Lest anyone believe it is always quixotic to even try to influence the federal government, we cite the case of several Forest Service campgrounds near Baker City.
Although the lobbying effort in this case included some high-profile aid — a letter from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. — it started as a purely local effort.
And more importantly, it yielded results.
The story that led to the Forest Service awarding a five-year contract to a local company to manage two campground complexes dates back to December 2016. In that month the Forest Service awarded the contract to Aud & Di Campground Services, the Utah firm that had the previous five-year contract for that work.
But one of the other applicants — the Baker County Development Corporation, the nonprofit that owns the Anthony Lakes Ski Area — appealed the contract award. That’s when Wyden wrote his letter to the agency’s chief forester for the Pacific Northwest.
That official rescinded the decision and reopened the application process.
Given a second chance, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort LLC prevailed, and earlier this month it won the five-year contract, starting in 2018.
This was a gratifying result — but not only, or even mainly, because it shows that federal officials can be persuaded.
Rather, we’re pleased because it’s sensible to award the contract to Anthony Lakes. Moreover, it’s a decision that gives a boost to the local economy that’s modest in the short term but could be more substantial farther in the future.
John Wilson, president of the Baker County Development Corporation, said the five-year contract not only will allow the company to hire at least six full-time employees, but it will help bolster plans to expand its business model to a truly year-round operation. That’s exciting because it could yield tangible benefits for other businesses that also rely on visitors.
The logic of the decision is almost too obvious — the ski area is literally within sight of two of the three campgrounds that make up one of the two complexes in the Forest Service contract.
Although Anthony Lakes has not managed campgrounds, we’re confident that, having operated a chairlift, it’s up to the task of dealing with picnic tables and outhouses.