April 18, 2013

Park management still on the table

Park management still on the table

By 2015, federally managed parks like East Totten Trail and Downstream Campground could be managed by the state government instead of the Corps. But until then the Corps plans to keep the facilities open, despite federal budget cuts that are putting the squeeze on operations.
The Friends of Lake Sakakawea, a watchdog stakeholder organization that has been eying the possible closure or transfer of management, decided this past Friday to sit down at the table soon with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the State Parks and Rec. Department to help plan for the transfer of up to 35 federal rec. facilities.
Todd Lindquist, Riverdale property manager, said the state approached the Corps nearly two years ago about allowing the state to take over the Downstream Campground. The Corps responded: take them all, Lindquist said. The Corps manages or outgrants the management of parks to the state or concessionaires from Riverdale to Williston. Two of the biggest money makers are Downstream with 59,975 visitors and East Totten Trail with 60,756 visitors in 2012.
The Friends board was told in October that the Corps was feeling the squeeze from contractors, who are charging more for mowing, fee collection, garbage and improvements. Lindquist said costs are up 30 percent, although the Corps’ recreation budget continues to be cut.
In February, the Corps was contemplating closure of Downstream Campground and East Totten Trail because of federal belt tightening. By April, the Corps decided it would not close any recreation areas, but that a tighter federal budget is pushing it to continue options with the state, according to Lindquist.

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