to mind.


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greydog

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Posted: 03/11/19 02:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have not seen these situations where contractors take better care than government employees. In my experience, Park Rangers have always been dedicated and professional. Private contractor employees are often not so invested.
I would guess the campground mentioned by the OP is the Long Pine Key campground in Everglades National park. I saw the same thing at that campground. 10% discount and a sullen, bitchy, person at the gate. We have camped at this campground for many years but will probably not return. I love National Parks and Nation Forest campgrounds. I am totally opposed to privatization of government facilities. GD

agesilaus

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Posted: 03/11/19 03:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Park Rangers are for the most part excellent, but I'm not talking about Rangers. I'm talking about facilities management and improvements. Something that your average Ranger you see in the parks has little to do with.

The Coyote blog author tells of one situation where he tried to improve a decrepit bathroom by installing new drain pipes. A quick job which would of had a good influence on the campground. The Park Rangers blocked it saying to run a pipe UNDER the road would require an Archaeological Study and a Ecological Impact Study. Both costing hundreds of thousands and taking months if not year. And they were not budgeted for, so the park continues to have backed up drains in the bathroom. If you ask me we'd be better off with that kind of thinking gone from the parks.

And another example of Park Ranger right think, during the government shutdown a few years ago Park Rangers ran people off for stopping along the road to look at Mt Rushmore, even tho the road was state property not the parks. And another bunch tried to close the parking lot at Washington's home in Virginia even tho they didn't own or operate that facility. The people running the place had to clear out traffic cones blocking the parking lot every morning.

And I'll leave it to you as a homework exercise to find out how they behaved at the National Mall.

avoidcrowds

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Posted: 03/14/19 12:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Park Rangers ran people off for stopping along the road to look at Mt Rushmore"

There are signs along the highway saying it is illegal to stop on the shoulder. It could be that the Park Service is contractually obligated to enforce the policy in that immediate area. It would make sense, since they are patrolling, instead of having State police keep sweeping the area.


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dewey02

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Posted: 03/15/19 09:44am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lots of mis-information in this thread.
Retired USFS Recreation manager of 3 million acres and about 35 different developed campgrounds, some under contract, some run by USFS.

The Senior Pass gets you a 50% discount at campgrounds run by USFS.
If the site is contracted to a concessionaire, a discount (of any %) is at the discretion of the concessionaire. Many do grant the 50% discount, some grant less, some grant none.

There are specifications in the contract that the concessionaire must do certain maintenance tasks as well as improvements. However, large infrastructure improvements are still the responsibility of the USFS. I've been retired for 10 years. Budgets were tight then, likely tighter now. During the economic downturn (when contracting "shovel-ready" projects was encouraged to generate jobs) we were able to replace all of our vault toilets with new ones. The old ones were built in the 1960's and some had cracked vaults and weren't ADA accessible. And yes, major construction projects that involve excavation require NEPA analysis. Places that are good locations to camp today (flat areas along lakes and streams, for example) were good places to camp a thousand years ago. So it is not unusual that there may be historic artifacts and remnants beneath the ground in those places.

There is no blanket answer to whether a campground is better run by USFS or concessionaires. Each situation is unique. I've had several excellent concessionaires that did far more for a campground than I could have ever done with my limited staff and especially if priorities were placed elsewhere by my supervisors. On the other hand, I've had some concessionaires that I've had to constantly fight with to do their job, and their permits do not get renewed. Unfortunately, some campgrounds don't generate enough revenue to be attractive to good concessionaires, so USFS ends up trying to make them run better.

I do agree that USFS rangers should have more presence in the campgrounds, both those run by USFS and by concessionaires. The public appreciates seeing and talking with rangers, and the rangers need to visit those campgrounds and WALK through (not just drive through) and have personal contact with the campers.

And a word about contracts: It is easy to say "write the contract so they can do this, or they can do that." But it doesn't work that way. There are very specific rules and limitations on what a local Forest can put in those contracts. And just as a matter of actual business (and any private run campground will tell you this), if you require a concessionaire to honor a 50% discount for seniors (which do make up quite a bit of campground traffic, especially in the shoulder seasons) you have just cut their gross income significantly. Therefore, you may not get any contractors to bid, or you will get those that do a less than great job. And again, often the USFS doesn't have the staff to just pick up the slack.

It is very easy to armchair quarterback any issue on the internet. But the reality of the situation is usually far more complex. (Now stepping off soapbox).

agesilaus

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Posted: 03/15/19 11:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Interesting to hear the voice of someone who actually knows about this situation. I'm sure there is a lot of complexity involved with these issues and anything having to do with the government will be covered with thousands of pages of rules and regulations. Plus politics always enters the situation.

maddog348

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Posted: 03/16/19 10:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dewey02 ~ Thanks





pnichols

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Posted: 03/16/19 10:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dewey02 wrote:

The Senior Pass gets you a 50% discount at campgrounds run by USFS.
If the site is contracted to a concessionaire, a discount (of any %) is at the discretion of the concessionaire. Many do grant the 50% discount, some grant less, some grant none. .... snip.


I have been aware of this travesty for quiet some time.

This "policy" is so blatantly off-center as to be absurd!! What in the world was the reasoning behind giving seniors a discount, anyway, when the USFS used to run the camping areas? I won't go into what the reason(s) were for establishing this outstanding benefit (I'm all for this discount).

The policy and the reasoning behind offering the discounts being a given ... why ON EARTH don't the concessnaire's contracts still require them to offer this for senior visitors who hold the passes? Do the original reasons for granting these senior pass discounts when visiting our public lands suddenly go away and not have to 100% apply whenever a concessionaire is running them?

Ridiculous ... on several levels.

* This post was edited 03/16/19 11:28pm by pnichols *


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dewey02

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Posted: 03/17/19 07:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The answers you seek are complex. You can examine them by searching the legislative history of FLREA (Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004).

This law was a refinement of the previous Fee Demo Program of 1996, and previous legislative laws and discussions dating back to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review of the early 1960's.

But the short (and honest) answer to your question is "Yes."
While you may think this situation is "ridiculous" it is what it is. You are free to write to your Congressman to change it.

I just made reservations at a COE campground for this summer. A 70 foot site adjacent to the reservoir with elect.and water hookup was $16 per night. With the Senior pass, I am paying $8 per night. In my opinion it is a huge bargain at either price. Yet, being completely honest with myself, I don't understand how either the agency, or any concessionaire would not be losing money on that facility at even the full price, and losing twice as much at the discount price. Not sure what it costs in elect. to run an RV air conditioner for 24 hours, but probably that alone eats up much of that $8 fee.

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