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Wyandotte Woods prices represent positive shift away from tax funds

The Wyandotte Woods State Recreation Area is raising prices while attempting to wean itself from our tax dollars, but the outcome could be positive for those who use the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources’ property and those who don’t.
Non-tax dollars already account for 90 percent or more of the Division of Forestry’s funding. The goal is absolute self-reliance, and that is one reason why camping fees at Wyandotte Woods and other sites have recently increased.
‘When the economy went down, we shut down quite a few things here because the money was not available,’ said Pete Thorn, manager of the Harrison-Crawford/Wyandotte Complex.
‘The less tax money we are dependent on, the better our service and the more reliable our service is going to be,’ Thorn said.
Camping and gate fees aren’t the only way money is raised at the woods and recreation area. Properly managed timber resources are harvested from the property, and grants are pursued by its administrators.
An inn with a convention center, possibly even a swimming pool, are in the early planning stages, but the price of camping is the most visible revenue source.
Current fees for the Class A Campground are $23.32 per night in addition to the $4 gate fee for Indiana residents and $5 for non-residents. The Horseman’s Campground has modern rest room facilities but no electricity; it costs $20.14 per night. Primitive accommodations at Stagestop Campground are $10.60 per night.
According to DNR, Thorn said, about the same amount of money was generated by the campsites, because, though prices were up, attendance was down. The prices could have deterred campers, but the struggling economy is a huge factor. The state will probably let time tell just how big that factor was.
Thorn said the rates are comparable to state camping areas outside of Indiana. Federal camping areas may be a bit a cheaper, he said.
Those rates may seem high for just camping. And, in a sense, they are. DNR is dependent upon various divisions, and some do not generate income. As a result, those divisions need outside funding, and camping fees are intended to help replace tax dollars in those instances, too.
Self-reliance also means that people who do not visit Division of Forestry sites will no longer be funding (through tax dollars) a service they do not use.
Of course, it can be easy to forget about Wyandotte Woods. Obviously, it’s secluded. And for most, camping and other outdoor activities are seasonal. Sometimes the season passes us by before we’ve even thought about the 26,000-acre resource awaiting our visit.
Consider this a reminder.
Stagestop and the Horseman’s Campground do not require reservations. The Class A Campground ‘ with 281 plots with asphalt pads, electricity, and shower and rest room facilities ‘ does. Reservations are made through the Campground Reservation System maintained by Spherix of Maryland by calling 1-866-622-6746 or online at www.camp.in.gov.

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