County plans expansion of Kingsley Campground

MAP shows a conceptual layout option by Jerry Davis Consulting for what a new, expanded Kingsley Campground may look like.

Graphic courtesy of Hood River County
MAP shows a conceptual layout option by Jerry Davis Consulting for what a new, expanded Kingsley Campground may look like.

Hood River County is mulling improvements to a replaced Kingsley Reservoir Campground after an irrigation project floods it.

The Hood River County Board of Commissioners on Monday decided to move forward with the first two phases of the campground project, subject to available funding.

Commissioners also okayed staff to seek grant opportunities as they arise, authorizing Jeff Hecksel, county administrator, to sign related applications.

The campground closed in September and will stay off-limits until spring 2019. It was a planned closure that happened to coincide with the Eagle Creek fire, during which the county blocked off a large piece of its forest land for public safety.

Following a land exchange with Farmers Irrigation District, work will extend into 2018 prepping for FID’s flooding.

Crews will raise the dam, boosting capacity for valley agriculture that taps into the water supply.

The pool will flood about 16 acres of neighboring county forest land, including Kingsley Reservoir Campground. From there, the county plans to shift the campground mostly from the east bank to the southwest side of the reservoir.

A concept plan emerged this summer. The next step was for commissioners to consider expanding the existing campground and facilities, and take advantage of FID replacement compensation as a match for state grant funds.

The existing campground has 24 sites and no full-time host.

Its replacement, according to a proposal, would double sites to 50, and feature a staffer as host.

Doug Thiesies, county forest manager, expects more efficient administration would also spur more revenue return. He said a rustic aesthetic will suit the project.

“We believe the most economical choice for this location is to maintain a primitive campground, with limited services but improved campsites, vault restrooms and day use facilities,” Thiesies said in a report.

Other highlights a concept plan illustrates: a lakeside walking path and fishing sites.

An early plan breaks up the project into two parts. Initial work and a portion of campsites would be completed in Phase One, while tent sites in the southwest area would be finished in Phase Two.

According to a financial breakdown, the campground in 2016-2017 brought in $35,492 in revenue versus $12,667 in county expenses.

A projection for the new, 50-space campground estimates $109,000 in revenue against $78,000 in costs.

At Monday’s county board of commissioners meeting, Thiesies said it would be best to have the host on site every day, even if the shifts are brief.

Since 2016, the forestry department has managed the county’s Kingsley area property holdings.

Kingsley lies about nine miles southwest from Hood River city limits. A web of county-owned trails surrounds the lake, giving terrain for hikers, bikers, ATV vehicle riders and campers.

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