CAMPGROUNDS: Forest Service seeks someone to run forest campgrounds

November 03, 2006 12:00 am

By JAYSON JACOBY

Want to run a campground?

How about six campgrounds?

Plus a couple of picnic areas and boat launches.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is looking for someone to operate two of its recreation complexes — one at Phillips Reservoir, the other at Anthony Lakes — for at least the next five years, starting in the spring of 2007.

Interested people can apply to oversee either, or both, of the complexes.

Forest officials will accept applications through Jan. 15, 2007.

Campground concessionaires pay a yearly fee to the Forest Service, but they get to keep most of the money they collect from visitors.

"People interested in operating the complexes and bidding on the concession permit are encouraged to read the prospectus, ask questions, and visit the facilities before snow sets in," said Mike Hall, recreation specialist for the Whitman Unit.

Forest officials have tentatively scheduled a field trip to both complexes on Nov. 9.

For more information about the field trip, or to get a copy of the prospectus, call Hall at 523-1294 or e-mail him at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Copies of the prospectus also are available online at www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/Prospectus/index.shtml.

Applicants must mail proposals — including five copies of all documents — to: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, P.O. Box 907, Baker City, OR 97814, Attention: Dan Ermovick.

The Phillips Reservoir complex, in Sumpter Valley about 17 miles southwest of Baker City, consists of three campgrounds — Union Creek, the largest and most popular on the Whitman Unit, and Southwest Shore and Millers Lane. The campgrounds, at an elevation of about 4,100 feet, usually are open from mid-May until mid-October.

The complex also includes the boat launch and picnic area at Union Creek, and a day use area at Southwest Shore.

The Anthony Lakes complex, in the Elkhorn Mountains about 34 miles northwest of Baker City, includes campgrounds at Anthony, Grande Ronde and Mud lakes, as well as boat launches at Anthony and Grande Ronde, and a picnic area at Anthony Lake.

The Anthony Lakes campgrounds, which are at an elevation of about 7,100 feet, usually remain closed, due to snow, until late June or early July. The campgrounds typically close around mid-September.

Forest Service workers have operated both the Phillips Reservoir and Anthony Lakes complexes the past two summers.

Recreation Resource Management, an Arizona company, managed the two complexes from 2000-04, but the firm declined, in the spring of 2005, to renew its contract for five more years.

Warren Meyer, the company's president, said in 2005 that the main reason he decided not to renew the deal was his concern that the spring that supplies water to Union Creek Campground would run dry.

For a week or so during the spring of 2005 that spring didn't produce enough water to keep Union Creek's faucets flowing and toilets flushing.

Although rains soon replenished the spring, Meyer decided not to risk the water supply petering out again.

Meyer, whose company operates Forest Service campgrounds in several states, including Oregon, said Thursday that he will review the Forest Service's prospectus for the Phillips Reservoir and Anthony Lakes complexes, but that he has not decided whether to submit an application.

Meyer said he was pleased to hear that Ken Anderson started work last spring as the Whitman Unit's ranger.

Meyer said he knows Anderson from Arizona, where Anderson worked for 15 years before moving to Baker City.

"He is a fabulous district ranger — you're lucky to have him," Meyer said. "I'm much more confident that they've got their infrastructure problems fixed" — the spring at Union Creek being one of those problems.

Although the campground operator collects money from visitors, the operator must pay a fee to the Forest Service each year.

According to the prospectus, that fee can be either an amount, known as the "minimum annual permit fee," which the agency sets based on how much money the operator collects from visitors, or a percentage of those gross receipts, whichever amount is greater.

The minimum annual permit fee for the Phillips Reservoir complex is $2,525, and for the Anthony Lakes complex $829.

Alternatively, the concessionaire can offer to pay the Forest Service a percentage of the gross receipts — a minimum of 6 percent of receipts for the Phillips Reservoir complex, and 5 percent for Anthony Lakes, according to the prospectus.

From 2003-05, according to the Forest Service, visitor receipts at the Phillips Reservoir complex totaled $153,987 — $59,126 in 2003; $53,293 in 2004; and $41,568 in 2005.

Revenue fell in 2005 in part because the Forest Service reduced fees, and because the agency, unlike Recreation Resource Management, didn't run a concession stand selling such things as soda, ice and firewood.

The corresponding figures for Anthony Lakes are a three-year total of $50,551: $20,004 in 2003; $18,210 in 2004; and $12,337 in 2005.

The prospectus lists several qualifications the Forest Service requires of concessionaires, including:

o Financial ability to serve the public.

o Business plan that outlines how concessionaire intends to run the campgrounds and other facilities.

o Experience in managing recreation sites