Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) has resurrected a series of 2008 proposals to electrify campsites in five state parks, sparking a second storm in the outdoor recreation community.
The project will cost an estimated $726,000 and see roughly 107 electrical pedestals installed at Salmon Lake, Placid Lake, Beavertail Hill, Black Sandy and Lewis and Clark Caverns state parks. Critics last year ran down the proposals for a host of reasons, among them increased noise and light pollution from electrical appliances. FWP defends the amenities as part of ongoing efforts to accommodate a wide variety of park visitors.
“Not every campsite under these proposals would be electrified,” says FWP Parks Administrator Chas Van Genderen. “It’s just providing a little bit of additional service for another sector of the population.”
Several campsites at Placid Lake already offer electricity in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Van Genderen says those sites are reserved for handicapped persons until 8 p.m. each night, and FWP personnel are consistently running people without disabilities off those sites to enforce the regulation. In a 2006-07 FWP survey, over 47 percent of visitors said electrical hookups were important or very important in state parks.
For more on the varied sides of this electrifying issue, catch next week's Independent somewhere between newsstands and the recycling bin.