Earning reservations at Oregon's state parks, including L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park in western Washington County, became a little easier after a change in direction initiated Jan. 14.
According to a release from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, the state is now accepting new reservations from one day to six months prior.
"A shorter reservation window helps us deal with the uncertainty posed by state management of the COVID-19 emergency and the financial hit of changing, canceling and refunding reservations," said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
The change, according to the release, began coming to fruition last summer as the reservation booking window expanded from one day to two weeks, then to 30 days, while the department slowly began reopening camping after a two-month closure.
Flagging revenue was another reason for the change in direction. State parks are funded by revenue from visitors as well as a share of Oregon Lottery proceeds and a portion of state recreational vehicle registrations.
"Although revenue stopped during the two-month closure and continues to be less than what we've earned in past years, we've adjusted our operations and now are comfortable extending the reservation booking window," Sumption said. "All of us extend a heartfelt thank you to our visitors as we continue to evaluate our operations to better serve campers and day-use visitors as we head into the spring and summer."
The process by which people can book reservations has undergone a change as well. All new campsite, yurt and cabin openings can be booked starting at 6 a.m. instead of midnight.
"No more staying up to midnight to make an online reservation," Sumption said. "If you try to reserve a site beyond the 30-day window at midnight Jan. 14, you will see the sites marked with an 'X' for unavailable. All available sites will be marked with an 'A' at 6 a.m. Jan. 14, and each day going forward."
More changes to the state park reservation system are anticipated as the year progresses and COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
To reserve a state park campsite, yurt or cabin, visit the Oregon State Parks website or call 1-800-452-5687 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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