Wildlife and Parks proposes camping utility increases

10/19/2013 12:00 AM

10/18/2013 5:56 PM

Citing increases in their own utility rates, Kansas parks have taken a step toward raising rates that campers pay for utilities.

Linda Lanterman, state park director, made the request to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission Thursday. Commissioners will vote on the proposal at a Jan. 9 commission meeting in Winfield.

The department’s proposal would raise daily utility rates $1.50. Campsites with all utilities would be paying $12.50 daily if the request is approved. Such utility rates would be in addition to the base camping fee price of about $7 per day.

Lanterman also requested those using long-term camping areas pay an additional $30.50 per month, in addition to variable monthly camping rates. At some parks, that could raise the total monthly rate, with three utilities, to a total of $400.

Natalie Donges, owner of a private campground near El Dorado, encouraged the agency to raise the prices even more to make sure they cover their costs. Donges said campers spending $150 in fuel for their recreational vehicles wouldn’t mind the increase.

Also at the meeting:

•  Commissioners approved a change in the framework for how spring turkey hunting seasons are set. Beginning in 2015, the youth season will open April 1 and the archery season will open the Monday following the first weekend of April. The regular spring turkey season would then open the Wednesday following the second weekend of April.

Jim Pitman, Wildlife and Parks turkey biologist, said the new framework was requested to allow youth hunters a weekend to themselves. Currently, archery and youth seasons open and run at the same time, creating some crowding issues on public lands. Youth and archers can hunt through the regular season, which will end May 31. Pitman said four out of seven years the regular season will be one week shorter, depending on how the calendar days fall.

A clerical error prevented the commission from voting on a regulation that would reduce the fall turkey limit from four to one bird over much of Kansas. It will be voted on in January. Pitman hopes the decrease in the fall season harvest will lead to better hunting success in the spring.

•  Lloyd Fox, Wildlife and Parks big-game program coordinator, reported little hunting activity occurred during last week’s special two-day firearms deer season for antlerless whitetails. Fox based his view on talking to staff members, but noted some public areas had a fair amount of hunting pressure. The season was mandated by the state legislature in an attempt to reduce deer/vehicle collisions later in the fall.

“This will not have an impact on deer vehicle accidents next month,” said Fox. “That’s my opinion.”

Fox also predicted no major changes in deer season frameworks or limits for 2014 hunting seasons.

Donges, a member of a Quality Deer Management Association chapter in El Dorado, spoke in support for the pre-rut season. She said shooting does in October could free up more food for other deer later in the winter and reduce deer vehicle collisions during the whitetail rut of November.

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