Hey, you deadbeats! Did you know that nearly a third of the 3.5 million people who visited a Nevada state park last year didn’t pay? According to a new state audit, uncollected entrance fees translates into an estimated $1.2 million in lost revenue for the state.
The audit of the Division of State Parks estimated that hundreds of thousands of Nevada park-goers skip out on required day-use fees of the state’s 28 parks and suggested several ways to improve compliance, reported the Nevada Independent.
Auditors stressed the $1.2 million in lost revenue was a “conservative” estimate, and said they discounted possible trips from those with annual passes, the $2 Nevada resident discount, people visiting for free events and other vehicle traffic that wouldn’t require a day-use pass.
Auditors found that parks with manned entrances, such as Valley of Fire state park, had a better compliance rate than those with self-pay stations, where auditors said visitors through either “ignorance or willful intent” failed to pay required entrance fees.
Although nine parks had an “estimated compliance” of 90 percent or higher, the audit found several parks with a significantly small percentage of collected entrance fees compared to vehicle traffic, including Cave Rock park at Lake Tahoe, with an estimated 23 percent “compliance” percentage, losing out on more than $137,800 in expected revenue based on annual vehicle count.
Other parks with low compliance ratings included Echo Canyon (36 percent, $56,540 in uncollected fees), Fort Churchill (39 percent, $51,201 in uncollected fees) and Spring Valley (41 percent, $86,193 in uncollected fees). Fees collected from visitors to state parks have jumped significantly over the last decade, from $2.5 million in 2008 to $4.3 million in 2017.
The audit also found that of 22 surveyed parks, at least seven had experienced staff or volunteer theft of money placed in self-pay stations. Although the audit wasn’t able to determine the total amount of funds lost because of theft (noting that it was a “rare occurrence”), it nonetheless recommended that at least two employees be present during cash collection.
Electronic surveillance could solve most of this, but, it’s the government, and they’re in the hiring-people business.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which control most of the campgrounds in the Moab area have a very poor compliance record with their self-pay. As volunteer campground hosts, we found many people do not pay, but the camp host has no way of checking their compliance if they just put the pay stub from the pay envelope on the post, and pull it when they leave….there’s no record. This is very disheartening because the campgrounds could sure use the money to make improvements. The system could be changed easily, but it is a government agency, and that’s not going to happen any time soon. 🙁
We use our Nevada state parks A LOT. We buy the annual “geezer pass” for $30 and can then camp free. But, we watch people come in late and leave early almost on a daily basis. Plus, once the busy season is over, our favorite park (Washoe Lake SP) no longer mans the main gate and folks know that. The ranger doesn’t seem to much care about this, which is a shame. I didn’t realize the loss of collections amounted to this much! They need to put out a little more effort. All their seasonal hires have been cut loose now, so it’s even easier to skip out on paying.