After a discussion spanning several monthly meetings, the Hill County Park Board decided not to change policy regarding large group gatherings at Beaver Creek Park, agreeing instead to contact members of a group whose gathering last fall raised the issue.
Board member Robbie Lucke said that if the board was going to require the local trapping club to hold its youth trapping camp based out of a paid site such as the Eagles Campground, they need to be told soon so the club can reserve a site.
“Those places sometimes fill up fast after the first of the year, the bigger places, ” he said.
Lucke told the board earlier this summer that several cabin owners had approached him to complain that they could not get to their cabins up Moony’s Coulee while the local trapping club held a youth camp based out of a cabin up the coulee.
A large number of recreational vehicles and portable outhouses blocked the road so some cabin owners couldn’t get to their cabins, Lucke said Monday, adding that six cabin owners have talked to him about the trapping camp.
“Those six that I talked to, they’re being held hostage in their park, ” he said. “They paid money for that site. They should be able to use it when they want to. ”
Board Chair Steve Mariani called for a discussion on how to solve the problem.
“I want some solutions, ” he said. “How do we go about solving it? ”
Park Superintendent Chad Edgar said one problem he has with the gathering is the lack of notification and the lack of fees. While some at the trapping camp probably are seasonal park permit holders, and some may pay daily fees, he said, he believes many are using the park without paying.
“It’s for kids; we’re being good Samaritans, in a way, ” but the fees need to be considered, Edgar said.
Mariani added that another problem is the lack of coordination with the park staff members and the board.
“Do we want those people out there with multiple RVs and outhouses, basically without permission? ” he asked the rest of the board.
Board member Mel Gomke asked if the board should set a limit on the number of vehicles or RVs that can be parked at a single cabin site.
Mariani also raised that issue — people have large gatherings at the park, such as reunions or wedding receptions, including a wedding reception he hosted at his own cabin this summer. He asked the board if those also should be limited.
Lucke said a gathering like that is different.
“(The trapping camp) is several days, and if you kept other cabin owners from using their cabins, I bet you’d hear about it, ” he said.
Cabin owner Brad Ruhkamp suggested that people who want a large gathering for a day should contact Edgar and coordinate it with the park management.
“You know when to say yes or no, ” Ruhkamp said.
Mariani said he doesn’t want to limit or prevent the camp.
“It’s about kids, ” he said. “It’s about kids learning how to trap. ”
“But they can learn how to trap (from a paid camp site), ” Lucke repiled.
Board member Larry Kinsella said he doesn’t think the board needs to change the park policies.
“You tell the group they have to move to a regular paid site, ” he said. “I think that’s the only problem you’ve got. ”
Cabin owner Lynn Heggen supported that idea. The cost of renting a site would be spread throughout the entire group holding the camp, “and you’d have some control, ” he said.
Mariani agreed, saying Edgar could contact representatives of the group to help them find a campground for the camp.
“I don’t think we need a motion …., ” Mariani said. "We can (just) get them out of that meadow, get them off of that hillside. ”