ELIJAH BRISTOW STATE PARK, Ore. - Clear trails and immaculate campsites like those at Elijah Bristow State Park come at a price -- and Oregon State Park officials want to charge visitors more to enjoy that natural beauty.
"If I told my wife, 'OK, we're going to have to do without five dollars worth of groceries today so I could go to the park,' I know exactly what she would say: 'Find somewhere else in the woods,'" said Bill Becker, retired Eugene resident.
Wednesday afternoon, Becker and his dog Griffy took refuge from the city on the park's winding paths. If officials pass a proposed rate hike-- Becker could be shelling out more money to visit state parks.
By 2010, RV and tent site fees could increase by $4. Reservation and day use fees could increase by $2-- and that's not the entire list of proposed hikes.
The goal is to bring in more than $4 million by 2011 to pay for basic operations like removing garbage, providing drinking water, pumping toilets, mowing lawns and clearing trails.
"If we want to maintain our state parks, then it's going to require the people who use them to contribute," said Julie Whalen, park manager.
Officials say the park system gets funding from the Oregon lottery and RV registrations, but those sources are bringing in less money, and officials say park fees have not increased in 13 years. In Becker's eyes: a bad business move he could end up paying for all at once.
"One thing I don't like about governments is they don't run things like a private enterprise," said Becker. "If the costs have gone up, then the price should go up."