Campers may need to check their credit card balance before reserving camping space in Oregon Parks this year.
According to The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), a new ruling may require campers to pay all booking and rental fees at the time they reserve state park campsites and picnic areas. Campers currently pay only a $6 reservation fee and the first night's deposit on a campsite.
The rule change is designed to stop overbooking and last minute cancellations by some campers that make it difficult for other campers to plan ahead for family vacations.
Campsites can be reserved as much as nine months before use and many people are reserving sites for the maximum 14 days that you're allowed to rent the same site, according to OPRD Recreation Programs Manager Richard Walkoski.
"When their arrival date at the park gets closer, they cancel all but the final dates of the 14-day period that they intended to camp," he said.
As a result, many families are unable to find a campsite despite calling months in advance of their planned vacation, and then suddenly campsites become available as little as two days before the reservation holder's false arrival date.
"That's unfair to people who use the reservations systems as it is intended to be used, and it's costly to us," said Walkoski. "Some of those sites go unoccupied, costing parks potential revenue."
The selfish behavior is rampant. Walkoski says that only seven percent of the customers who reserve a site for 14 days stay the entire time. It is also a nationwide problem, Walkoski said, and most states have already adopted full payment policies to control the problem.