|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Managing expectations at Howard Prairie

    As county takeover of popular outdoors resort progresses, some questions remain
  • Dustin Stafford jackhammers a chunk of concrete from the floor of the Howard Prairie Resort store in a move that is both literally and figuratively changing the face of the longtime fishing, boating and camping destination.
    • email print
  • Dustin Stafford jackhammers a chunk of concrete from the floor of the Howard Prairie Resort store in a move that is both literally and figuratively changing the face of the longtime fishing, boating and camping destination.
    Stafford's making room for water and drain lines for a new self-serve soda station, the first real change in the small lakeside store in decades.
    It's one sign of how the recent takeover of part of the resort by the Jackson County Parks Department will change things at this popular getaway on the Dead Indian Plateau.
    After decades of relying on independent concessionaires to run this hub of fishing and boating at Howard Prairie Lake east of Ashland, county parks will now operate the campground and marina, while contracting with the Mt. Ashland Association to operate the restaurant and store.
    The change, in theory, will allow Jackson County to use expected profits from the resort to cover smaller parks, such as the Takelma Park boat ramp on the Upper Rogue River, which can never pay their own way.
    It's an approach the county has been perfecting for four years, since park operations were jettisoned from the county general fund, which created fears that some of the county's 18 developed parks might end up being shuttered.
    "In the general-fund world, it didn't really matter who delivered the service, as long as it was delivered," says John Vial, director of Jackson County roads and parks. "Now, that's gone.
    "We want to focus on things that are profitable and things that we're good at, like running campgrounds, to keep our other parks operating," Vial says.
    Campers and anglers will get their first real look at the changes in store at Howard Prairie Resort on April 27, which signals the traditional start of Oregon's trout-fishing season.
    By then, county crews will have made about $15,000 worth of improvements to the store, restaurant and fish-cleaning station, and Community Justice crews will have trimmed trees and cleaned up downed limbs from the campground.
    Anglers who have grown used to mooring their boats in the same slip year after year might be surprised to be moved, because no list of those past agreements has been found. But Vial says visitors will experience more good than not so good.
    "Just because it's a change, don't expect it to be bad," Vial says. "Give us a chance. I think you'll be happy with what you see."
Reader Reaction
      • calendar