Three of eight campgrounds in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest opened last weekend with a new concessionaire and a first-ever reservation system in place.
Rogue Recreation Inc. founder Dick Goodboe has sold the operation he founded 22 years ago as a way to privatize the forest's most profitable campgrounds amid the Forest Service's cost-saving operational cuts in the early 1990s.
A.L. Acosta Ltd., based in Reno, has taken over the campgrounds and plans to continue operating under the Rogue Recreation name, while adding improvements such as new paint and better signs, said owner Alisa Acosta.
Acosta said she owns several businesses that do contract work with federal agencies in Nevada and California through a minority-owned business program. Though this is her first concessionaire contract, her background is in property management, and she has a master's degree in hotel management, she said.
On Friday, Rogue Recreation opened Union Creek and Farewell Bend campgrounds on Highway 62 and Fish Lake Campground at Fish Lake off Highway 140.
The remaining campgrounds — Doe Point, Whiskey Springs, Abbott Creek, North Fork and Fourbit Ford — will open May 16.
Part of the concessionaire's contract allows for up to 60 percent of each campground's sites to fall under the Forest Service reservations program through www.reserveamerica.com, said Forest Service spokesman Paul Galloway.
Goodboe chose not to use the reservation option, but the new concessionaire has, Galloway said.
Acosta said 60 percent of the spaces at Fish Lake, Doe Point, Union Creek and Farewell Bend campgrounds will be on the reservation system, but they will be on a four-day window, Acosta said.
That way, anyone who shows up at one of the campgrounds and finds an empty campsite that has not been reserved can have that space, and it will be off the reservations list for up to four days, Acosta said.
That is in addition to the 40 percent of campsites that will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
"We'll make sure we take care of the locals," Acosta said.
Acosta said she stumbled upon the Rogue Recreation opportunity while inquiring about the availability of Fish Lake Resort, which operates near Fish Lake and Doe Point campgrounds. That is when she learned that Goodboe was looking to sell and retire.
Acosta has two years remaining on the five-year concessionaire contract, which would then be up for a five-year renewal. Goodboe's contract with the Forest Service went into place in 1993.
The sale was finalized March 31. Terms were not disclosed.
Goodboe, 73, of Prospect, said it was time for him to retire. He said he never lost money despite having everything from forest fires and timber blow-downs to a recession come his way.
"The trick was to hire the right people, give them the stuff to work with right and let them do it," Goodboe said.
He said he plans to spend his summers fishing on the region's lakes and the ocean.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.