By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Planning on camping in one of Oregon’s state parks? They’re a big draw – some in the mountains, others on the coast, others in the high desert. If you’re an out-of-stater, be prepared to take extra cash. Lots of it! On August 10, the state kicked in a nonresident surcharge. It will definitely be a big OUCH to most wallets.
The surcharge amounts to almost a one-third increase in campsite fees. Throughout the state, the “average” cost for an RV site in a state park is $33 per night. But unless you’re from Oregon, you’ll pay $42 for that same spot. It matters not if you “drive up” hoping for an available spot, or pre-register using the state’s reservations system. The result is the same: Nonresidents are getting hit hard.
What’s behind this seemingly unfriendly approach? Well, we might have hit it on the head. Loosely translated, Oregon’s rationale is this: “If you ain’t from around here, don’t bother coming.” Looking to cut the influx of COVID-19, the state is “[encouraging] local recreation rather than travel between states.” If you still insist on visiting the Beaver State, then your additional revenues will help the parks with a budget shortfall. We’re not sure how whacking nonresidents a third more for their overnights will do much to alleviate an anticipated $22 million shortfall, but we did run some math.
If the average RVer stayed three nights at one of those $33 campsites and paid $42 instead, it could help. It would mean that 814,815 nonresident RVers would be needed to make up the shortfall. Not sure if you can get near to a million RVers to make the trip up to Oregon to help out but, hey, it’s a thought.
To be fair to Oregon, here’s a quote explaining their new setup:
“We love serving all people, no matter where they live,” said Lisa Sumption, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Director. “Even so, this temporary change is needed to remind people to stay as close to home as possible while enjoying the outdoors, and to provide much-needed support for the Oregon state park system, which faces a projected $22 million shortfall between now and June 2021.”
At present, the pants-kicking surcharge will stay in place until the end of the year. In a few months, Oregon’s wise men will look the situation over. They’ll decide if it stays, changes, or gets dumped in the trash bin. By the way, if you already had a reservation (made before August 10), you won’t be stuck with the new fee.