YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Perhaps the third time will be the charm.
The National Park Service is once again seeking bidders to manage a small lodge, restaurant, general store and other concessions in the wilderness of North Cascades National Park.
The lodge sits in the remote community of Stehekin, a collection of homes and summer cabins surrounded by mountain peaks at the end of Lake Chelan, and is reachable only by boat, floatplane or on foot.
The one incomplete bid submitted for the job last fall was rejected last week, park Superintendent Chip Jenkins said, marking the second time the Park Service had failed to find a management team. Two years ago, the agency didn't get a single bidder for the contract, and a longtime local family was recruited to manage the lodge.
The Park Service released a new prospectus for bids on Tuesday, sweetening the deal in hopes of attracting more interest.
"This is a business opportunity that we have literally done everything we can to try to make it as attractive as possible," Jenkins said. "It's an open competition."
This time around, the Park Service lowered the insurance requirements to reduce costs for the future manager, reduced a franchise fee from 6 percent to 5 percent and eliminated a maintenance reserve fee, which is used for major maintenance on the facilities, such as replacing a roof.
The agency already had revamped the prospectus to allow winter services to be optional under the 10-year contract.
The Lake Chelan National Recreation Area has averaged about 40,000 visitors annually over the past decade. Stehekin is a popular camping, kayaking and hiking spot in summer, often as a pit stop for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. It draws cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter.
About 100 people live in Stehekin year-round. Most residents either own a tourism business — there's a rustic ranch, inns and a bakery — or work for the Park Service, which bought the facilities after North Cascades National Park was created in 1968.
Jenkins stressed that the lodge will be open this summer, with the local Courtney family continuing to oversee the business. Their contract ends Oct. 31, and they have not sought a new one.
The Park Service is planning a site visit to Stehekin in May for interested parties, and the bid process closes on July 12.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.