Lacking $12,000, DNR closes 3 campgrounds
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
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
"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.
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