TVA chooses concession vendor to manage its campgrounds

Published 9:23 am Monday, March 2, 2015

Star Photo/Brandon Hick During the summer months, the campground at Watauga Dam sees a lot of visitors. Those campers can expect to start seeing changes to how the campground is managed.

Star Photo/Brandon Hick
During the summer months, the campground at Watauga Dam sees a lot of visitors. Those campers can expect to start seeing changes to how the campground is managed.

Campers visiting six popular Tennessee Valley Authority campsites this season will see some changes to how things operate.

On Feb. 23, TVA announced it had selected Recreation Resource Management LLC out of 13 vendors as the campground concessionaire to operate the agency’s campgrounds at Watauga, Cherokee, Melton Hill, Pickwick and both the headwater and tailwater facilities at Douglas. Recreation Resource Management is a national company that manages over 150 national and state park campgrounds in 11 states.

“We were thrilled that so many expressed interest in managing these important facilities, but RRM’s experience and reputation led us to believe they were the best choice,” said Bucky Edmondson, senior manager for TVA Outreach and Recreation. “We are working with RRM leadership to ensure that our campgrounds are well-maintained and properly managed, as well as pursuing the addition of new amenities, like camp stores and wireless Internet access, which many of our guests tell us they desire.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

One of the first changes campers will notice will be the staffing of the campgrounds, said Leland Willis, general manager of the TVA campsites for RRM.

“There will be an employee on duty at all times,” Willis said. “That will be a little different than what TVA has done.”

Each campground will have a designated staff throughout the season, he said.

“We will have a manager couple at each of the six campgrounds. They will live on site in their RV,” Willis said. “Under them will be another employee or two.”

At the Watauga Campground, Jim and Frances Parker will be the managing couple, Willis said, adding they will be moving in at the campground on March 9 to get it ready to open. The campground will be open from March 15 through November 15, weather permitting, Willis said.

While the TVA has recently made some improvements to its campgrounds, Willis said additional improvements are in the plans for RRM’s management of the facilities.

“For this first season we will sell ice and firewood in the campground,” Willis said. “We do plan to build some type of cantina or store that will sell camping items and food, that will probably come in the second year.” Plans are also in the works to create an on-line reservation system for the campgrounds, including the one in Watauga, so that campers can reserve a spot rather than relying on openings due to the campground currently operating on a first come, first served basis, Willis said.

RRM will also be evaluating the campsites to see what other improvements or changes are needed.

Campers will also notice a change to the fees for campgrounds this year.

“There was a slight fee increase, but that was set by the TVA,” Willis said. “TVA is still in control of the fees and most of the rules and regulations.”

The base rate for an RV site will be $14 and a tent site will be $10. TVA will continue to honor Golden Age, Golden Access, America the Beautiful Access Pass and America the Beautiful Senior Pass discounts for 50 percent off the base camping rate.

Additional services, such as electricity, water, sewer or premium waterfront campsites, will have separate charges that will only be collected if the camper chooses to take advantage of them. No discounts are offered on additional services.

To ensure that as many campers as possible enjoy these recreational facilities, individual users are limited to a maximum 21-day stay during the peak season from May 1 to Sept. 30. The maximum stay is extended to 30 days during off season periods.

Full details of all camping fees and policies can be found in the camping section of TVA’s website or on RRM’s website.

Day use areas, including recreation areas, picnic areas, swim beaches and any associated public restroom and parking facilities will remain free-of-charge and open to the public.