Mainers camping more

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AUGUSTA – More Maine people made reservations at the state’s campgrounds during the 2008 season than the previous year, according to figures released recently by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. However, the total number of reservations at Maine’s campgrounds were down by nearly 400. Officials said the rainy weather during the summer and increased gasoline costs are the likely culprits.

“Maine residents realized the value of a “staycation” and took advantage of the beauty and recreational opportunities of their own state park campgrounds,” SAID Will Harris, MBPL director. “They also found the ease of making reservations online.”

More than 2.2 million people a year visit Maine’s state parks and historic sites, generating about $100 million annually for the state’s economy. Campground reservations for 2008 generated a net income of $824,620.99, funds that go into the state’s general fund for use by all state agencies. Last year, the net income was $834,395.

Overall figures for campground reservations for the 2008 season were down, most likely because of the rainy weather during the summer and increased gasoline costs. A total of 12,764 campground reservations were made during 2008, compared to 13,156 in 2007.

The number of in-state reservations, however, was up. A total of 7,845 resident reservations were made this past season, compared to 7,786 in 2007. Non-resident reservations were 4,919 in 2008, compared to 5,370 in 2007.

Last year, some 9,361 people used the Internet to make their reservations. This year, a total of 9,599 used the Internet.

“It’s a great way to be ‘green,’ and those making reservations online find it’s particularly easy,” said Charlene Daniels, state park reservations supervisor.

Daniels also pointed out that the most popular park for camping this past year was Sebago Lake State Park, with a total of 3,187 reservations made. Campers spent a total of 12,482 nights at that campground. The next most popular was Camden Hills State Park, with 1,589 reservations and 4,106 total nights.

The general cost for campground reservations is $15 per night for residents, plus tax and reservation fee, and $25 for non-residents, plus tax and reservation fee, though this varies from campground to campground. If campers choose electric/water hookups, there is an extra per night charge.

Daniels said that those interested in making reservations for the 2009 campground season will be able to call or go online as of 9 a.m., Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. People can update their accounts now, she said, in anticipation of making reservations.

Those making reservations can call no sooner than Feb. 2 at: 800-332-1501 in Maine and 207-624-9950 for all others. For more information, go to http://www.campwithme.com

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