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County parks will offer 'daily rate special' to attract campers

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County parks will offer 'daily rate special' to attract campers
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County parks will offer half-price camping rates to off-season visitors next year.

The discounted rates will range from $11 to $16 a day for overnight camping, depending on the park.

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The "daily rate special" is designed to entice more people to stay at county parks before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

"Something needs to be done to encourage people," said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Madsen during a park board meeting Thursday.

The county's five parks that provide daily and seasonal camping are popular from Memorial Day through the Labor Day weekend.

But park managers said they want to increase revenue at the parks by extending the camping season to the full length of time the parks are open.

Under the plan approved by the board, discounted daily rates will be offered a week or two in May, starting the weekend of the fishing opener, and extending to eight days before Memorial Day.

In the fall, the special rate will start the day after Labor Day and run through Sept. 30.

A lower camping fee could bring people to county parks when they are less busy, which would "make better use of the parks," County Administrator Larry Kleindl said.

Even though the rates are lower and won't generate as much revenue as the full price, park managers said having people in the parks will mean they are also buying gas and food from the park stores. Park managers receive a large share of the revenues generated at the parks as their compensation.

The commissioners discussed implementing future changes to the arrangement they have with the park managers. Kleindl said the informal agreement in place now is working well, but because of liability issues, the county needs to update its process for working with park managers.

Kleindl said time will be needed to research legal issues involved with potential changes to contracts the county has with park managers. He said the revisions should be implemented by 2011.

County Attorney Boyd Beccue said the county "needs to get up to speed" with current laws.

In order to protect the parks from individuals who exhibit disruptive behavior, commissioners approved a new policy that spells out a procedure for park managers to follow, including banning someone from the parks, and provides due process for individuals who are banned.

The policy also includes a trespass notice form for park managers to fill out if a banned individual returns to any county park during the one-year period when the person is banned.

Kleindl said the county rarely bans individuals, but the policy will provide consistent standards.

The commissioners made several other changes that will affect county parks next year including:

? The rates for seasonal camping were increased about a dollar a day for 30- and 90-day continuous camping.

? The first day to make reservations for seasonal and daily camping was changed to the first Saturday after Jan. 1.

? Returning seasonal campers will have priority in making reservations until Feb. 1, when reservations will be opened up to new seasonal campers.

? Payments for seasonal campers must be made in full by March 1. Payments for non-seasonal campers must be made in full within 10 days of making a reservation.

? Recreational vehicles, campers or trailers will not be allowed to be stored on park property during off-season months at any of the county parks in 2010.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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