Friends of Cougar

Information directly from Hoodoo

Cougar Hot Springs: Hoodoo Help

  

Email from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo   4/14/05 9:33pm

Dear Friends of Cougar:
       It is unfortunate that there have been so many crazy rumors over the last few days and weeks. Individually most of these rumors have been put to rest, but I know that there are still a lot of people that think big trouble is brewing, and perhaps there is, but not in the way that you may think.
       I would like to put some rumors to rest quickly. If anyone would like more information about these points feel free to contact me at umbrella96@aol.com (or through our webpage www.hoodoo.com). To begin with, no one is interested in stopping anyone's ability to be nude at the springs. If you have read anything about me, you know I am not interested in stopping it, and never has the Forest Service in any way implied to me that this was a problem that had to be addressed. Some of you took my remarks from the webpage as implying that I was against it. Remember most of the people who read about our camping on the webpage do not go nude, and what I was saying to them was if you go there be ready for a different kind of experience. However, what I was trying to say to everyone is that this resource belongs to all of us, clothed or nude, and that we should respect the rights of everyone. Bottom line though is that everyone should expect nudity here or don't come.
       Secondly, I keep hearing rumors about how I want to see the pools paved. Today one of the frequent members of the hot springs community told me that he had just talked with someone who claimed to hang out with me at Terwilliger in the old days and that I had told him recently that I wanted to pave the pools. All I can do is drop my jaw and say huh? Why would I want to do that? If you think the worst of me and think that I am trying to make big money off of this, why then would I want to spend the money to do it? Anyway, if some of you do believe that the pools should be paved, I will tell you that I am opposed. More than that though, to do so would cost thousands of dollars in environmental studies and even then I don't think it would be allowed. I believe the FS would have a fit if someone suggested it. IT AIN'T GOING TO HAPPEN!
       There have been hard feelings about Hoodoo being asked to take this over rather than the Friends. This is complicated, but please realize that the Friends aren't the only ones that care about this area. I have invested a lot of myself in protecting much of the McKenzie Corridor and of course, most especially Hoodoo Ski Area. There are a lot of other environmental fronts where the fight is being waged as well, but Terwilliger is an important piece of the puzzle. I have explained to Greg in a letter about the cost of caring for the hot springs and explained why I didn't think that the FS would consider the Friends as concessionaires at least not now. However, the picture is larger than that and let me explain.
       While I just signed an amended permit recently for Terwilliger, the real permit for the concession was signed over four years ago. The concession to manage the South Fork and Cougar area was put out for bid in 2000. Hoodoo had the concession before this, but I was reluctant to bid again for a variety of reasons. Part of it was because this area lost money. You can only loose money for so long before you can't afford to pay your employees and your business ends. I didn't want that to happen to Hoodoo. However, no one came forward to replace us and the Forest Service asked us if we would come back. After some discussion I agreed to and signed the normal five and five year agreement. This means that the contract lasts for ten years, but after five years it is reconsidered if the concessionaire doesn't do a good job. That first five years if up after this season, I believe. During this time we have been asked to amend the contract twice with new areas of management. About three years ago we were asked to take on about six new campgrounds. This was not considered a new concession but rather an addition to the old one since they were in the same area. The second addition is Terwilliger. My understanding is that the FS discussed how this should be handled. They talked with the Region 6 people (northwest) and it was determined after much discussion that this should be added to the current concession, and not be considered a separate one. So I recently signed an amendment to an existing permit, not a new one. However, I took it on with one condition, that is that I could do so as a trial only. I know that everyone seems to be amazed when I say this, but the hot springs really is very costly to manage. There is a lot more to this than what most people understand. I have heard many people say that it should just be left to the community and the FS should stay out of it. In today's climate that is not realistic. However, for any concessionaire to bid on the total concession in the future, there are a lot of criteria that will be looked at. Most importantly does the concessionaire manage other FS property? The typical Catch 22. You can't manage FS property until you are already managing FS property. And you can't already be managing FS property since you weren't before, etc. Hoodoo got started because it was managing a ski area on FS property. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule, when no one else is willing to step up, but it is difficult. I could continue with this for hours, but enough is enough. If you want to know more, email me.
       Why $5 when $3 seemed to be too much? The reality is that no matter who manages this, the cost is going to have to be paid by the fees. Right now, the $3 doesn't come close to doing this. It is only if we get good compliance that we will be able to cover the costs with $5, and whether you realize it or not, it is in everyone's interest who cares about Terwilliger to help see that everyone pays his or her share. I have been told that there are a lot of people who will not be able to afford this amount. I have several proposals that may help. First, we will have an annual fee available for $50, so that is the maximum anyone should have to pay in a year. Many who have problems paying this much have Golden Age or Golden Access Cards which allows them to pay $25 instead. Next, I have discussed a plan with Greg where members of the Friends might be able to get their annual passes for $40, but this is under discussion and is probably up to you guys. Finally, I have also discussed a way with Greg where the Friends would be able to select people who you feel should get free passes. That can be done by you with Hoodoo's support.
       There are many other topics that should be discussed, but these are the hot ones. I want you to know that I feel the future of Terwilliger Hot Springs is still in the hands of the Friends. While there are a lot of other players that will be affected by all of this, I suspect it is only the local hot springs community that will make this work or not. I am more than willing to help. I am trying to back you guys financially, but you will be the ones who decide the future here. I hope that we can work together.
Your friend,
Chuck

      

 

Email from Chuck Shepard, owner of Hoodoo; to Greg Thorne     4/14/05 7:04pm

Dear Greg:
       Again thank you for meeting with me today. I sincerely agree with you that it was a mistake for the FS not to have met with you earlier, but I hope that you do understand that the change in personnel thought they were making meaningful contact through Maria. I hope that you also realize now that likewise it would have been good for you guys to make contact with me as well. If there had been more talking at first, perhaps we would still be in the same place, but with more people behind us keeping a good thing going.
       I am commited to helping both you and the FS this year and hopefully longer if we can make this work. Who knows maybe we will have a great campground year and we can help subsidize Terwilliger too. Meanwhile, I sincerely hope that we can work together on this.
       I don't know if it is appropriate to put this letter on your webpage as you have the others, but I am not trying to hide anything, so it is up to you. I spoke to the USFS about several of our topics and there was yes and no's in their answers. First, they were adament about not opening at night. They feel the liability is too much. Perhaps there is still something that can be worked out to managing the distruction in the evening, but it won't be by keeping the springs open after dark.
       I talked to them about the kiosk. I still think that it is needed, if for no other reason than to give the attendants a comfortable place to be and have a phone hookup if possible. We are working on that part now. However, they are leaving that up to me and I am certainly open to input from you.
       I didn't get a chance to talk about what to do with those who are parking only. That problem may have to just solve itself as we go along. I also asked them about the possibility of doing the combination annual pass. I understand what you are saying about this fee being too high, and some people not being able to afford it. I think that it would be a good idea if your group could charge a nominal fee to join (you might make membership free for those who need it), and use this money to help buy annual passes for those your group decides needs the help. I would be willing to give Friend's members a discount of $10 thus giving them an advantage by joining. This is how it would work. Any Friend's member could buy a pass for $40 if you charged at least $15 - $20 to join the Friends and used the money in some positive way for Terwilliger like the "scholarship annual pass". I would be willing to say to people who want a pass "Would you like to have the pass for $50 or would you be interested in joining the Friends for $15 ($20) and buying the pass for $40. You would give us some type of card or sign up sheet or something for the Friends. We would keep track of the money that we collected for you, and either use it to pay for an annual pass as you direct or turn the money over to your group for something that would be used for the good of the hot springs community. You have a few weeks to think about this since we won't be selling the passes until May 13.
       I am 100% in agreement with you and several members of the Friends who have said that Hoodoo will fail without the Friends. But I hope that you also see now that the Friends will fail without the support of Hoodoo. It would be a real shame to loose a great resource because of a pissing match over who should be in charge. I am more than willing to receive as much input from you guys as possible, as long as I am fullfilling my obligation to the FS and the community at large as well as you guys.
       I would like to write an open letter to the Friends in general. That letter will follow as soon as I have time. I hope that you will print it on your webpage or perhaps even send it out as an email alert. If there is something in that letter with which you disagree, let me know and I might be willing to change it before it is posted.
Thanks for you help, I am looking forward to an interesting and hopefully successful summer,
Chuck

 

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