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Wyden demands federal review of Crater Lake concessionaire, cites poor maintenance; operator defends efforts

Crater Lake Lodge, which has been operated by Crater Lake Hospitality
National Park Service
Crater Lake Lodge, which has been operated by Crater Lake Hospitality

(Update: Statement from concessionaire)

WASHINGTON (KTVZ)-- Sen. Ron Wyden said Monday he is asking federal officials to act immediately to prevent concessionaire mismanagement from continuing to pose safety risks to Crater Lake National Park, its visitors, and the employees who live and work at this world-renowned natural treasure in southern Oregon.

“The annual concessionaire assessments paint a troubling picture of the concessionaire’s fulfillment of its important responsibilities at Crater Lake National Park over several years,” Wyden wrote in a letter to National Park Service Director Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III. “The National Park Service records make it clear that the concessionaire has continually failed to fulfill the requirements of the contract.”

In his letter, Wyden wrote that Aramark – doing business as Crater Lake Hospitality – has failed under its concessionaire contract with the National Park Service to perform contractually required maintenance and has created unsafe living conditions for staff. 

Wyden’s letter also cited diesel spills at contractor-managed facilities, malfunctioning fire alarm systems and unsatisfactory public health inspections. And it noted the lack of investment and deferred maintenance by the concessionaire has prevented progress on a number of maintenance and improvement projects that the National Park Service has approved. 

“After becoming aware of these issues, I directed my staff to conduct an in-person assessment of the conditions at facilities within Crater Lake National Park,” Wyden wrote. “The issues that staff observed during this visit have only served to solidify my understanding of the seriousness of the concessionaire’s failure to plan for and perform important regular maintenance, adequately train staff and address issues that directly threaten safety. “

“It was apparent to my staff that the dedicated National Park Service staff were spending hours of their time trying to manage the situation, are deeply concerned with the safety issues for guests and employees, and share our values of protecting the park,” he wrote. “I am grateful to the National Park Service staff for their dedication to our public lands. It is clear they have prevented the situation from becoming significantly worse through their efforts.

“Despite repeated and documented attempts by the National Park Service to secure performance, it is clear that little progress has been achieved to meaningfully resolve most of these serious issues,” Wyden wrote.

The entire letter is here.

A spokesperson for Aramark Destinations provided this response statement Tuesday to NewsChannel 21:

“We take these concerns very seriously, and the examples provided are not reflective of Aramark’s standards. We have been working on improvements to our operations at Crater Lake National Park with recent upgrades to cabins at Mazama Village, refreshed rooms at Crater Lake Lodge, renovations at the Rim Village Café & Gift Shop, and the delivery of new eco-friendly boats for scenic tours. Additional investments are planned to address other important aspects of our operations, and we will continue to work closely with the National Park Service to improve the staff and visitor experience.”

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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