Camping opportunities on leased Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) property will change when the Tennessee Valley Authority raises lease rates and tightens regulations that it plans to begin enforcing in less than four months, the Sand Mountain Reporter, Albertville, Ala., reported.
TVA allows camping on its publicly held land through agreements with commercial and public managers, but retains the right to set limits to ensure that the campgrounds are not used for residential purposes.
But some longtime campers say the rules are drastic and unreasonable.
“I feel TVA is leasing the property out for business, but then trying to micro-manage the owners,” said Travis Allred, a camper at Park No. 2 near Guntersville.
“If a company leases a building, they don’t want to have to move everything out to vacate the property once a year for an inspection. That’s no way to run a business. If your business is going good, that would ruin you.”
Allred and wife Dollie spend an average of three nights a week at the campground during the open season. The Gardendale couple has camped in different spots around Guntersville for the last 10 years.
When TVA put out new requirements two years ago, campers at Park No. 2 did their best to meet the guidelines, Allred said. The few patios still there are on the ground and unattached.
Lakefront campers are removed from the 600-foot waterline at the end of the season. The campers off the water paid a $40 monthly storage fee. While everything had to be disconnected and remain unoccupied during that time, recreational vehicles did not have to be unleveled and moved off the campsites.
Although longterm leases will still be available after regulation enforcement begins, there is no guarantee campers will get a spot, must less the same spot.
All recreational vehicles will have to be removed for at least two weeks of the year. No roofs, decks or other structures can be built or owned by individual campers.
“Everyone did their best to adhere to the changes two years ago,” Allred said. “Now they come up with new rules and regulations. It’s just not right. ”
TVA officials said that these rules are nothing new and provided this statement:
“As a safety precaution, TVA’s guidelines do not allow roofs over campers or campsites. These roofs can restrict some vehicles from fitting into a camping space and limit access to public camping. TVA is requiring roof structures be removed, as they are not permitted under the commercial operators agreement with TVA.”
“TVA regulations regarding permanent structures in public campground spaces are designed for visitor safety and to verify campsites meant for short-term stays are not being used as permanent residences or being reserved exclusively for select private individuals.”
Although facilities can have porches and shelters owned by the managing operators, that option is not being considered at some facilities because of liability issues.
Marshall County Commissioner Bill Stricklend, whose district includes Park No. 2 on TVA land, and Chairman James Hutcheson both stated objections to “getting into the deck business” when the commission discussed the issue recently.
“If we put a porch there and someone falls off of it, we could be held liable. I think we’ll probably just say no to porches,” Stricklend said.
While the loss of a porch or deck may only be an inconvenience for some, many older campers say they will not be able to access larger RVs without them.
“If we don’t have a porch, we can’t use the camper,” said Marlin Hinkle. Hinkle and wife Rennetta have camped at Riverview for 20-plus years. “We simply wouldn’t be able to get in and out of it. There are a lot of people planning to leave, a lot of ‘for sale’ signs on campers.
“If they go up on prices as much as they say, it’s going to hurt businesses in Guntersville,” he added. “People on a fixed income can’t afford to pay more.”
Although the Hinkles would like to keep things the way they are, the couple is not optimistic about TVA backing down. A recent meeting between Riverview campers and TVA representatives “became pretty heated.”
“Everyone was talking at one time. It was hard to understand what was being said,” Hinkle said. “And TVA, they don’t seem to want to do anything to help.”