White City, Ore. (Feb. 13, 2023) – The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) has opted to set aside the idea of establishing a jet boat concession agreement to serve visitors at TouVelle State Recreation Site. The decision comes after several months of staff research and public outreach. Because the park doesn’t set rules for use of the Rogue River, the decision does not affect whether jet boats will continue to travel the river and visit the state park.
TouVelle is a 59-acre park on the banks of the Rogue River near White City. The park serves an estimated 400,000 visits per year and is popular with anglers, boaters, picnickers, birdwatchers, waders, and day hikers. The park features group day-use shelters and charges a parking fee ($5 per day, $30 per year).
Rules for use of the river are not set by OPRD, and motorboats—including jet boats—are currently allowed. To expand recreation service at the park, a pilot project using a short-term “Special Use Permit” allowed a local jet boat business—Rogue Jet Boat Adventures—to operate from the park, meaning they could post their business name and conduct transactions at the site. The pilot project ended in late 2022 and staff began studying whether to pursue a formal concession agreement, which typically last five years or more.
To work toward a decision, staff spoke with park visitors, held a local public open house meeting, talked directly with nongovernment organizations and partner agencies, and conducted an online survey that produced 1,600 responses (results). While jet boat use is allowed on the river, OPRD was interested in understanding how people felt about potentially encouraging this use around the park. The outreach showed generally high satisfaction with the park, strong support for jet boat service from people who have patronized it, and equally strong concerns from people who feel the social and biological effects of increased jet boat traffic either need more study, or will degrade the river.
The park management team led by District Manager Dani Padilla and Park Manager Nathan Seable led the review and concluded the park is not yet ready for a concession. Since jet boats are allowed on the river, visitors should expect to still see them while visiting the park. Any member of the public, including business owners, are allowed to use park facilities so long as they don’t advertise in the park or conduct business transactions there, and follow all other park rules.
“Parks need to grow and change as we work to serve a larger population, and especially different kinds of people including those new to outdoor recreation,” says OPRD District Manager Dani Padilla. “But the park has to be ready, and we have work to do updating TouVelle before we consider adding new services.”
“Visitors who used Rogue Jet Boat Adventures liked the experience and that’s one of our two goals: help people enjoy the park, and protect it and the river for the long-run,” adds Park Manager Nathan Seable. “We want to be a good neighbor, and it’s pretty clear more community conversation is needed outside the park on this kind of question.”
OPRD has no plans to resume studying the possibility of any kind of concession at this time. TouVelle is open year-round from dawn to dusk.