Josh Benham

The La Grande Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission decided Thursday night that while camping will still be allowed at Morgan Lake Park, users might not be able to enjoy week-long stays beginning next year.

At its regular meeting for April, the commission passed a motion, 5-1, to recommend a number of changes to Morgan Lake beginning in the 2018 camping season. The proposal will now be presented to the La Grande City Council, which must approve significant changes to the park, at its regular session in May for consideration.

The highlight was the board’s recommendation to restrict camping to three nights instead of the current seven. Campers would be required to complete more thorough registration at the park, with added documentation including license plate numbers. There is currently no formal registration needed for camping.

A heavier emphasis on fire restrictions during fire bans was another recommendation, plus limiting camping to clearly identified, designated sites. Additionally, the camp host would be able to sell firewood to campers.

Commission chairperson Jennifer Williams and commission members Meg Hawks, Doug Briney, Mark Gomez and Bob Mills voted in favor of the recommendation, while commission vice-chair Steve Antell opposed, citing degradation to habitat as one of his key reasons.

The commission took action on making changes at Morgan Lake following an uptick in use at the park in recent years, which had brought challenges that included littering, habitat destruction and vandalism.

For the complete story, see the April 14 edition of The Observer.