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Oregon State Parks will dump seasonal discounts in spring

This will be the last winter for outdoorsy bargain hunters to take advantage of camping fee discounts offered at all Oregon state parks annually between Oct. 1 and April 30.

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced this week that it will replace its across-the-board "discovery season" discount program with targeted deals starting in 2015. The discounts, which reduce tent and RV campsite costs by $4 per night, remain in effect through April 30, 2015. The annual discount was created nearly 20 years ago and is offered at all state park campgrounds.

Parking and camping fees provide $21 million of the $48 million a year it takes to operate state parks, the department said in a news release. A portion of RV licensing revenue and 7.5 percent of net lottery proceeds also support the parks, officials said.

A continuing decline in lottery revenue is part of the reason for eliminating the seasonal discount, Chris Havel, the parks and recreation department's associate director, said in the news release announcing the change.

Officials estimate that returning to a year-round rate structure with targeted discounts could translate into an additional $400,000 to $500,000 a year.

Havel said campers will begin to see a new type of discount in 2015 and beyond. No specifics were provided in this week's news release, but it indicated targeted discounts and rewards would be offered to give campers incentives to stay at places and times when park use is low, rather than broad discounts that apply to sites that would fill anyway.