EverGreen Announces Ever-Lite Select Line

Middlebury, Indiana-based EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLS, a leading innovator in eco-friendly, lightweight composite travel trailers, announced Monday (November 28) it has re-engineered its line of Ever-Lite travel trailers to provide economy-minded and entry-level campers with EverGreen quality at a very affordable price, and will introduce the line at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

The new Ever-Lite Select line is now the largest brand in the EverGreen lineup with 15 floor plans now available, according to a news release. Based on the original Ever-Lite series, there are eight lightweight travel trailers and seven deep slide travel trailers now available in Ever-Lite Select series ranging from 25 to 36 feet in length.

The original Ever-Lite brand with full ComposiTek construction is still available in nine floor plans.

The two new, twin axle 26-foot Element models from EverGreen include the ET26 SRK rear kitchen and the ET26 SRL rear lounge floor plans. The sleeping capacity in both new floor plans increases by one adult. Photo Courtesy of Evergreen RV

To lower the cost of the new Ever-Lite Select travel trailers, EverGreen replaced composite materials with more affordable components, including:

  • Satin finished exterior gel-coat: Built to be more affordable, the entire Ever-Lite Select line has a satin finished exterior gel coat that replaces the high-gloss composite exterior. Evergreen replaced additional composites with conventional materials throughout the coach to further reduce the cost.
  • Composite inner shell: EverGreen has retained its lightweight composite inner shell on the Ever-Lite select that resist rot, mold, and mildew inside. The shell also lowers off-gassing of VOCs for a healthier camping experience.
  • Vacuum laminated construction: EverGreen’s vacuum laminated construction is bonded onto a fully welded and reinforced aluminum frame. The combination of the composite inner shell, high-density block foam, and vacuum lamination result in added durability and higher R-values.
  • Deep-slide models: Deeper, 42-inch slide outs are above the wheel well to provide higher ground clearance on seven deep-slide models in the Ever-Lite Select series. Six-inches deeper than traditional slides, deep slides provide residential living space. Slides are driven in all four corners with EverGreen’s quality, four-point, gear-driven system to provide smoother operation and a tighter seal.

The Ever-Lite Select still incorporates high-tech composites, vacuum-laminated to a welded aluminum frame in a seamless, one-piece system that eliminates flex and vibration—still a more durable trailer with a higher resale value—but priced to sell, the company said.


EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC was founded in December of 2008 with the premise that the recreational vehicle industry needed a new generation of innovative, sustainable, eco-friendly, green travel trailers and fifth wheels built like none before. The vision of EverGreen is to use sustainable eco-friendly, recyclable, composite materials to replace wood and produce higher quality, longer-lasting products that are fully equipped, yet lightweight.

EverGreen Recreational Vehicles LLC is the first RV manufacturer to achieve the TRA Certified Green Emerald Rating for its eco-friendly Ever-Litetravel trailers and fifth wheels.

Address: 10758 County Road 2, Middlebury, IN 46540

Phone: (574) 825-4298

Website: goevergreenrv.com

Worth Pondering…
Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than they expect to get.

—Nelson Boswell

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Adventurer introduces Class C Motorhome

La Grande, Oregon-based Adventurer LP (ALP), which acquired the assets of Eagle Cap Campers Inc. just one year ago, announced Thursday (November 24) they will expand the Eagle Cap brand into an all new Class C motorhome and will introduce it at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

ALP has been building Class C motorhomes since the mid ’80s for a rental fleet in the tough and rugged Canadian north where the requirements for a quality built unit to withstand those extremes, said Greg Tucknies, national sales manager.

“That, along with the constant use as a rental, has provided us with a unique perspective in Class C construction, insulation, and quality. We have been asked constantly why we don’t build a Class C for the retail market. Well, this year we are answering the call.”

The new Class C is loaded with many standard features including air conditioning, interior, and exterior LED lights, Dream Dinette, dinette seatbelts, the roomy “arc” style shower enclosure, full extension ball-bearing guide drawers, deep double bowl galley sinks, EZ-tire inflation system, sealed burner stove with oven, and a camper caddy storage system.

2012 Adventurer Eagle Class C motorhome (Credit: amlrv.com)

“When you add in the ALP exclusive TCC aluminum frame construction, 3-year structural warranty, enclosed, insulated and heated tanks, four-season insulated with thermal pane windows again all standard, you can see why we are excited to debut our new Eagle Cap Class C at Louisville,” said Tucknies.

Eagle Cap Class C motorhomes range in size from 19 to 31 feet with manufacturer’s suggested retail prices starting at $63,000.


Adventurer LP (ALP)

ALP has been a premium RV manufacturer since 1969. ALP’s reputation has been built on a commitment to customer satisfaction in the RV, camper, motorhome, and truck camper industry. Their team of manufacturing specialists is dedicated to ensuring excellence in all areas of design, engineering, construction, and assembly.

Factory Tours: During your tour of the ALP manufacturing facility in Yakima, Washington, you will see Adventurer & Eagle Cap products being assembled. Tours are available by appointment. Call for details.

2012 Eagle Cap 1165 truck camper interior (Credit: amlrv.com )

Address: 3303 West Washington Avenue, Yakima, Washington 98903

Phone: (509) 895-7064

Website: amlrv.com

Worth Pondering…

I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it, and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else—hard work—and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.

—Lucille Ball

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Heartland Introduces Torque Toy Haulers

Elkhart, Indiana-based Heartland RV LLC announced Tuesday (November 22) it will introduce its line of lightweight Torque toy haulers at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

Available in both travel trailer and mid-profile fifth-wheel floor plans, Heartland said Torque will give dealers “an all-new option in the very fast growing toy hauler segment.”

“Torque is like nothing else in the RV industry,” said General Manager AJ Jones in a news release. “When looking at the current trend in toy haulers, most companies are building units that are higher-priced with heavier GVWR’s. That means that most manufacturers are only competing for shelf space in the higher price points. Torque offers a completely new approach, specializing in lightweight, inexpensive toy haulers.”

Heartland said it has emerged as one of the top-selling toy hauler manufacturers this year with its Cyclone/Road Warrior brands, which had increased market share by nearly 22 percent in the U.S. and 45 percent in Canada through September, according to the company, citing Statistical Surveys Inc.

2012 Heartland Torque mid-profile fifth-wheel toy hauler. (Credit: heartlandrvs.com)

Initially, Torque will be offered in seven floor plans—three travel trailers and four mid-profile fifth-wheels—ranging in a variety of lengths and sizes.


Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC

Heartland is a leading manufacturer of towable recreational vehicles in the U.S. The Company markets over 16 brands of fifth wheel trailers, travel trailers, and toy haulers including Landmark, Big Horn, Big Country, Elk Ridge, Sundance, Greystone, North Trail, Prowler, Cyclone, Road Warrior, Wilderness, and Torque. Heartland is number three in market share in fifth wheels and closing in on being among the top five towable manufacturers of fifth wheels and travel trailers combined.

Heartland’s towable RVs are sold through an independent network of dealers throughout the United States and Canada. The Company has over 900 employees.

Heartland factory tours are conducted Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles, LLC is a division of Thor Industries Inc.

2012 Heartland Torque lightweight travel trailer toy hauler. (Credit: heartlandrvs.com)

Address: 1001 All-Pro Drive, Elkhart, Indiana 46514

Phone: (574) 262-5992 or (888) 262-5992

Website: heartlandrvs.com

Worth Pondering…

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

—Henry Ford

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Redwood RV Introduces Blackwood Fifth-Wheel

Syracuse, Indiana-based Redwood RV announced Tuesday (November 22) it will introduce the Blackwood fifth wheel line, at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

“The team at Redwood is excited to be expanding our product offering,” said Paul Craven, product manager for Redwood RV.

“With a strong demand from our current dealer base, we are taking the successful components of the Redwood story to the Blackwood fifth wheel. Large territories, zoned freight, level pricing, and MSRP advertising will be the cornerstone of this product.

“Our business philosophy is simple—the dealer is our customer and we’re developing products and programs to ensure their success and profitability,” Craven added.

Blackwood models range from 31 to 39 feet in length and are initially available in four floor plans, including a bunkhouse model.

“From a product standpoint, Blackwood leads the industry in fit and finish, and innovation,” said Tom Montague, general manager.

2012 Redwood RV Blackwood fifth-wheel trailer (Credit: redwood-rv.com)

“Highlighted by the most open user-friendly master bedroom in the industry, Blackwood offers the experienced RV buyer a coach that’s sure to exceed all expectations. From recreational users to weekenders, Blackwood is setting the new standard for excellence.”

Starting MSRP is around $60,000.


Redwood RV

Redwood RV manufactures full-time, luxury, residential fifth wheels.

Headquartered in Syracuse, Indiana Redwood RV products are distributed through dealers throughout the United States and Canada.

Redwood RV is a division of Thor Industries Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Address: 72440 St. Rd. 13, Syracuse, IN 46567

Phone: (574) 456-7800

Website: redwood-rv.com

Worth Pondering…

“Would have, could have, should have.” Famous words indeed.

It just brings us back to the old adage—we only regret those things we DIDN’T do.

So this weekend, make a promise to yourself that you will do what you’ve wanted to do.  Whether it’s going on that hike you’ve been talking about, taking that tour of the ice cream factory, or saying something you feel compelled to say…

We have no way of knowing when it’s too late, but one day it WILL be.

So…Just Do It!

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CrossRoads RV Introduces Elevation Toy Hauler

Topeka, Indiana-based CrossRoads RV announced Wednesday (November 23) it will introduce its newest line of travel trailer and fifth-wheel toy haulers, the Elevation, at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

Initially available in two travel trailer and three fifth-wheel floor plans with more planned, the Elevation features lightweight engineering and a sleek design that sets it apart from every other same old toy hauler in the market today, said Matt Thompson, general manager for the toy hauler division.

“The elevation has been a project driven by passion,” he explained. “Nearly everyone involved are riders of some sort from President Don Emahiser, Product Champion Kevin Combs, Vice President of Operations Dan Kreider, Production Manager Mike Cline and, yes, even me.”

2012 CrossRoad RVs Elevation toy hauler (Credit: crossroadsrv.com)

The 35-foot full-profile Elevation weighs just over 9,500 pounds and is equipped with triple slides, a bath-and-a-half, and 10-foot garage.

“I would like to thank Travis Pastrana, Kurt Nicoll and the rest of the Nitro Circus team for being so instrumental in the Elevation’s birth,” he added. “Where else can you find a full profile, 35-foot, triple slide with a bath and a half and a 10-foot garage, weighing just over 9,500 pounds?”


CrossRoads RV, Inc.

CrossRoads RV, Inc. was established in 1996 in Topeka, Indiana where the company currently has five plant locations and employs over 400 people.

Its products are distributed by dealers throughout the United States, Canada, France, Japan, and Australia.

CrossRoads RV manufactures a full line of towable RV products including fifth wheels, travel trailers, ultra-light trailers, and destination trailers under the brand names of Rushmore, Cruiser Patriot/Provincial, Cruiser, Cruiser Sahara, Cruiser Aire, Zinger, Zinger SE, Z-1, Sunset Trail, Slingshot, Elevation, and Hampton.

CrossRoads RV factory tours are conducted Monday through Thursday at 1:30 p.m. To arrange a tour, please call (888) 226-7496.

CrossRoads RV, Inc. is a division of Thor Industries Inc.

Address: 1115 W Lake Street, Topeka, Indiana, 46571

Phone: (260) 593-3850 or (888) 226-7496

Website: crossroadsrv.com

Worth Pondering…

Strive for perfection in everything you do.
Take the best that exists and make it better.
When it does not exist, design it.

—Sir Henry Royce

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Livin’ Lite Announces Camplite Short Bed Camper

Wakarusa, Indiana-based Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC announced Tuesday (November 22) it has expanded its Camplite truck camper line with a new 6.8 model designed specifically for short bed, half-ton trucks, and will introduce it at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

According to a news release, the new model is a self-contained unit with all the amenities of a much larger truck camper while still fitting into a 6-foot, 6-inch bed with no overhang. The 6.8 Camplite truck camper also includes a unique exterior garage area that can hold a small generator and a number of other tools and items on its hanging rack system.

Other introductions by Livin’ Lite RV scheduled for the National RV Trade Show include:

  • New “Orbit” profile on the popular Camplite travel trailer series, which combines a painted exterior metal to “form a one-of-a-kind exterior look” in an ultra-lightweight camper
  • Wood look interior package featuring Azdel composites—the cabinetry is still framed with welded, tubular aluminum and the cabinet doors are still made of aluminum, but the faces feature Azdel with a wood-grain pattern.
Livin’ Lite’s new short-bed Camplite truck camper. (Credit: livinlite.com)

President Scott Tuttle noted, “While our all-aluminum construction remains the foundation of our long-lasting, ultra-lightweight design, we have had some customers ask for a richer interior look that only wood can provide.”


Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles LLC

Livin’ Lite Recreational Vehicles manufactures modern-looking lightweight all-aluminum camping trailers, travel trailers, truck campers, and utility trailers under three brands: Quicksilver automotive tent camper line, Camplite enclosed travel trailer line, and the VRV camping/cargo trailer line.

Because the campers are so lightweight, they can be towed by even the smallest cars. Livin’ Lite’s Quicksilver camper was named Roaming Times’ Green RV of the year in 2008 for its energy-saving lightness, long-life all-aluminum construction, and completely formaldehyde-free construction.

Livin’ Lite was identified as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the U.S. in the September 2010 issue of Inc. magazine.

Address: P.O. Box 528, Wakarusa, IN 46573

Phone: (574) 862-2228

Website: livinlite.com

Worth Pondering…

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.

—John Burroughs

Remember these words when you get up in the morning and it will inspire you to make the most of each day.

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Dutchmen Introduces Komfort Front Lounge Fiver

Goshen, Indiana-based Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc. announced Tuesday (November 22) it will introduce a new Komfort fifth-wheel featuring a front lounge configuration at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

According to a news release, key features of the 3650FFL fifth-wheel include a 6-foot, 8-inch-tall ceiling height in the upper deck, two slide rooms that are six inches taller than traditional extensions, and an entertainment center with a fireplace.

“This is an expansive living area that you have to see to believe” said Rob Groover, general manager for Dutchmen’s Komfort and Infinity brands.

The 3650FFL fiver also features a standard 12-cubic-foot side-by-side refrigerator, hardwood cabinetry throughout, a king bed, and nearly four times the exterior storage versus the competition, according to Grover.

Komfort fifth-wheel with front lounge floor plan. (Credit: dutchmen.com)

“A lot of potential buyers have always wanted a front lounge floor plan,” said Groover. “However, they just couldn’t or didn’t want to spend the amount of money that these floor plans usually dictate. The 3650FFL is the most aggressively priced five-slide, front lounge floor plan in the industry. This opens up a whole new opportunity for our customers to enjoy all of the advantages of a front lounge without breaking the bank.”


Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc.

Since 1988, Dutchmen Manufacturing, Inc. has been a leader in the recreation vehicle industry.

Dutchmen RV produces various brands of towable recreational vehicles that are sold throughout the United States and Canada.

Dutchmen RV brands include the Denali, Komfort, Infinity, Aspen Trail, Kodiak, Voltage, Rubicon, Aerolite, Coleman, Four Winds, Grand Junction, Lakewood, and Dutchmen brands.

Dutchmen Manufacturing, Inc. is a Thor Industries, Inc. company.

Address: P.O. Box 2164, 2164 Caragana Court, Goshen, IN 46527

Phone: (574) 537-0600

Website: dutchmen.com

Worth Pondering…

I choose to live by Choice, not by chance; to make Changes, not excuses.
To be motivated, not manipulated; to be useful, not compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self-pity.
I choose to listen to my inner voice, not the random opinions of others.
—author unknown

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Thor Motor Coach Introduces 11 New Models

Elkhart, Indiana-based Thor Motor Coach, Inc. (TMC) announced Tuesday (November 22) it will introduce 11 new floor plans at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

According to a news release, TMC will showcase the all new Class B+ Citation 27SB, Challenger 37DT, and the Tuscany 45LT. These new floor plans have an abundance of upgrades demonstrating the significant push of product development being undertaken.

Class B+ Citation 27SB

The Citation 27SB is a fuel-efficient Class B-Plus-Style Class C motorhome.

Features include:

  • More exterior storage
  • Glazed cherry or maple cabinetry
  • Mega-Storage oversized exterior storage compartment
  • Onan RV MicroQuiet 4000-kilowatts generator
  • Patio plus entertainment package
  • 32-inch HD LCD TV
  • 30-inch residential microwave
  • Optional solid surface kitchen countertops
  • Over-sized 36-inch wide shower
  • Standard U-shaped dinette
2012 Citation 27SB interior (Credit: thormotorcoach.com)

Challenger 37DT

The Challenger 37DT is a roomy Class A gas motorhome.

Features include:

  • Large, roomy feel in every room due to the increased 82-inch ceiling height
  • 32-inch Sony LCD TV and home theater
  • Expandable sectional sofa maximizes seating and comfort
  • Premium Comfort-Fit by Villa furniture throughout
  • Side-hinged baggage doors provide easy access to the gigantic pass-though basement storage
  • Large U-shaped dinette
  • Roomy bathroom with double sink vanity
  • Plumbing for combo washer and dryer
  • Optional electric fireplace
2012 Challenger 37DT interior (Credit: thormotorcoach.com)

Tuscany 45LT

The Tuscany 45LT is a 45-foot, 450-hp tag axle diesel pusher.

Features include:

  • Smooth riding Freightliner chassis with 450-hp ISL Cummins Turbo Diesel with
  • 1250-foot-pounds of torque
  • Residential 12-inch-by-24-inch polished porcelain tile
  • Expandable sectional sofa maximizes seating and comfort
  • Premium Comfort-Fit by Villa furniture throughout
  • All new redesigned Euro-styled dash
  • Dual vanity master rear bath
  • 40-inch HD Sony LCD TV and home theater
  • Hand crafted, solid wood entertainment cabinet with built-in fireplace
  • Optional stackable washer and dryer

“The future is really bright, and we are working diligently to bring products to market that our dealers and customers demand,” said Dana Simon, Vice President of Sales at Thor Motor Coach. “We are committed to spending the time and resources to provide the most innovative motorhomes here at Thor Motor Coach.”


Thor Motor Coach, Inc.

Thor Motor Coach is a subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, the world’s largest manufacturer of recreational vehicles.

Thor Motor Coach was formed when Damon Motor Coach and Four Winds International strategically merged in late 2010. For over 23 years Damon and Four Winds have been building many of the most recognized brands of motorhomes.

2012 Tuscany 45LT dash (Credit: thormotorcoach.com)

Thor Motor Coach manufactures Class A Front Engine Diesel motorhomes (Serrano and Avanti), Class A Diesel Pusher motorhomes (Astoria and Tuscany), Class A Gas motorhomes (A.C.E., Hurricane, Daybreak, Windsport, Challenger, and Outlaw), Class C motorhomes (Four Winds, Chateau, Siesta, Siesta Sprinter, Citation, and Citation Sprinter)

Factory Tours

Thor Motor Coach conducts factory tours Monday through Thursdays at 3:00 p.m. EST; no appointment is necessary. For more information about tours, call (574) 584-3655.

Address: 701 County Road 15, Elkhart, Indiana 46516

Phone: (800) 860-5658

Website: thormotorcoach.com

Worth Pondering…

I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
—Eartha Kitt

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Forest River Introduces Luxury Aviator Travel Trailer

Elkhart, Indiana-based Forest River Inc. announced Wednesday (November 23) it will introduce its new luxury Aviator travel trailer, at the 49th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that runs from November 29 to December 1 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC).

Forest River reports that its all-new luxury Aviator travel trailer is a culmination of new concepts and design ideas.

“When we sat down to design the Aviator over a year and a half ago, we wanted to bring to market a luxury travel trailer that would revolutionize this industry. Low maintenance, customer friendliness and a unique look were the criteria we used in developing this product,” says Kevin McArt, general manager for the new Aviator.

“Some of the notable exterior features are the aerodynamic front cap with integrated windshield, contoured composite sidewalls, and maintenance free fiberglass roof.”

The Aviator doesn’t include any wood, according to the Forest River news release.

“Not only is the absence of wood material a strong environmental commitment, but the implementation of aluminum and composite materials add higher strength tolerances and are impermeable to moisture,” McArt said.

Aviator is also the first RV unit in any segment to introduce Smart Technology. The base of the system is an incredibly powerful Sony tablet computer.

“We’ve assembled a system of familiar components that, when combined together, deliver unparalleled access to information, entertainment, and ease-of-use for our customers,” said Cody Schade, regional sales manager for the new product.

2012 Forest River Aviator travel trailer exterior. (Credit: forestriverinc.com)

“Mobile Onboard Smart Technology (MOST) allows our customer to share a direct service link not only with the dealer network but also with Forest River. It provides a personal, interactive guide including how-to videos and tutorials, troubleshooting, and any question a customer may encounter on set-up, appliances, and many other unique Aviator features.”

“The result,” the Aviator team said, “is a more confident and educated customer, which results in fewer service situations and less maintenance at the dealer level.”


Forest River, Inc.

Elkhart, Indiana-based Forest River, Inc. was founded by Peter Liegl in 1996, which today makes all classes of recreational vehicles, cargo trailers, utility trailer, pontoon boats, light and medium-duty buses (primarily shuttle buses), portable offices, and structures to use for temporary schools.

The company operates 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the Mid West and West Coast and employs 5,400 workers.

Forest River currently manufactures motorhomes (Berkshire, Charleston, Forester, Georgetown, Lexington, Sunseeker, and Tsunami), travel trailers and fifth wheels (Cardinal, Cedar Creek, Cherokee, Day Dreamer, Flagstaff, r-pod, Rockwood, Salem, Sandpiper, Shamrock, Sierra, Surveyor, V-Cross, Wildcat, and Wildwood), park models (Kabana, Quailridge, and Summitt), and modular and hud homes (Sterling and Hart Homes).

Prime Time Manufacturing is a division of Forest River, Inc. and manufactures a full line of towable RV products including travel trailers, fifth wheels, and ultra-light travel trailers in Wakarusa, Indiana. Prime Time offers towable recreation vehicles under the brand names of Avenger, Crusader, LaCrosse, Sanibel, and Tracer. The company was formed in September 2009.

Forest River, Inc. is a Berkshire Hathaway company.

Website: forestriverinc.com

Worth Pondering…

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

—George Bernard Shaw

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Drought Impacts Texas State Park Revenue

Lakes, rivers, stock ponds, and other waterways haven’t been the only things evaporating in the relentless, record-setting Texas heat. Revenue streams fueling state parks and funding fisheries and wildlife management programs have slowed significantly, as park visitation dropped and fishing and hunting license sales declined, the Houston Chronicle recently reported.

Park revenue, generated through entrance and use fees such as those charged for overnight camping, for the fiscal year that ended August 31 was about $1.2 million less than the previous year and already is about $2 million behind projections for the current fiscal year, said Gene McCarty, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) deputy executive director for operations.

Normally, state parks generate about $38 million a year in user-fee revenue.

Revenue from sales of hunting and fishing licenses for the current fiscal year is down almost 5 percent ($2.5 million) compared with the same period the previous year, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Fishing licenses, especially freshwater licenses, account for the largest drop in sales.

“Freshwater licenses are down 17-20 percent,” McCarty said. Freshwater license sales had been down as much as 30 percent just a couple of months ago.

Camping in the "lost pines" at Bastrop State Park, prior to the fire. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“It’s pretty clear that the drop in freshwater licenses is directly tied to the drought,” McCarty said. Water levels in lakes across the state have dropped so low many boat ramps are unusable, making access a problem on many lakes. And those low water levels have exposed sand bars, rocks, stumps, and other potential obstructions that can make it dangerous for boaters trying to navigate the desiccated lakes.

The less-than-inviting boating conditions also have manifested themselves in a 2.5 percent decline in revenue from boat registrations.

Low water levels combined with the hot summer and destructive wildfires sent park visitation numbers through the floor.

“We really saw a drop-off in overnight stays,” McCarty said

Uncomfortably hot temperatures kept some campers away, and a ban on open fire preventing park users from enjoying campfires or using charcoal grills made parks less attractive.

Almost all of the most popular state parks are on rivers or reservoirs, and visitation at those sites dwindled as water levels fell.

“Parks with water-based recreation were most impacted,” McCarty said.

August visitation was particularly lower than normal. Garner State Park on the Frio River and Pedernales Falls State Park on the Pedernales River, two of the most popular parks in the state system, saw their August revenue drop by almost 40 percent. Guadalupe River State Park had a 60 percent decline in revenue compared with the previous August.

Almost 50 parks had August revenue declines of more than 20 percent, and overall revenue for the parks system dropped 24 percent.

Three popular state parks—Possum Kingdom, Davis Mountains, and Bastrop—were scorched by wildfires this past year. Those fires, which burned more than 8,500 acres of parkland, resulted in almost $350,000 in lost revenue and millions in damages.

Bastrop State Park suffered the biggest blow, with 96 percent of the park’s 6,000 acres incinerated by a fire that started September 4 and burned 33,500 acres in the Lost Pines region. Initial estimates set the cost of fire damage to the park and associated state park infrastructure at $8.5 million.

Guadalupe River State Park had a 60 percent decline in revenue compared with the previous August. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

TPWD is working to reopen parts of Bastrop State Park in early December but must spend as much as $600,000 just to remove fire-killed trees that pose safety concerns along the park roads, McCarty said.

The loss of visitor-generated revenue and the expenses associated with wildfires adds to already considerable economic challenges facing the state park system. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature reduced TPWD’s biennial budget by almost 21 percent (about $150 million), triggering staff reductions and cutbacks in services across all agency divisions, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The agency stands to lose even more if it doesn’t meet revenue projections set this past spring, before the drought and wildfires took a toll on park visitation. Under terms of the appropriations bill passed by the Legislature, if TPWD fails to meet its state park revenue goals, the agency could lose 60 park staffers and have to further reduce services at parks.

Bring On the Rain

“If we don’t get rain by spring, when people start thinking about camping and getting back into water-based recreation, things could get really bad,” McCarty said.

Worth Pondering…
I love Texas because Texas is future-oriented, because Texans think anything is possible. Texans think big.

—Phil Gramm

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