MATTAWAMKEAG, Maine — The town-owned Mattawamkeag Wilderness Park Campground will open for its 34th season Friday, and Selectman Joe Grant hopes the recession, and the improvements made to the park, will draw more people to it than ever before.
“They say that with the recession more people are having ‘staycations,’ so maybe we will see more there than ever before,” Grant said Sunday.
Thanks to the stewardship of park managers Peter and Doris Born, the park’s revenues nearly doubled between 2007 and 2008, said Grant and John Whitehouse, Wilderness Park Advisory Board chairman and a former town selectman.
“It helps the town because we are not subsidizing the park,” Grant said. “There were a few years where the town subsidized losses from the park.”
“They really cater to the people that are there,” Whitehouse said of the Borns. “They make everybody feel at home. They go so far that if somebody is having a hard time backing a camper into a space, they will go and do it for them.”
Built in 1974, the park was first leased and run by Penobscot County, then by the Friends of the Wilderness Park, a private organization, until 1996. The town has operated it since. The park draws about 250 campers annually. Partially because of changing managers, it had lost money for several years, including about $10,000 in 2006.
The park features many outdoor activities, including fishing in the Mattawamkeag River, 15 miles of hiking trails, and several more miles of ATV trails. It also has a resident bald eagle that draws attention from wildlife enthusiasts.
The Borns, who did not immediately return messages left Sunday, have worked steadily to improve the park since becoming its managers in 2006. This year they will be adding electricity service to four more campsites, for a total of 11 sites with electricity and water and six with electricity, water and sewer.
“The feeling is that people would rather have more full-service camping than no water and no electric. They are not so inclined to rough it any more,” Grant said.
The park has 50 camping sites, including 11 Adirondack shelters, according to its Web site, mwpark.com.
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WHO: Mattawamkeag Wilderness Park Campground
WHAT: A town-owned campground featuring 50 campsites
WHERE: Wilderness Park Road, two miles east of Route 2, in Mattawamkeag
WHEN: Opening Friday, May 22, until October
FOR MORE INFO: Visit mwpark.com or telephone 888-724-2465