Campgrounds at Tuttle Creek, Goodale Creek, Horton Creek, Crowley Lake and the PV Pit are currently under review by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a possible rate increase. BLM Resource Management Specialist Becca Brooke delivered a report on campground costs at the Regional Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC) meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 28. She reported that over the last 2-3 years, BLM has spent $3.6 million dollars servicing these five campgrounds with new tables, lantern holders, toilets and fire rings.
The estimated annual cost of maintaining the campgrounds is about $208,757, she said, but the BLM only generates an average of $42,000 in revenue from the campgrounds. That’s enough to pay for hard goods, she said, but $165,000 in tax dollars must cover the remainder of the annual cost.
“BLM charges comparable rates for a comparable service,” Brooke said. “It’s important to have access to the campgrounds no matter your economic status. That’s why the fees are so low and reasonable.” However, she added, “Obviously in times when the budgets are getting crunched, our campgrounds are not funding themselves.” What’s more, the amount of campers went down in FY 2012 because of construction, further depleting campground revenue. But, she said, “looking at the 2013 stats so far, it looks to be going up.”
The BLM has not yet set a proposed fee increase, but is considering an increase, Brooke said. The BLM has held public meetings at Crowley Lake, Tuttle Creek and the Bishop Field Office regarding the increase in rates for individual camping spots.
“People understand that a large amount of money has been put into the campgrounds and a fee increase may be in order,” Brooke said.
Currently, the BLM limits a camper’s stay to 14 days, at $5 per night unless a camper buys a long-term permit, which works out to $2.50 a night. The RPAC agreed that an incremental increase to campground rates would be the best choice to cover costs.
Brooke added that the one campground where the BLM will not increase rates is the PV Pit. The cost there is $2 a night because the BLM is trying to keep campers off of the volcanic grounds so as to avoid damaging the vegetation around the campgrounds. The BLM feels that should they increase the price of camping spots at PV Pit, campers will venture out and camp wherever they like.
Brooke noted that even if the rates are increased at the other four campgrounds, BLM rates will still be cheaper than those established by the National Forest Service at Forest Service campgrounds in both Mono and Inyo counties. Rates at Forest Service campgrounds like Lake George, Coldwater, Convict Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Bishop Mountain Glen and Big Trees in Bishop all ranged between $19-$21 dollars a night.