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US Senator Wyden Urges Park Service to Keep Crater Lake Operations Running

US Senator Ron Wyden is urging the National Park Service to keep Crater Lake operations running as the federal agency decides whether to dissolve a contract with the company that manages lodging, dining, retail and boat tours in the park.

The Oregonian reports Wyden's letter comes one week after news that the National Park Service has threatened to terminate a contract with Philadelphia-based Aramark, which has operated in the Southern Oregon park since 2018. Aramark, under its subsidiary Crater Lake Hospitality, is currently under contract through 2030. It also provides services at the Oregon Caves National Monument.

Federal officials have accused Aramark's subsidiary of a litany of management issues at the park, including shabby living conditions for park employees, park buildings in a state of disrepair and serious environmental hazards. The National Park Service plans to terminate the contract unless the company "shows cause as to why NPS should not do so."

That decision came two months after Wyden sent out his first public letter on the issue, laying bare a number of "serious concerns" about operations by Aramark's subsidiary, and asking the federal agency to "take immediate action to prevent concessionaire mismanagement from continuing to threaten Crater Lake National Park, its visitors, or the employees who live and work there."

National Park Service documents released since Wyden’s complaint have backed up the senator's accusations, and former employees have confirmed additional problems in the park, including payroll issues that led to withheld paychecks – an incident filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries.

Federal officials have not said how long they're giving Aramark to respond, or what might happen to park services should the termination go through. The National Park Service's concession guidelines note that contract termination can be "time consuming," but offer no specific timeline, as the circumstances can vary.

In his letter, Wyden implored the agency to consider park visitors and any potential impact to the local tourism industry as the two parties work through the contract issue.
Posted on 2/24/24 5:32AM by Chuck Benson