LAW MATTERS, by Richard Jirus
September 2014: Australia: Tourism authorities are working with city councils on the North Coast to develop a consistent strategy dealing with free overnight parking and free dump sites that threaten RV businesses. Increased RV travel does increase tourist spending but the free parking anddumping hurts RV camping business. The city of Ballard and CMCA, (Campground and Motorhome Club of Australia,) have been working together to make the city of Ballard more RV friendly and develop RV businesses.
Canada: The Lapointe RV Centre in Springfield, Manitoba has closed its doors and is now in receivership. RV owners who use this facility to store their RV’s are being notified to remove their units. The Canadian Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association and the Canadian Camping and RV council are lobbying the Parliament to address critical infrastructures in Canada’s Provincial Parks. Among items they have identified are: advertise camping opportunities, equate campsite fees with those fees of independently owned campgrounds, sizing sites to accommodate larger RV’s and providing electrical outlets more compatible with larger units.
United States: U.S. District Court Judge Terry Hatter has sided with hikers in a southern California National Forest dispute and said they do not need a regional pass if they do not use any of the facilities the National Forest provides. “The Forest Service is prohibited from charging a fee solely for parking.” Congress has authorized a bill to continue funding the Highway Trust Fund. The plan, approved, as congress was leaving town for their August break, would continue funding through May of 2015.Providing WiFi hot spots is an issue moving forward in National Parks according to a statement from John Jarvis, the NPS supervisor. Canada has already stated that WiFi is being installed in more than a dozen remote Provisional Parks.
A scam process has been uncovered in Missouri that is based in Nigeria. People are lured into making payments on RV’s that are located many miles away from their home residence. When they travel to pick up the units, there is a fictitious address, or the RV business has been dissolved.
The Iowa raceway has partnered with Blue Ox towing to name their trackside campground the Blue Ox Campgrounds. California is also considering using non-profit and private organizations to sponsor their state run campgrounds. The purpose is to work more cooperatively with outside organizations, and to generate revenue.
Pennsylvania is wrestling with a plan proposed by the governor to lease state parks to gas development. The purpose is to generate new revenue. This is vigorously opposed by state environmental groups.
June 2014: With pressure mounting to avert a transportation funding crisis this summer, 2014, the administration is considering reversing a long standing tradition on interstate tolls. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has been quoted as saying that states would be allowed to consider tolls to pay for repairs needed for infrastructure repairs. It has been expressed that traditional funding can no longer meet the need.Shorebreak Energy Developers has issued a press release stating they will provide and install solar panels in several California private RV parks and campgrounds. They will then sell the power generated back to the same parks at a discount rate of approximately 35% to 75%.A draft report scheduled to be released in May 2014, is said to indicate that California parks are being dragged down by stagnant leadership, inadequate resources and a failure to meet the needs of young Latinos. The report itself is the result of close scrutiny since the revelation in 2012 that the parks department was closing parks when they had stock piled millions of dollars. The report itself will be an ongoing process throughout 2014.A Nebraska bill providing an additional $43 million to work on a backlog of repairs and new installations for state parks is receiving favorable responses from the Nebraska legislature. Nebraska has eight state parks, 64 recreation areas and 11 state historical areas, and sees anestimated 12 million visitors annually.In Washington State, the senate has passed a bill that would allow advertising in state parks, and authorizes the state to seek assistance from and enter into agreements with private or public organizations interested in conservation and environmental maintenance of the park system. The bill gives the park commission the flexibility to partner with communities while providing a new source of much needed revenue. Also in Washington the Puyallup RV show will donate $1.00 from every discounted adult or senior ticket sold at the box office to Washington State Parks.T.R. Arnold & Associates of Elkhart,IN announced they now are authorized to approve design, inspect and certify RV units headed to Canada. The accreditation contract with the Standards Council of Canada was signed recently in Canada.State officials in Tennessee are in the early stages of determining the feasibility of private concessionaires taking over certain hospitality operations relating to Montgomery Bell State Park. This would include the Inn, restaurant and golf course. If workable, there are 11 other state parks with similar facilities.The town of Shediac in New Brunswick, Canada has approved a by-law change that would allow a new 708 site RV park. The controversy includes rezoning some areas not now included within the town borders. There fore the project would also require the Province’s approval. Other controversies of this park proposal must also be addressed.Florida RV parks faced with problems are turning to Newby Management Company to run their park. The company now has 41 parks under its umbrella, yet owns none of the properties. A Newby spoke person said it is more than cutting the grass and collecting rents. We have to keep the residents happy, our investors happy, and our team members happy. The company has a policy of responding to complaints within 24 hours, and pushes park owners to keep properties attractive.The ARC, American Recreation Coalition, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources on reauthorization of legislation allowing federal agencies to collect and retain entrance and recreation fees. ARC told congress that recreationists supported fees but were concerned about the lack of focus on improvements in recreation experiences following the enactment of the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
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