How much space should park owners leave between their individual campsites to guarantee maximum safety for their guests in case of fire?

The national model code for the campground industry states 10 feet. But in South Dakota, the state health department says that 10 feet has to be present even when units with slideouts are in the fully expanded position.

That’s hard to do for some older campgrounds and that concern was a major topic at the South Dakota Campground Owner’s Association (SDCOA) Annual Spring Conference April 27 in Rapid City, S.D.

Clark Hepper from the state health department was the featured speaker and walked a fine line between rigid enforcement of the law and working with established campgrounds that can’t accommodate the spacing limitations, noted Cherrylee Bradt, SFCOA executive director.

It’s back to the drawing board for the health inspector to see how other states handle the matter, added Max Hammer, SDCOA president. He’s hopeful that when the SDCOA and health officials sit down later this month, the state sides with the campground association and does not insist on a restrictive interpretation of the law.

The 28 attendees from 14 campgrounds and six vendors also heard a presentation from the South Dakota Department of Revenue which reviewed the laws on the state sales tax. Bradt said the presentation was quite informative.

Other presenters included Al Johnson, a Kampgrounds of America Inc. franchisee, and Hammer.

In an interview with Woodall’s Campground Management, Hammer noted that South Dakota owners are hoping for a good business rebound from 2011, when Missouri River flooding seriously curtailed many campgrounds in the center of the state.

Hammer, owner of the Beaver Lake Campground near Custer in the southwest corner of the state, said his reservations are already up 15 percent from the record pace set in 2010.

The SDCOA will gather again in October at a site yet to be determined to elect new officers and set a budget for the coming fiscal year during which it will commemorate the association’s 50th anniversary.