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Archive for June, 2016

NC STATE PARKS QUIETLY RAISES PARK FEES & CUTS SENIOR DISCOUNTS BY 50%!

NC State Parks has quietly and confusingly raised rates and at the same time, cut senior citizen discounts by 50%.   This happened this week to Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Lead of Public Affairs, Frank Timberlake, who regularly books working trips to campgrounds around Kerr Lake, “The people at Reserve America said that they did not yet have new rates for North Carolina State Parks, which includes the seven state recreation areas at Kerr, but that they (Reserve America) were advised to begin new charges around the first of May.  I asked for a rate schedule and was refused several times.  They referred me to another person and eventually to a supervisor who could not explain very much.”

“The first thing I noticed is that they cut the senior citizen discount in half and that they upped my regular rate” continued Timberlake. “They couldn’t produce anything but they said I still had to pay a $3 per night fee for them booking the site, online or on the phone so Reserve America is still taking in the big bucks.  I had to sit on hold for 14 minutes for them to look up an old transaction and the new one I made today because Reserve America’s computers are slow according to two CSR’s and a supervisor. NC State Parks just operates in this vacuum and asks for zero input. Hell, the parks belong to us not them but one wouldn’t know it by their actions! And why should they go picking on older folks for more money?”

Conducting further research, Kerr Lake Park Watch found a short obscure notice on the NC State Park website that says the state is phasing in dynamic pricing which means a new supply and demand rate non-structure and that took effect on May 6th. The last time state parks raised rates was at the bottom of the recession in 2010, another very popular move with the public.

costs going up

North Carolina State Parks users which includes those who visit the seven State Recreation Areas at Kerr Lake pay some of the highest reservation fees in America.  Those fees, the $3 per night, means that if a camper stays at an NC State Park for two nights Reserve America charges that camper $6, but if the same camper reserves the same site for 14 nights, Reserve America charges and keeps $42, for the exact same transaction work.  It’s a one time transaction so why is it based on the number of nights?

Against the advice of other states like Virginia, NC State Parks began with the $3 charge because Reserve America supplied all the reservation software and systems.  Kerr Lake Park Watch wants to know why people have to hold long periods to make reservations and why such a steep transaction fee continues on.

Reaction to the rate hikes and senior citizen discount cut from Kerr Lake Park Watch members and campers has been direct.  KLPW Steering Committee Chair Larry Matthews said, “When our well managed park system pays $700,000 for a new bath house (Hibernia), they have to come up wih the bucks somewhere. And while we’re at it, how long does it take to hire “highly skilled and educated” park rangers. To my knowledge, we still don’t have a ranger at Hibernia. Last, check some of the RV forums. Other states use Reserve America and are no where near as pricey as our $3/night fee. Come on Raleigh!”

A camper who has grown up camping for years at Kerr Lake, Brook Cannady said, “It seems like what has been a good avenue for good family fun with reasonable rates is coming to an end . What was an economical family avenue seems to be changing but without more amenities to support the rate increases. Campers have many family camping options not priced much higher than these state campground with amenities such as pools , wifi, planned kid activities , horse shoe pits, entertainment, and with much cleaner shower facilities with actual ways to keep clothes dry in between changing area and showering space and the list can continue.  Maybe this increase will result in a decrease in park camping.”

“This is not the transparency and good state government customer service that Governor McCrory promised us.  State Parks just goes and makes changes without asking anyone anything.  It makes us think the only way to change this is at the polls,” said Timberlake.  “We will continue to raise questions and if necessary throw darts!  This is just wrong.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Campground Facilities and Improvements, KLPW - MAIN NEWS

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HERE’S HOPING THE ONLY BIG BANGS IN THE SATURDAY NIGHT SKY OVER KERR LAKE…ARE THE FIREWORKS!

Some bang, bangs and a band headline this year’s 4th of July celebration at Satterwhite Point State Recreation Area.  Sponsored by the Vance County Tourism Development Authority in cooperation with NC State Parks the event typically draws crowds on the land and on the water and this year will be held on this coming Saturday, July 2 from 6:30 – 10 PM.

Here’s a flyer link with more information in case you want to share!

2016 Fireworks flyer

Enjoy and remember the meaning associated with July 4th.

2016 Fireworks jpeg kerr lake

Posted in: KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, KLPW - Park Entertainment/Events

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS APPROVES & ENACTS QRR PLAN FOR KERR LAKE

Groups that support best use practices for Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River Basin are smiling this week as the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the approval of the QRR Plan that will allow more responsive actions for handling future huge weather and subsequent flood events.  Stakeholders, representing groups like the RRBA (Roanoke River Basin Association), Kerr Lake Park Watch, Vance County Tourism Development Authority and others, like the idea of Kerr Lake being kept at a more consistent level by the QRR or Quasi-Run-of-River Plan. And downstream, supporters want the water to come through at a faster pace and move on out quicker.

Kerr Lake Dam - Lower side USACE PIC

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo

With recent heavy weather/rain systems threatening this past Memorial Day’s recreational activities like camping in the parks around Kerr Lake, several groups pushed to have special action taken by the commanding colonel of the Corps, but such action is rare and it did not happen. From the viewpoint of Kerr Lake Park Watch and tourism supporters, when park users can’t get to or on a site due to high water, particularly around a holiday, that is difficult in a number of ways.

During the Memorial Day holiday such an occurrence happened when some campers were moved and others were sent home. Although most of the time there are an abundance of camping sites that number about 1,200 all the way around the lake, there is a critical shortage of electric and water sites which nearly all campers want nowadays.   Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake was one of those who had to be moved during the Memorial Day holiday, “We all were eagerly awaiting some intervention for larger water releases by Wilmington (Corps) or both the approval and adoption of the QRR and neither happened then. So I am personally watching the water creep to within 20 feet or so of my camper after I had already moved once.”

Switching gears from camper to parks promoter, Timberlake said of the Corps’ adoption of QRR, “This is monumental and one of the most positive flood operational changes that I’ve ever witnessed for the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir. We realize how many different and differently postured stakeholders are involved in the day-to-day operations of Kerr; there are flood managers, power companies, agricultural and forestry entities, fish and wildlife representatives and groups that specifically care about the parks around the lake and groups that are focused on the river(s). The Corps has listened. The Corps has responded. And many, many have won. Our joy is quieted a bit by the recent passing of Andrew Lester, the Executive Director of the RRBA who pushed diligently for this and other good things for the Roanoke River basin. I wish he could have seen it enacted.”

In a statement, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined the specifics of QRR or moving the water through the system at a more realistic amount and pace, “Previously during really wet times, like we experienced this past winter, long periods of 20,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) flood releases from Kerr and Roanoke Rapids Dams were possible,” said Wilmington District Water Management Chief, Tony Young. “Prolonged 20,000 CFS flood releases were causing harm to the lower Roanoke floodplain forest ecosystem due to long periods of standing water, as well as impacting timber operations and recreational access to the floodplain. Only when Kerr lake levels were extremely high could flood releases be further increased to 25,000 and eventually 35,000 CFS, but this did not occur very often.”

Young added that under the QRR plan, flood releases will more closely mimic the natural inflows coming into Kerr on a weekly basis and may be increased above 20,000 CFS on a more frequent basis-up to a maximum of 35,000 CFS for larger storm events. While these higher releases will inundate a larger portion of the floodplain, these higher releases will be made for a much shorter period of time, allowing the river downstream of Roanoke Rapids to return to normal much sooner. In addition, lake levels in Kerr may not get as high and will return to normal levels sooner, allowing Kerr to better handle the next flood event and reducing recreation impacts.

Timberlake added that wildlife downstream was featured in discussions but Kerr Lake wildlife factors in as well, “We saw firsthand Memorial Day weekend that when we lost campsites to water at 308 (feet above mean sea level – 300’ is normal full pool) we also saw a huge amount of displaced wildlife: deer in unexpected places, more raccoon, fox and snake sightings. But we’re all going to take a big step forward now with QRR as the water will be more manageable, so shall the shores and the parks on them, thus making Kerr Lake Park Watch a group of happy campers.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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