Save Archie: Town wants Forest Service to open campground back up

MAPLETON, Ore. - Residents and merchants in the town of Mapleton are on a mission to save their one and only campground.

The activist group is called "Save Archie," and it's getting the attention of the U.S. Forest Service.

Mapleton merchants say they want to work with Siuslaw National Forest officials and find some way to re-open the old Archie Knowles Campground.

The Forest Service closed the camp at the end of 2010 because of low attendance and failing infrastructure, said District Ranger Michele Jones at the Siuslaw National Forest.

But merchants argue low attendance or not, the camp's important to boosting local tourism.

"When you bring people in, they buy stuff. They tell their friends," said Terri McAllister with Save Archie. "You're listed on the national website as being here, so people know."

Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich has attended recent meetings between residents and the USDA Forest Service and wants to see the campground revived.

"It's the last presence of the Forest Service in Mapleton because they closed down an office there," he said. "So it's really important to the citizens of Mapleton."

District Ranger Jones said the Forest Service intended to decommission the camp but now hopes to work on a community plan to open the camp again.

"If we could come to an agreement on how we can manage the site, to meet the needs of the Forest Service and meet the needs of the community, we could see if we could work together," Jones said.

Those plans could involve Lane County Parks, if negotiations can start again on a lease agreement for the campground.

Jones said the camp likely cannot be reopened this year. Spring 2015 is a more realistic goal.