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Sunnyside Park to begin charging day use fee

A $7 day use parking fee will be charged at Sunnyside County Campground effective Friday, June 9, according to Linn County Parks Director Stacey Whaley.

Lewis Creek Day Use area has had a similar fee in place for several years, she said.

A seasonal pass that covers Lewis Creek and Sunnyside County Campground is available for $60.

According to Whaley, the fee is being implemented because Linn County Parks and Recreation does not receive tax money from the county’s general fund and the costs of maintenance, supplies and labor continue to increase, just as they have for Linn County residents.

“Linn County tax dollars do not support Linn County Parks and haven’t for several years,” she said. “Our operations are funded by guest fees such as camping, day use, RV dumping and we sell some firewood and ice. We also receive some Transient Lodging Tax funds and a portion of Oregon State RV licenses.”

Linn County Parks has also received several grants from the Oregon State Marine Board over the years.

Sunnyside Park will begin charging fees for day use later this month, including for parking and boat ramp use.

Linn County Parks and Recreation is a large operation, from boat ramps on the Willamette River on the west side of the county to Clear Lake Resort on the far eastern side of the county. There are more than 600 camping slips and 33 total properties.

Even though the parks system has grown considerably over the last 25 or 30 years, full-time staffing consists of only 13 people assisted by 35 to 40 seasonal staffers. They are responsible for booking campsite reservations, cleaning restrooms, cabins and yurts, building and remodeling facilities and maintaining park spaces.

“Our staff are also called on to monitor and enforce issues at day use areas, which costs us resources and affects the experiences of other parks users,” Whaley said. “The fees will help offset the operational costs associated with keeping our parks clean and safe.”

Whaley noted that other government-run facilities including the Bureau of Land Management, State Parks and U.S. Forest Service, already charge daily fees.

“For a long time, the Parks and Recreation Department has operated based primarily on camping fees and the Board of Commissioners would like to see that more diversified,” Whaley said. “We are trying to spread the cost of operating the parks more equitably across all user groups.”

Whaley said that the parking fee is included when someone rents moorage at the Sunnyside Campground.

She noted that the $7 fee is the same as someone paying for an additional vehicle at a camping space. Group shelter reservations will include 20 guest parking passes.

“The fees can be paid at entrance booths at either Sunnyside or Lewis Creek and if the booth isn’t open, there will be a card-pay kiosk so guests can pay and receive a ticket to place on their vehicle’s dashboard,” Whaley said.

She added that people can also park outside of Sunnyside County Campground and walk in without paying a fee, and there is no fee for people who wish to use the dog park or access the fishing pond, which are outside the park proper.

To learn more about Linn County Parks and Recreation, see the annual summer visitors guide at http://www.co.linn.or.us/parksrec/page/linn-county-parks-visitors-guide-2023.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer