SOURCE: Recreation Resource Management

October 08, 2013 12:10 ET

US Forest Service Reverses Itself and Suddenly Closes Hundreds of Private Concession-Run Campgrounds

Despite Operating Without Any Federal Funds or Personnel, Privately-Operated Public Recreation Areas in Arizona Are Forced to Close During the Government Shutdown

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwired - Oct 8, 2013) - In an unprecedented order, and reversing a decision made early last week, the US Forest Service has ordered all private, concession-run recreation areas on Forest Service lands to close for the duration of the Federal government shutdown. This means that many of the most popular recreation areas and camping destinations in Arizona will close until further notice, despite the fact that these sites are not operated with Federal funds or employees. 

Private concession operators run hundreds of recreation areas within the National Forests, including the majority of the largest and most popular sites. These privately-run concessions typically are funded solely via the user fees paid at the gate, which go to paying for the employees, utilities, trash collection, maintenance, and even insurance on the site. These privately-operated parks do not require any federal funding, and in fact these concessions pay millions of dollars into the Treasury each year in the form of concession fees.

"We were certainly taken by surprise by this closure order," said Warren Meyer, CEO of Recreation Resource Management. "In all past government shutdowns, such as those in the mid-1990's, concession recreation operations have always remained open. This only makes sense, since our operations don't use any government funds or employees. While we do partner with the US Forest Service on certain activities, none of these are critical to day-to-day operations. We are convinced this closure is an unjustified and unnecessarily punitive action that hurts the recreating public while doing nothing to reduce government spending." 

Examples of concession run sites in Arizona include Houston Mesa and Christopher Creek, near Payson; Crescent Moon / Red Rock Crossing, West Fork / Call of the Canyon, Cave Springs, and Manzanita near Sedona; Lake Mary, Lockett Meadow, Pinegrove, and Bonito near Flagstaff; Demotte and Jacob Lake just north of the Grand Canyon; and Rose Canyon Lake and Spencer Canyon on Mt. Lemmon near Tucson. 

At this time, the closure orders appear to be aimed only at smaller, private operators. At least three Arizona State Parks that operate on USFS lands under very similar agreements apparently have not been asked to close. The closure order also appears to exempt large corporations that operate ski resorts on USFS land.

The Federal government has shut down its recreation information portal at Recreation.gov but Arizona residents can check the re-opening dates of many of the most popular recreation sites in Arizona at Recreation Resource Management's web site www.camprrm.com.

About Recreation Resource Management (RRM):

RRM, based in Phoenix, Arizona, specializes in the private operation of public parks for the USDA Forest Service, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Arizona and California State Parks, and a number of municipalities and utility districts. Web site: www.camprrm.com and www.parkprivatization.com.

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