OPB: USFS Turns Management of Popular Hot Springs Over To Private Company

Rob Manning

The US Forest Service has decided to hand management of more than two dozen recreation sites on Mount Hood to private companies. That includes the popular Bagby Hot Springs.

The Forest Service has used private concessionaires to run campgrounds on Mount Hood for years. The new decision calls for five-year agreements with two companies to operate 27 more camping areas and Bagby Hot Springs. Spokesman Rick Acosta says it’ll lead to better amenities.

"They have a lot of deferred maintenance and are starting to be really high cost centers. So from the taxpayer point of view, from the government point of view, it's better to go with a concession," says Acosta.

Acosta says the Forest Service is trying to avoid closing places like Bagby. Olivia Schmidt with the environmental group, Bark, argues the Forest Service should instead prioritize spending on recreation.

"The Forest Service knows that the public doesn't want this, they know it's going to decrease the quality of recreation in Mt. Hood National Forest. And they're moving forward with the decision anyway," says Schmidt.

Bark says it intends to appeal the decision.