Buffalo National River is seeking public comment and opinion on its proposal to increase fees at eight developed campgrounds. If approved, the new fee rates would become effective March 1, 2013. This would be the first campground fee increase to be enacted at Buffalo National River since 2003.
Superintendent Kevin Cheri explains that rising operational costs make this fee increase necessary. “Since the current fees were set in 2003, fuel costs have increased from around $2 a gallon to more than $3. The park employees who maintain and monitor the campgrounds all have to drive and it’s 135 miles from one end of the river to the other. Utility costs are another major factor. Buffalo Point Campground is our most popular campground and the only one that offers electrical hookups. Due to damage caused by flooding, the park had to completely replace both the water and electrical systems at Buffalo Point Campground in 2009. When we upgraded the electrical service from 30 to 50 amps, we saw a huge increase in electrical use. Now, visitors can pull in with their RVs and run air conditioners, microwaves, televisions, you name it. Since the upgrade in 2009, the electric bill has more than doubled. That money has to come from somewhere and we shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the camper’s electrical use.”
The proposed fees were developed after conducting an analysis of operational costs and a comparison of park camping fees versus private sector rates. “The comparability study indicated that our camping fees are significantly lower than many privately owned campgrounds within the area,” stated Commercial Services Manager Teri Gage. “We want to avoid creating unfair competition and the proposed fee increase will bring us back in line with the private sector.”
The eight campgrounds that would see fee increases are Buffalo Point, Carver, Erbie, Kyles Landing, Ozark, Rush, Steel Creek, and Tyler Bend. Daily rates for Buffalo Point sites with electrical hookup would increase from $17 to $25. Non-electrical sites with expanded amenities such as hot showers (Buffalo Point and Tyler Bend) would increase from $12 to $17. Basic sites at Carver, Erbie, Kyles Landing, Ozark, Rush, and Steel Creek would increase from $10 to $15. There will be no increase for group sites or pavilion rentals. In addition, the pavilion at Lost Valley will be removed from the fee program and made available for public use at no charge. There are also many free camping opportunities at Buffalo National River such as the gravel bars along the river and undeveloped areas such as Springcreek, South Maumee and Rush. Free camping is also permitted in the backcountry and wilderness areas. Unlike many other national parks, Buffalo National River does not charge an entrance fee.
Civic engagement is an important part of public policy development. The park will accept comments through January 25, 2013. Anyone wishing to comment on this proposed fee increase is encouraged to submit their comments to Buffalo National River: