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CCPRD signs contract with Bureau of Reclamation to maintain, manage its facilities

DUANE GARNER - Parks district will retain Bureau's campground host and take care of the campgrounds.

Crook County Parks and Recreation District is close to taking over management of another campground, this time well beyond its district borders.

District leaders recently signed a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation to take over management of its campground space at Haystack Reservoir, a roughly 23-mile drive northwest of Prineville.

The process began about year and a half ago or so, Duane Garner, CCPRD's executive director recalls.

"Bureau of Reclamation came to us and was wondering if there is any interest on the district's part to be a managing partner of a Haystack Reservoir campground," he said, adding that BOR is responsible for one of those two campgrounds while the Forest Service oversees the other, larger one.

"It would be a partnership where we would manage the south shore group campground area," he continued, explaining that that area features three large group sites that support a total of about 75 campers. The district would also manage the west shore recreation area, which features 16 smaller campsites and a day-use fishing area, and the north shore fishing pier, which has no campgrounds.

Garner admits that district leaders were hesitant at first to accept the BOR offer.

"It is well out of our district," he said, adding that they didn't want to use local tax dollars to subsidize an operation.

But district leaders learned that they could manage the site while earning revenue that they could apply to other district needs.

"They are willing to be an active partner," Garner said. "They have been able to receive federal grants and do upgrades in the park. They just want us to do some basic maintenance. … We would take care of things and be able to keep all of the fee collection for the camping out there."

Garner noted that they would hire some more seasonal employees to focus exclusively on campground work, which would not only help with management of Haystack, but provide more manpower to care for Ochoco Lake Campground and the Crook County RV Park.

In addition, the parks district would enter the agreement with a park host on board. The BOR hired the host, and once the transaction is complete, CCPRD would assume management of that position.

"They are kind of the eyes and ears, and day-to-day individual," he said. "We are more support staff for the host and making sure everything goes well."

Parks leaders just recently signed a contract to make the transition official and once the BOR signs it — which Garner said could happen any day now – the district would take over active management of the sites.

The contract is for one year, a trial run to see how everything goes. Garner hopes that year of management will help district leaders determine if they want to continue expanding the different kinds of camping that CCPRD offers.

"We have done reasonably well with the Crook County RV Park as well as Ochoco Lake Campground," he said, "so we are looking at this as a potential way to subsidize the tax dollars and make them go further."

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