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County OKs diver fee increase

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Other rates unchanged at KP Hole

By Jeff Bryan

Divers will have to dig deeper if they wish to enjoy the serene waters of the Rainbow River or plan to access the spring-fed wonder at KP Hole.

That’s because a year after doubling fees for tubers, the County Commission in December approved tripling the fees for divers, from $5 to $15. Devil’s Den and the Blue Gratto, both in Williston charges divers a $38 and $44 fee, respectively, if they have their own personal equipment.

Fees are reviewed annually, according to county spokeswoman Stacie Causey, noting the fee for tubers was reviewed before being increased from $5 to $10 per person prior to the 2018 tubing season.

“The annual review of fees aims to keep our facilities and programs consistent with regional pricing while offsetting operational costs,” she explained.

Raising the fees for divers, she added, wasn’t done haphazardly.

“With input from KP Hole staff and research of local, comparable dive spots, we discovered that our fee for divers was way below what divers are paying within the region,” Causey said. “Divers and dive boat operators also tend to occupy the park for a much longer period, sometimes tying up parking spaces and use of the boat ramp/staging area for hours.”

But the increase in fees for divers doesn’t sit well with Randy Lewis, who often provides guided tours for area dive shops. Lewis stressed he was speaking for only himself and not the business owners. He said the increases are discriminatory pricing and will have a negative impact on dive operations who book tours up to a year in advance.

“It’s a good deal compared to other places,” Lewis said, noting he and many others planned to contact the State Attorney General’s office in regard to the price hike.

Lewis lamented that prices weren’t increased for everyone across the board, and said it could have a negative impact on those who have heard the Rainbow River is a “great dive.”

But as Causey pointed out, that while the new rates are in place, the Marion County Parks and Recreation team is working with dive shops with existing contracts, just as it does with each commission-approved rate change.

“The new rate will be enacted on new contracts and pricing will be consistent as soon as possible,” she added.

KP Hole Park Fees

* Park day use entry fee: $5 per person.

* Diver fee: $15 per person.

Tubing

* Tubing package, including park entry fee, tube rental and return shuttle service: $25 per person.

* Personal tubing, includes park entry fee: $10 per person.

* Personal tubing return shuttle service: $7 per person.

Paddle craft rental and return shuttle package

* Single kayak: $35.

* Double kayak: $45.

* Canoe: $45.

* Paddleboard: $45.

Paddle craft rental upriver package

* Single kayak: $8 per hour.

* Double kayak: $10 per hour.

* Canoe: $8 per hour.

* Paddleboard: $10 per hour.

Vessel launch

* Motorized vessel: $20 per vessel.

* Paddle craft: $5 per person.

Shuttle fee for personal paddle craft

* Single kayak and one person return: $15.

* Double kayak and two person return: $20.

* Canoe and up to three person return: $20.

* Paddleboard and one person return: $15.

* Additional person return: $7 per person.