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Contact: Tom Farrell, 605-745-1130
WIND CAVE NATIONAL PARK, S.D. - The Elk Mountain Campground, closed since March 7, is scheduled to reopen with reduced services for the summer on Friday, May 24. Closing the campground was one of several actions Wind Cave took to stay within its reduced budget resulting from Congressionally mandated sequestration. Due to changing circumstances, the park is now able to use moneys previously earmarked for another project to fund reduced services at the campground this summer.
In preparation of this mandated 5 percent budget cut, each park prepared a sequestration plan detailing how it would absorb these cuts while still providing vital services. Closing the campground was one of the actions outlined in the park's sequestration plan.
"We looked at our sequestration plan and determined we could delay an upcoming project to install a backup generator for the visitor center and instead reopen the campground this summer with limited services," said park superintendent Vidal Davila. "We held discussions with Custer State Park and looked at contracting out campground services, but none of these options could be done in the short timeframe needed before summer."
Last year the campground took in $25,046 in revenue and cost $46,154 to operate. Campground fees accounted for less than 4% of park fee revenue in 2012. The park has submitted a request to initiate the public involvement process necessary to raise campground fees beginning in 2014. The cost per site would increase from $12 to $18 in the summer, when the water is turned on, and from $6 to $12 in the winter, when the restrooms are closed and only a vault toilet is available.
This summer one of the four loops in the campground will remain closed, and maintenance activities, such as cleaning services, will only occur five days a week.
"This is the most attention this little campground has ever gotten," said Davila. "On a typical night last year, two out of three sites were vacant. We're hoping this attention will result in increased visitor use now that people know how quiet it is at the Elk Mountain Campground."
The park will continue to implement its sequestration plan. This summer the visitor center will open an hour later and close an hour earlier and there will be fewer ranger-led programs.