By Robert Lucke
Reserved sites in Beaver Creek Park took up a lot of discussion at the regular August meeting of the Hill County Park Board.
Board member Mel Gomke raised the issue at the Aug. 6 meeting.
"What I was wondering is if during the week can a person camp in a reserved area if they have a park sticker?" Gomke asked.
Of the 90 or so campgrounds in Beaver Creek Park, 11 are reserved by the park office for large groups. Those campgrounds, which rent for $20 a day, are often used by large groups whose members don't need the regular park stickers to camp there.
Park superintendent Bernie Golie told Gomke that park employees discourage other people from camping at those sites during the week prior to the reservation.
"Someone might be able to reserve a site and when they got to the site they might find someone else in it so we just try not to let anyone in the sites," he said.
"Maybe we should look at changing that," Gomke said.
"There are eighty other campgrounds," Golie said. "Why do they need to go to those 11?"
"It just seems to me like you are not utilizing your park to its capacity," Gomke said. "There are a whole lot of vacancies."
In other business, the board voted to accept the recommendations of the grazing committee, which met July 23. Some of the recommendations for the 2001 grazing season, which begins the day after Labor Day, included limits on the number of cattle allowed to graze and the length of stay due to the drought, the need for extra herding, and development of wells and springs. Latecomers may not be allowed. Also recommended was that when the grass is gone, all cattle must go home.
The recommendation are subject to change if the area gets a lot of rain.
Golie reported that he had counted a potential of some 2,900 cattle that could go on the park. But if the grazing committee's 25 percent reduction remains in effect, only about 2,200 cattle would be allowed on the park this season.
The board approved the construction of sidewalks at the Kiwanis Camp. Havre firefighter Al Forsman said the sidewalks will be used during the Muscular Dystrophy Association camp and by other campers with disabilities. The sidewalks will be paid for with $35,000 in state highway funds and $4,000 from the Ronald McDonald House.
Lou Hagener presented a draft plan of ideas the board could use in lieu of fencing off the highway. The state Transportation Department, which recently assumed jurisdiction over the highway, initially had required the county to fence each side. However, the Legislature waived that requirement but asked the county to figure out other ways to keep cattle off the highway. He stressed several times that his draft was preliminary.
Some of the proposals include developing more springs, putting up better signs warning of cattle, studying the speed limit in the park, and requiring more herding during the grazing season.
"No one told us to do this," board chairman Steve Mariani said. "It will show (MDT) that we are proactive."
After much discussion, the two Hill County commissioners in attendance Pat Conway and Doug Kaercher said they would go over the draft with MDT and then bring those suggestions back to the park board.
Board member Dean Hanson reported that the Gildford Park would like help in paying for some of the construction of a new structure. Members voted to allow the Gildford Park to use the $950 in county money it would normally use for watering. The Hill County Water District has prohibited watering of parks.
In addition, board members approved cabin transfers and approved a new cabin to be constructed at site 30 in Mooney's Coulee.
Mariani reminded campers that all-terrain vehicles are not allowed off Beaver Creek Highway in the park from May 15 to Sept. 15.