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Campers must pay in advance at state parks

Those making reservations for Oregon state parks campsites will start paying rental and booking fees up front before they get their sites.

The change is part of a strategy to reduce abuse of the old system by campers who over-book their stay and create monopolies on campsite reservations, particularly on popular weekends and holidays.

Instead of a first night's deposit to go with a $6 reservation fee collected in the past, Reservations Northwest began Saturday its new policy of collecting payment, when a reservation is made, for every night a campsite is rented, from one night to the 14-day maximum allowed.

Reservations Northwest is the private vendor hired to handle the department's program for reserving campsites, picnic areas and meeting halls in 37 parks.

The new requirement does not effect existing reservations made through April 30, unless changes are made.

Under the new policy, campers holding a reservation for more than five nights who later shorten a booking to fewer nights or days will be charged a fee equal to one night or day's rental, plus the usual $6 transaction fee, parks officials said.

The change, parks officials said, is to quell overbooking tactics that have given some customers unfair advantage over those who reserve sites for only the dates they intend to camp.

The change was made after state parks officials realized that only seven percent of campers who reserve sites for 14 days stay that entire time, according to Richard Walkoski, state parks' recreational program manager.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission adopted the change during its May meeting after holding public hearings on the proposed change in April.

North Umpqua River launch to close next week

GLIDE — The Lone Rock Boat Launch along the North Umpqua River will close next week and remain closed for about a month as improvements are made to the ramp and stairs there.

The federal Bureau of Land Management will close the launch Monday and keep it off limits to the public through Sept. 8.

The BLM said the improvements will provide enhanced safety to ramp-users there.

Public invited to vote in state parks photo contest

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is inviting members of the public to help judge its annual "Go Click!" photography contest.

Public judging began Wednesday and runs through next Wednesday for the third annual contest that will help illustrate the 2011 state parks calendar.

Interested people can access the photos through Flickr.com at www.flickr.com/photos/orstateparks/.

Citizen-judges can e-mail their top three choices to go.click@state.or.us.

Winners will be announced Aug. 26., and the winning entries will be displayed at the Oregon State Fair that runs Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 in Salem.

The Go Click! Contest asks Oregonians to submit their favorite photographs of experiences within any of the state's parks.

Wildlife crime-solver talks to hunters group tonight

The head of the national wildlife forensics laboratory in Ashland will be in Medford tonight to talk with local hunters about how the lab uses high-tech tactics to solve wildlife crimes.

Ken Goddard, who directs the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Forensics Laboratory, will be the featured speaker at the Rogue Valley Chapter meeting of the Oregon Hunters Association.

Goddard, who also writes wildlife-related mystery fiction books, will be the presenter at the chapter meeting at Bud & Mary's Esquire Room near the intersection of Central Avenue and Fifth Street in downtown Medford.

The chapter meeting begins with a 6 p.m. social hour, with dinner at 6:15 p.m. The dinner costs $10.

The meeting is open to the public.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.