Lacking $12,000, DNR closes 3 campgrounds

SKIP CARD; The News Tribune


Washington State - Three popular state-owned campgrounds that normally open each April have instead been sealed off by the Department of Natural Resources, which says it lacks $12,000 to clean and maintain them this year.

DNR crews Monday stacked piles of rotting tree stumps on roadways to keep campers out of Mima Falls, Middle Waddell and Margaret McKenny campgrounds in Capitol State Forest south of Olympia. The three are the latest in a series of DNR sites to be closed or have services cut back.

The Capitol State Forest campgrounds feature a total of 59 campsites and are used mostly by people who ride horses, bicycles and off-road vehicles on nearby trails. Each campground is full on sunny summer days, said Scott Robinson, DNR's district manager for public use and natural areas.

"I hate to shut these down," Robinson said. "There's a long history of families coming to these sites."

State officials blame the closures at Capitol State Forest and other areas on shrinking budgets and laws that forbid them from maintaining recreation sites using money from DNR timber sales. Most DNR recreation sites rely on money from the state's general fund.

The three Capitol State Forest campgrounds are "competing with health care and all that stuff," Robinson said. "Every time we put in a budget, it gets worse and worse."

Last year, the general fund portion of Central Region's recreation budget was cut from $25,000 to $5,000, he said. The lost $20,000 was roughly what it cost to collect trash and empty outhouses at the three sites in spring and summer.

Robinson estimated he could have kept the sites "minimally maintained" for as little as $12,000, but even that wasn't available. Frequent users offered to contribute to the sites' upkeep in January, but just $3,000 was pledged. Robinson considers the closures in Capitol State Forest temporary, and signs say the campgrounds will remain closed until more money is available.

Other DNR actions elsewhere in the state are more permanent.

DNR earlier closed three other campgrounds in Whatcom, Lewis and Spokane counties. The agency no longer manages five other DNR campgrounds in San Juan, Island and Thurston counties, and it has cut services at 24 other campgrounds and trailheads across the state.

The department also eliminated roughly 200 jobs over the past several years, DNR communications director Todd Myers said.

"You're now getting to the point that you simply don't have any more money left," Myers said.

Skip Card: 253-597-8655


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only. [Ref.]

Back to Current Edition Citizen Review Archive LINKS Search This Site