Oregon state parks “temporarily” yank nonresidents’ welcome mat

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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.

##RVT961b

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Lyn
1 month ago

The increase in fees is not only because Oregon state parks desperately need to recoup revenue loss due to covid-19. The increase is also meant to deter out-of-state travelers from unwittingly bringing covid into the state. I live full-time in an RV park; most of the campers have been from California, where the outbreak is rampant. Why would you want to travel out-of-state right now and endanger other people’s lives?? Stay home, people! (BTW, the fee increase expires at the end of this year.)

Last edited 1 month ago by Lyn
Ray
1 month ago

I think the “Go Away” mat is uncalled for in this story. Washington State has had an e tra fee for nonresidents for several years in their state campgrounds. Oregon’s increase is temporary.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

I’ll be really surprised if it IS temporary. Like ‘temporary taxes’ . . . Maybe they’ll just hike up the cost of the campgrounds for everyone in the end.

Roger B
6 days ago
Reply to  Ray

We have traveled in other states that also have extra costs if your not from there. But not this high and not temporary. It will be interesting to see if the increases are in fact temporary.

Rob Mohr
1 month ago

I (non resident) just spent 5 weeks doing the Oregon coast via 101 towing a 20ft trailer. I stayed at all types of places, but no state parks. Many state parks were closed, and the one’s open had large signs advising they accept only guests with previous reservations, no drop-ins.

J Jeanes
1 month ago

While $9.00 won’t break the bank, I think that a 27 1/4% increase because you’re out of state is a little much. Its more the principal of it and I will stay out of Oregon.
By the way , you folks are welcome in SC.

TeeDee
1 month ago
Reply to  J Jeanes

yep, I use to live there. I moved out because they keep raising taxes. sneaking fees in or raising both. The Governor is awful

Scott
27 days ago
Reply to  TeeDee

Same story here. Now living in Arizona. We look forward to VISITING Oregon again, but the Leftist government there is beyond the pale…

Captn John
1 month ago

ALL CGs will be or should be increasing fees! Supply and demand. All weekend reservations should have a 3 or even 4 day minimum stay/charge. If the cost is too much I’d not suggest buying a boat.

Gary Smith
1 month ago

We live in Washington about 50 miles from the Oregon coast. We typically stay in Oregon state parks about 18 to 24 nights a year. With our retirement becoming complete next month we were planning to spend even more time there because the Oregon coast and its state parks are indeed awesome. Unfortunately the new price point is one that I am not comfortable with. There are lots of casinos and Boondockers Welcome places to stay while enjoying the beach so that’s where we’ll be spending our time until Oregon comes to its senses.

Last edited 1 month ago by Gary Smith
Scott
27 days ago
Reply to  Gary Smith

Exactly. When you tax a behavior, you get less of that behavior. In other words, this exorbitant tax will likely spook out of state travelers for years, despite the projected sunset of the additional fees. Thus, Oregon will pay the price for this overreach.

Roger B
6 days ago
Reply to  Scott

Bet they never considered the other money out of staters spend in their state for food, entertainment and fuel. That’s alot of tax money they are saying is not welcome.

Nikki Harnish
1 month ago

It’s a deal at twice the price. Oregon state parks are the best!

Tom
1 month ago

I wonder what the Oregon parks charge for college students that are from out of state?

Corrina Barlow
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom

The fee is the same for ALL out-of-State visitors.

Beth
1 month ago

I don’t have a problem paying the fee either, but if Oregon has such a shortfall, they should charge everyone extra, even Oregonians. Oregonians use their parks and it would help get the deficit reduced quickly.

Pursuits712
1 month ago

During an epidemic, there is no such thing as “visitor friendly.” For years, USFS et al have asked that firewood from other places not be brought in because of transfer of disease. Yet somehow people think that covid is okay to bring along with us. Look at the numbers in those southern states when the beaches opened up. You really think that is all due to local infection?

Luv2SkiCO
1 month ago
Reply to  Pursuits712

Yes, mostly. Research on these recent outbreaks shows that community spread was heavily weighted among asymptomatic young adults in the 18-35 demographic. Shutting down the bars (or severely restricting their night hours) has gone a long way to improve the social distancing and mask-wearing in this demographic.

As for beaches, the amount of UV, humidity, and warm temps on the beaches is highly toxic to Coronaviruses which mostly spread as suspended aerosols – aerosols that should rapidly dissipate in open air and ocean breezes. This has been demonstrated in government testing https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/04/23/lab-study-coronavirus-summer-weather/

Robert N. Cordy
1 month ago

I can understand charging out of state visitors more and it is done in many states. But it seems to me that a “visitor friendy” environment is good for everybody. As I see it, this slight visitor discouragement by Oregon State Parks will hurt Oregon businesses more than the visitor. Visitors are good customers (and sometimes the only customers) for gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, tourist shops, outfitters, boat and ATV rentals, golf courses and many, many more.

Norm
1 month ago

This is nothing new, back in 2000 (or there about) most states charged out of state fees. Therefore, all state parks nationwide had a cheat sheet on their clipboard….and told us, oh you’re from Oregon, they charge an extra $9 per night….and since you’re from Oregon….we’ll have to charge you an extra $9 to stay in our park. Turn about was call fair game. So if the state you lived in didn’t surcharge they would reciprocate and not charge you extra…..sounds very fair to me!

Traveler
1 month ago

$9 is a big ouch to your wallet?
Oh,my. $42 is pretty cheap by a great deal of the private campground prices I see.

Carol Forrest
27 days ago
Reply to  Traveler

We haven’t all retired with a huge pension like a lot of people.

Anne
1 month ago

I will have to pay more as a out of state person camping in Oregon and I am all for it. For years the parks there have been filled up with out of staters because of the low fees. Even with the increase it is a reasonable cost in my mind. It is either raise the rates or close the parks due to the tremendous financial shortfall. As a former Oregon resident I say keep the higher rates in effect if it helps save the state parks. The new rates are still a lot lower than many states with less services. I’ve thought they should do this for years even before the pandemic to give the residents an edge up on the out of staters.

Michae Butts
1 month ago

I don’t see this as a big deal. Michigan charges $9/day for non-residents to enter state parks and there aren’t any available spaces until November.

C.Lee
1 month ago

I fully understand the sentiment. I can see no reason for the law-abiding to even be in Washington, Oregon, or California anymore. Inexplicably, their governors have turned the states over to the lawless. We used to travel to California (My birth state) once or twice every year, but have no plans to do so for the foreseeable future. Arizona and Nevada are as far as we will go.

Steve C
1 month ago

I see nothing wrong with Oregon’s approach. It’s the same as charging more for out of state fishing and hunting licenses, which every state does. I suspect Oregon’s increase will become permanent.  Texas has wonderful State Parks, and should consider the same. Like most States, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department budget is always underfunded by our leaders. A few extra bucks is always nice. 

Ron T
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve C

In 2017 we paid an extra $5 at the Texas State Park at Lake Texoma because we were non-Texans.

Steven Sims
1 month ago

temporary change” my fanny. When has the government ever reduced a fee?

Gman
1 month ago

$42’s? Shoot, that’s nothing compared to SoCal’s $58+ and sometimes more($85+)/day “resident” charge, lol. Everything is and will be increasing, even after the vaccine is found. States and cities will always levy taxes for out of towners/visitors to rake in the bucks. Be safe people.

Vic
1 month ago

Seems like I remember stories in news media from a couple years back that if you wanted to raise price of park entry it meant you hated poor people. Now I guess it’s according to who it is that wants to raise price.