MEDFORD -- Oregon officials imposed a parking charge at a dozen wildlife areas two years ago, hoping to raise money for improvements and trail maintenance from “nonconsumptive users” -- mostly birdwatchers, hikers and anglers.
The result: A lot of people are parking a little farther away, outside the area where permits are required, such as along the shoulders of roads leading to the preserves, and then walking in.
That gets them out of parking charges of $7 a day or $22 for the year.
At the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area outside Corvallis, a couple of inspections showed about half of the cars bringing visitors had parked outside the permit area, said Keith Kohl, wildlife area program coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
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“There is a user group there that has a blog telling people where to park to avoid the fees,” he told the Medford Mail Tribune.
“We get telephone calls from people who buy the permits asking why other people parking their cars can get away with this,” he said.
Now the agency is proposing to tweak the rules by including vehicles parked by anyone entering the wildlife areas, including those parked on the shoulder of a road outside the marked parking spots.
The state Fish and Wildlife Commission will take up the proposal Friday in Salem. As drafted, the proposal would go into effect late next week if adopted.
The program was developed to find a way for nonhunting visitors to help fund the wildlife areas that were bought with taxes on guns and ammunition and run with money from hunting license fees.