Crater Lake tops list of specialty plates, raises $1.1 million
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
February 26, 2004
Campaign to sell more in the offing
Combined wire, local reports
Crater Lake blue is getting good play around Oregon.
While most Oregon motorists are content with standard issue Douglas fir license plate, an increasing number of drivers have switched to the deep blue of Crater Lake.
The commemorative plates have become the state’s best-selling specialty license plate, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. In a typical month, it outsells all the state’s other specialty plates combined, spokesman Kevin Beckstrom said.
Now, supporters of Oregon’s only national park are beginning a $100,000 campaign to make the plates even more popular. They hope drivers will place them on more vehicles because each sale of the plates raises $18 toward a new science and education center and other projects in the park.
”We’ve found that not everyone knows the money goes back to the park for improvements,” said Mac Brock, Crater Lake National Park’s chief of resource management. ”We want to let them know that not only are you getting a cool-looking plate, but money is going to support this new concept of a science and learning center.”
Construction of a Crater Lake Science and Learning Center, located at two historic rock buildings that for many years were used as seasonal park residences, is scheduled to begin this summer. When completed, the center complex will provide one building for researchers, artists and others while the second will serve as a residence.
Designed by Mike Baggetta of Portland, based on artwork by his wife, Marla, the Crater Lake plates were released in August 2002 in conjunction with the park’s 100th anniversary.
As of Jan. 31, the state had issued the plates to 63,265 vehicles, Beckstrom said.
Drivers who want the plates pay a basic state fee and a one-time $20 charge. Most of the money, minus less than $2 for other fees, goes to the nonprofit National Park Foundation for use at Crater Lake. Sales of the plates raised about $1.1 million as of the end of 2003.
A new $100,000 campaign will urge more drivers to pick up the Crater Lake plates, in hopes of raising more money for the park. It will include broadcast advertising around the state starting next week and will supply car dealers with brochures promoting the plates to car buyers, said Ryan Chackel, general manager of Combined Marketing Group in Bend.
Besides Oregon’s standard license plate, the most widespread plate design commemorated the Oregon Trail. About 380,000 drivers purchased Oregon Trail plates at a one-time charge of $5 from 1993 to 1999. They are no longer available.
The Crater Lake design has outsold the optional salmon design released more than four years earlier. The salmon plates, however, carry a $30 surcharge, $10 more than the Crater Lake version. Vehicle owners also must pay the fee each time they renew their registration, maintaining a stream of funds to aid salmon.
A newer plate with an orange abstract design benefiting the Oregon Cultural Trust was released in February 2003 at the same price as the salmon plate. It’s a slower seller, purchased by 4,354 drivers so far.