A group of Clemson University football fans would be sacked for a loss if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) shortens the campground season at Twin Lakes Campground near Clemson, South Carolina.
Twin Lakes is situated five miles from Clemson and just minutes from Clemson University. With its waterfront campsites and convenient location, it’s one of the most popular campgrounds at the Hartwell Dam and Lake Project.
In late September, USACE staff began fielding inquiries from RVers who heard about a proposal to reduce the 2008 camping season from March 1–November 30 to May 1–September 9.
The possible reduction in campground availability particularly concerns the IPTAY Chapter of Clemson, an FMCA chapter whose activities center on Clemson Tigers sporting events and athletics fundraising. Many of the chapter’s 52 member families camp at Twin Lakes during the college football season, which typically runs from early September to late November.
Budget Constraints. In an e-mail directed to FMCA, Zach Harkness, chief ranger of the recreation section at Hartwell Lake, said the rumors of the reduced camping availability are true. “We are facing significant projected budget reductions next year. In order to compensate for these reductions, we are having to reduce our maintenance and operating costs in our parks.”
The USACE manages nine campgrounds at Hartwell Lake. To maintain a high level of customer service despite proposed cutbacks, the Corps is considering reducing how long the parks are actually open, Mr. Harkness said.
“We established the May 1–September 9 time frame to cater to our most highly visited parks during the busiest time of the year, Memorial Day through Labor Day, to try and serve the largest amount of people we can in such a short time.”
At this point, the cutbacks are “just projections,” he added. “Our budget will not be finalized until after October 1, 2007. If for some reason more funding becomes available, we will re-evaluate next year’s schedule.”
Hoping For Longer Season. Judy Czarsty, FMCA’s Eastern Area vice president and an IPTAY chapter member, wants the USACE to keep Twin Lakes Campground open at least a little later in the year. Its location and beautiful setting, coupled with the area’s appealing climate, make it an ideal gathering place for her chapter members and other RVers, as well as Clemson alumni.
“We’re hoping Twin Lakes will stay open into November and through Thanksgiving, because people still camp in that time frame,” she said.
Corps-Wide Or Localized?
Ms. Czarsty said she wonders whether other USACE parks would be affected by budget cuts. “Our concern is that this could be a bigger issue than just the Corps’ parks down in South Carolina,” she said.
The USACE manages more than 4,300 recreation areas in the United States. The Hartwell Dam and Lake Project is in the Savannah District of the USACE’s South Atlantic Division.
Billy Birdwell, public affairs chief for the Savannah District, said the cutbacks are not across the board Corps-wide, but depend on the funding each Corps project receives. “Because of decreasing budgets, we must cut back services in those places with no other source of income. Hartwell is one of those places.”
Thurmond Lake, an Army Corps project near Augusta, Georgia, has an active timber harvesting program that supplies additional funds, Mr. Birdwell said. “But in certain years, Thurmond, too, has cutbacks.”
Submit Comments. Max Durbin, chair of FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee, encourages motorhome owners to contact the Savannah District (912-652-5054) and request that Twin Rivers Campground remain open in 2008 at least until after the football season is over.
“If the campground can’t stay open with maintenance people on duty,” he said, “they could keep it open as a winterized facility, closing off the electric and water hookups so folks can still park there overnight if necessary. These motor coaches are self-contained; owners are only looking for a place to park.”
Twin Lakes Campground has 102 campsites, all with water and electric hookups. In 2005 and 2006, the recreation reservation service ReserveAmerica included Twin Lakes on its list of “America’s Top 100 Family Campgrounds.”
Change In California Sales Tax Impacts RV Buyers
California residents who buy a new motorhome may be exempt from sales tax if the RV is registered in another state and kept out of California for at least 90 days after purchase. This is the result of the new budget passed by the California Legislature on August 21, 2007, which changed the out-of-state time requirement back to 90 days. The 90-day requirement had been in place until 2004, when state law changed to require residents to keep their RVs, yachts, and airplanes out of the state for one year to receive the sales tax exemption. The law with the one-year stipulation had been renewed each year since 2004. The tighter rules resulted in a $45 million revenue increase for each year since 2004, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In Los Angeles, which has an 8.25 percent sales tax rate, the tax bill for a $150,000 motorhome would be $12,375. In Sacramento, which has a 7.75 percent sales tax rate, the tax bill would be $11,625.
California Approves RV Friendly Sign
Motorhomers traveling on California highways should find it easier to locate businesses that can accommodate their vehicles.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation adopting the “RV Friendly” highway sign logo for use in the state’s commercial logo program for gas, food, and lodging businesses.
California is the 14th state to join the RV Friendly sign initiative, joining Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
State RV groups and enthusiasts have implemented the program through legislation and by working with their state transportation departments.
The RV Friendly sign is a round, yellow reflector sign with “RV” featured prominently in the center. Gas, restaurant, camping, and lodging businesses that purchase highway exit logo signs are the targeted buyers of the sign.
Adding the RV Friendly symbol to their existing highway service signs allows businesses to tell RV travelers that their gas, food, lodging, or camping facility can easily accommodate RVs, including both motorhomes and towable units.
“California is one of the most popular destinations for RVers and the second biggest producer and seller of RVs in the country,” said RVIA president Richard Coon. “We’re happy that the country’s most populous state is now even more “˜RV Friendly.'”