Division of Natural Resources
Parks and Recreation Section

Has Not Hired Lodge/Resort Administrator

Visitation to the Parks by Management has Improved

Has Standardizes and Complete Inspection Reports

Internal Controls Governing Revenues Has Improved

Performance Evaluation and Research Division
Building 1, Room W-314
State Capitol Complex

(304) 347-4890

January 1999

Issue Area 1: Parks System needs to Operate its Lodges on a more Business like Basis

In the 1996 report the Legislative Auditor's Office found that the parks system needed to operate more like a business. The lodge parks occupancy had low winter occupancy rates which resulted in operational losses during the winter months. Marketing plans to attract hunters and fishermen and provide additional winter activities was one way of decreasing the winter months operational losses. The goal was to assist the parks to achieve the National Travel Data Research, Inc. national average of 67-70 percent occupancy rate. The recommendations were as follows:

Recommendation 1:

The Director of DNR should assign all resort and lodge parks to a single administrator. This administrator should have both an educational and employment background in resort/hotel/management.

Level of Compliance: Planned Compliance

Lodge Parks District Administrator Has Not Been Selected

The parks system has not officially hired a district administrator that meets the criteria established in the 1996 report. The parks system administration did not recruit individuals for the position until this year. The position has been posted by Parks and they have narrowed their choice down to two candidates. The educational background and experience of the posting for the position does comply with the recommendation.

The revenues for lodge parks has not changed in the past three years. The lack of a district administrator with hotel\motel experience is a contributing factor why the parks have not increased their self sufficiency in this period. Table 2 denotes actual lodge revenues.

4 Year Comparison of Potential Revenues
To Actual Room Revenues of Park Lodges

FY 1995
FY 1995
Maximum Revenue

FY 1995 Actual

FY 1998

FY 1997 Actual

FY 1996 Actual
Blackwater Falls$1,16 8,971$899,3 60$578,8 51$562,0 56$556,5 58$562,7 62
Cacapon$953,8 66$663,5 34$504,7 19$524,5 82$493,6 21$467,7 72
Hawks Nest$621,9 60$514,8 33$380,1 95$353,1 58$369,1 85$356,0 24
North Bend$558,5 71$414,9 32$229,3 29$210,4 66$226,4 76$212,8 78
Pipestem$3,17 7,690$2,06 3,162$2,07 4,742$2,22 9,762$2,15 2,802$2,07 1,630
Twin Falls$395,6 60$321,6 75$221,6 94$192,6 05$203,4 32$222,3 92
Tygart Lake$372,3 00$260,6 10$103,1 45$105,8 31$100,5 41$101,5 51
Total$7,24 9,018$5,07 4,313$4,10 1,672$4,17 8,460$4,10 2,615$3,99 5,009
% Increase/ Decrease in Revenues from 1995




The following table is a follow up to Table 2 of the 1996 report to show occupancy rates since the performance review of the Lodges.

State Park Lodges Occupancy Rates Fiscal Years 1990-1998


Individual Lodges
Blackwater FallsCacapo n
North BendPipest em
Twin Falls

Recommendation 2:

The Director of DNR should require the Parks system administrator for resorts and lodges to determine what infrastructure needs at the resorts and lodge parks should be developed to increase the occupancy rate during winter months.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

A "West Virginia State Park and Recreation System Facility Profile, Needs and Potential" manual was produced in 1991 and was intended to cover a five year span. This manual breaks down the current status of state parks, forests and wildlife areas plus plans for further development of each. Although this manual is dated, the Parks system knows its need for an updated version and has kept infrastructure needs in focus.

A lodge expansion feasibility study was completed for Pipestem in 1997, a Master plan for Cass Scenic Railroad was completed in 1997 and a facilities expansion study was done for Cacapon State Park. The $49,000,000 in bond proceeds have been put to use at different sites; the following, Table 4, provides a list of resorts and lodges that received infrastructure improvements:

Resort and Lodge Infrastructure Projects
Blackwater FallsAccessible Cabin$130,000.00
Blackwater FallsCabin Sewage Treatment Plant Replacement200,000.00
Blackwater FallsLake Bathhouse Replacement125,000.00
Cacapon Resort2 Accessible Cabins260,000.00
Cacapon ResortConference Center1,650,000.0 0
Canaan Valley ResortWater Wells50,000.00
Pipestem ResortAccessible Cabin130,000.00
Pipestem ResortConference Center2,000,000.0 0
Pipestem ResortGolf Course Irrigation System300,000.00
Pipestem ResortWater Line Extension to PSD300,000.00
Stonewall Jackson LakeLodge, Conference Center, Golf Course10,000,000. 00
Twin Falls ResortWater System Connection to PSD400,000.00
Twin Falls ResortAccessible Cabin130,000.00
Tygart Lake Accessible Cabin130,000.00
Tygart Lake Lodge Elevator200,000.00
Tygart Lake Lodge Sewage Treatment Plant Replacement200,000.00
Total$16,205,0 00.00

Recommendation 3:

The Director of DNR should require the Parks System administrator for resorts and lodges to develop an overall strategic business plan for the Parks System's resorts and lodges. This plan should include an individual marketing plan for each resort and lodge park.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

The Parks Division has created a "1998 Strategic Marketing Plan"and had a "WV State Parks Plan" prepared by the marketing firm Doe Anderson Advertising after the 1996 evaluation by the Legislative Auditor. The State Parks System has developed an Internet Site for visitors to receive information on the sites and how to contact WV State Parks. The strategic plan has eight sections to explain what the State Parks goals are, strategy to achieve the goals and the results of a 1996 customer survey. The Parks plan denotes the performance measures used to determine the effectiveness of their strategies. Based on Park's revenues, the strategic marketing plan has not shown an effect yet. This may also be attributed to not hiring a lodge/resort administrator.

Recommendation 4:

The Director of DNR should require the Parks System to begin aggressively marketing its lodges and resorts to hunters and fisherman. This should include considering: a) DNR establishing temporary game checking stations at the parks; b) lodge restaurants having an early breakfast at 4:00 a.m. during hunting season; c) lodges should offer special rate hunting packages; d) building game storage facilities on park premises, but away from the lodges; e) training lodge employees in the hunting opportunity in the areas surrounding their individual park; and, f) DNR offering hunting seminars and classes, on subjects such as deer tracking and turkey calling, at the Parks System's lodges.

Level of Compliance: Partial Compliance

The Parks System had a "Sportsmen Special" for the past two years which allows for a 20% discount on lodging for anyone with a valid WV hunting or fishing license. The special is advertised statewide and nationwide in magazines. The advertisements appear November 30, through May 20. This period coincides with the Deer (Bucks Only) Season and virtually all seasons except Bear (Archery) Season and Wild Boar (Gun) Season. West Virginia Trout fishing is also popular during this same time period of the year. In addition to the special, there are also special events that are growing which are "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" administered by the Wildlife Section of DNR and a "Beginners Fly Fishing Package" at Cacapon Resort State Park.

The marketing for hunters and fisherman though does not include any amenities available to them other than the discount. If a hunter or fisherman is shopping for his next hunting or fishing trip he may choose the private hunting lodges or fishing lodges located throughout WV because they advertise their available options such as pre dawn breakfasts, guides and meat preparation. The Parks System may help the current occupancy rates during off seasons by including these amenities especially for the out of state market.

Recommendation 5:

The Parks System should immediately modify its policy of not paying travel agents the standard industry fee for making reservations for guests.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

The parks system established a 10% commission to all licensed and bonded travel agents who make bookings for lodge rooms in all state park lodges in July, 1996. There is also a commission available for travel agents on cabin rentals from November through March.

Recommendation 6:

The Legislature should consider changing statutory law to specifically allow the Parks System to pay its employees who work at Resort/Lodge Parks on a partial incentive pay basis. If such legislation is adopted, the Director of DNR should immediately see that an incentive pay plan is developed for the staff at all resort and lodge parks. Such a plan should pay all of the individual park's employees a significant bonus whenever monthly occupancy rates exceed the previous year's rate.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

The Chief of Parks has completed a proposal dated May 14, 1998 for an incentive package which gives superintendents and assistants 10% of their total annual salary, not to exceed 10% of the actual dollar value to the state of the improvement in financial performance. On August 20, 1998, the State Personnel Board approved the proposal as a pilot program for one year. It became effective July 1, 1998 with the understanding that the agency fully evaluate the program and make a status report on the program to the Board.

Issue Area 2: The Chief, Deputy Chief and District Administrators have managed the Parks system by monthly reports and few site inspections

The analysis of travel by top management showed little direct management in the field. Instead, management by the superintendents to the Acting Chief of Parks has been used. Moreover, seven parks were not visited in fiscal year 1995.

Recommendation 7:

The Chief and Deputy Chief should be required to visit each park at least once per year with additional visits to the parks that have decreasing self-sufficiency rates or have a low consumer satisfaction percentage, which can be ascertained from the quarterly reports and consumer comment card summary reports. Following the consolidation of administrative functions, the current parks' management structure should have more time to provide on-site technical assistance and guidance to all parks.

Level of Compliance: Non Compliance

The Chief and Deputy Chief have increased their visits to the parks; However, each park was not visited by the Chief and Deputy Chief. Based on travel records and memos, 55% of the parks or 28 of the parks did not receive a visit by the Acting Chief or Deputy Chief. The visits by the Chief and Deputy Chief were generally for grievances, legislative tours or business at hand regarding the site. The Acting Chief visited approximately 10% of the parks in the past 2 years; 9 visits at 4 parks in 1998 and 6 visits at 5 parks in 1997. The Deputy Chief showed improvement on park visits by visiting 25% of the parks in the past two years; 24 visits at14 parks in 1998 and 15 visits at 14 parks in 1997. Table 5 below shows the past 2 years of park visits.

Park Visits For Acting Chief and Deputy Chief
Parks In System1998 Parks Visited1998 Parks Not Visited1997 Parks Visited 1997 Parks Not Visited
Acting Chief49445544
Deputy Chief4914351435

In addition to the Chief of Parks and Deputy Chief, the District Administrators have increased their site visits. The three district administrators visited all of the 49 parks each year in past 2 years. Table 6 summarizes the site visits by fiscal year.

District Administrators Summary of Site Visits 1997 Through June 1998

Fiscal Year
District Administrator 1 District Administrator 2 District Administrator 3

Recommendation 8:

The Chief should be required to provide a quarterly summary of park activities to the DNR Director. The information to be provided in this report should be determined by the Director of DNR.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

The Chief has completed quarterly summaries of parks activities based on monthly reports submitted by the Parks. The reports to the Director of DNR summarizes the work performed, new items built or refurbished, occupancy rates and financial information from the 49 parks. Also the summary denotes what factors are increasing or decreasing attendance and how its effects the parks as a whole.

Issue Area 3: Parks has failed to Standardize or Complete Inspection Reports

The district administrators in 1996 did not complete field inspection reports for site visits. The inspection reports provides management with information for completing the quarterly summary to the Director of DNR, provides the park superintendent with instrument to correct shortcomings in the park, provides documentation that the district administrators are performing their duties as assigned and provides a document to used on the next site visit.

Recommendation 9:

The Director of DNR should establish and implement standardized reporting procedures for on-site visits by all district administrators. The Director should also require that each park be inspected at least quarterly by the district administrators. Reports should be summarized quarterly, detailing what problems were found and what actions had been taken to remedy problems encountered during previous site inspections. These reports should be submitted to the Chief of Parks in a timely manner. Summaries should also include travel time and expenses incurred for inspections.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

The District Administrators now use standard "Site Inspection Reports" during their visits to various facilities. The inspection reports must also be completed for one facility only; there were some reports which had multiple facilities included on them. Not all parks have been inspected each quarter as recommended.

Issue Area 4: Internal Controls Governing Revenues are Weak and the Sparse Field Inspections create a Weakly Controlled Revenue Environment with Potential Loss of Assets

The parks system is a semi-revenue driven system. The 1996 transfer of the parks system from Tourism to the Department of Natural Resources found weaknesses in the various forms and reports prepared by the parks. DNR conducted in-house audits and revealed that a written manual for accounting policies and procedures did not exist.

Recommendation 10:

The Director of DNR should adopt accounting procedures and managerial procedures which should be compiled in an operations manual. The manual should also provide standardized forms and reports, in addition to guidelines for District Administrators to recognize possible illegal acts and the course of action to be administered. A course for reporting findings should be defined in the manual.

Level of Compliance: Partial Compliance

The accounting procedures were discussed with members of DNR accounting section and it was determined that this was being implemented. The Legislative Auditor's Office is in receipt of the first draft of the accounting procedures but the draft has limited managerial procedures sections. The accounting procedures detail the collection procedures for different revenues, handling of returned checks, revenue and consumer sales tax refunds. There are also empty sections on weekly revenue reports, forms and weekly revenue reports. The manual is incomplete but if completed will comply with the aspect of the accounting procedures recommendation and partially comply with the managerial procedures.

Recommendation 11:

The Director of DNR should conduct a cost/benefit analysis of employing an internal auditing staff or contracting with a CPA firm and if implemented, consider what role the district administrators should play in the internal audit function. If DAs are to be retained, additional training is needed to assist them in identifying circumstances warranting corrective action.

Level of Compliance: In Compliance

An accounting firm was hired to review accounting procedures and make recommendations for improving controls on revenues and time reporting. There were three audits recently completed with several recommendations, but there was apprehension among the superintendents regarding available personnel to implement these recommendations within the responses to the audits. These recommendations by the CPA firm were included in the Parks accounting controls and procedures handbook to a degree. These recommendations included virtually every phase of significant revenue collection and reconciliation of financial records; separation of duties, limiting access to cash or receipt tickets, weekly reconciliation, use of a cash register, developing an accounting procedures manual, surprise audits, opening of mail, better documentation from vendors under concessionaire agreements and daily deposits were the majority of recommendations The reports also recommended time keeping procedures for park employees such as signing their time sheets. There were variations to the actual recommendations such as not doing daily deposits due to logistical expenses and separation of duties due to limited employees.

It was noted that the administration of the Department of Natural Resources wishes to not continue the contract with a CPA firm. This was due to the fact that the internal auditors were more in touch with the system's capabilities.