Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Headlines - Region 4
Faced with litter, vandalism and growing campfire and off-road vehicle impacts at Newlan Creek Reservoir near White Sulphur Springs, state officials are asking for public comment on two proposals to collect camping fees there.
The popularity of the 265-acre reservoir has taxed the ability of Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials to keep up with the growing use and abuse of the surrounding land.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide a safe, clean and high quality recreational experience to all users,” says Roger Semler, Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional parks manager, “in a manner that minimizes resource and social impacts to the natural resources.”
FWP is currently seeking comments on two options: designating campsites and charging fees at the entire reservoir site or designating campsites and charging fees at a portion of the reservoir.
Camping at the reservoir now is free, though a 1997 agreement with the Newlan Creek Water District, which owns the land surrounding the reservoir, allows FWP the discretion to collect camping fees. The FWP commission also has given the department authority to collect camping fees.
Camping fees would be $7 a night with a valid Montana fishing license or $12 without a fishing license. Day use would continue at no charge.
During the last 10 years, FWP has invested more than $150,000 in maintenance and improvements at the reservoir, including concrete vault toilets, a boat dock, steel fire grates, picnic tables and grading and gravelling the roads and parking areas.
FWP has a part time employee assigned to routine maintenance at the site.
“The workload associated with the care, upkeep, maintenance of the site and exceeds the capacity of our staff,” Semler says. “We have problems with vandalism of signs and picnic tables, as well as litter, garbage, campfire impacts and abandoned property. Off-road vehicles are also causing problems with soil damage, erosion and the spread of weeds. The status quo is not working."
The public is encouraged to provide written comments on the proposals by Aug. 1 to: Gary Bertellotti, FWP, 4600 Giant Springs Road, Great Falls MT 59405.