The demand for group campsites in California is far outstripping the supply, according to a report in The Record, Stockton.
Prime summer weekend nights at group sites in national forests and state parks get booked six months or more in advance, and large groups often spill into conventional family campgrounds, occupying two, three, four or more individual sites. That sometimes leads to trouble when vegetation between sites get trampled and other campers complain of noise.
“Our campsites were designed and built by and large in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s,” said Brian Kermeen, a recreation specialist for the Stanislaus National Forest. “The way people recreated then was a small family.”
Now however, many Californians prefer to bring larger groups that far exceed the once-standard six- or eight-person site, recreation officials say.
The state’s growing wealth also makes a difference. Instead of a single tent, most families now bring several. And instead of cars, many campers now use pickups and trailers or 40-foot-long recreational vehicles.
“The footprint of impact is a lot bigger today than it was in the ’60s,” Kermeen said.
Government money woes and tighter environmental rules have put the brakes on campground construction, with few sites added since the 1970s.
The last campground completed in the Stanislaus National Forest was in 2000 after 15 years of work at a price tag of more than $1million.
California state parks soon might start building campgrounds again after a 20-year hiatus, said Michael Gross, superintendent of Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.
“At Folsom Lake, we are looking at expanding our group campgrounds with our General Plan process over the next several years,” Gross said.