Towns see cash in Crater Park centennial: Upper Rogue Alliance unveils airstrip, byway plans
September 19, 2000
By MELISSA MARTIN
SHADY COVE — When Crater Lake National Park celebrates its 100th birthday in 2002, many of the 600,000 tourists that will come to admire North America’s deepest lake will drive Highway 62.
Local communities hope to capture bonus tourist dollars with a plan unveiled Monday that calls for improving a Prospect airstrip, turning parts of Highway 62 into a stellar route and lighting the bridge in Shady Cove.
“Crater Lake is the crown jewel of the upper Rogue,” said Greg Joelson, owner of Edgewater Inn, Shady Cove’s newest hotel. “And Shady Cove is the last full-service community off the Interstate 5 before Crater Lake.”
The Upper Rogue Regional Tourism Alliance revealed plans to create a campground at a state airstrip hidden in a forest near Prospect. Plans call for adding a safety zone to the paved runway to accommodate jets and creating a parking apron big enough to hold about 10 to 20 planes, said Gilbert Purdy, a Shady Cove engineer.
But for folks who prefer wheels to wings, the tourism group is seeking “National Scenic Byway” status for the 150-mile state Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway. The route stretches from Gold Hill to Roseburg, taking in Shady Cove, Lost Creek Lake, Crater Lake, Diamond Lake and Glide as it winds through the Cascade mountains.
The route would join the ranks of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, the Klamath-to-Crater Lake route that earned top honors as an “All American Road,” said Paul Galloway of the Rogue River National Forest. A National Scenic Byway would not only show up on tourist maps but would make local projects eligible for $21 million in federal transportation grants given away each year, said Joe Hunkins, of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association.
“Communities on the National Scenic Byways receive the largest grants,” Hunkins said.
Shady Cove leaders want to go a step further by creating a gateway to Crater Lake, said Alma Spicer, director of the tourism alliance. They hope to place streetlights on the state bridge over the Rogue River, shining in time for Crater Lake’s centennial celebration.
Founder’s Day at Crater Lake is set for Aug. 25, 2002, said Michael Romick, manager of Crater Lake Co., which operates the lodge, restaurant, gift shop and boat tours at the lake. Crater Lake averages 500,000 visitors a year, a small amount when compared to Yellowstone’s 3.6 million or Yosemite’s 5 million, Romick said. An additional 50,000 to 100,000 people are expected to drive to the caldera during the park’s anniversary.
“If Crater Lake gets a 20 percent increase in visitors, it means more tourism for Shady Cove,” Romick said. “There are only three ways to get to Crater Lake and this is the main thoroughfare off the Interstate 5. The State of Oregon’s No. 1 promotion will be the centennial celebration,” he added. “Every state publication in 2001 will have Crater Lake on its cover.”
But if tourist groups want to compete for lottery dollars, they need to do the math, said Bev Thacker of Oregon Economic and Community Development Department. With a volunteer staff and a $1,300 budget, the alliance is seeking funding for a full-time paid director.
“These projects are nice, but you need to show us the numbers,” Thacker said. “Find a way to document how much money changes hands, how much money tourists spend in Shady Cove. Tourism happens when dollars change hands.”