Nearly half a million snowbirds are expected to descend on Sunbelt RV parks this winter, many of which are owned by Equity LifeStyle Properties.
Nothing unusual there. ELS is the largest owner and operator of RV resorts in the Sunbelt, with roughly 100 of its 170 properties being located in some of the most sought after vacation destinations in California, Arizona, Texas, Florida and the Carolinas, according to a news release.
But while ELS is best known for its resort-like amenities, which include sparkling swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, concerts and other live entertainment, the company is also hoping to gain market recognition for finding an environmentally friendly way to treat RV holding tank waste.
This fall, ELS is introducing snowbirds to Nature-ZYME, its private label RV and marine holding tank product manufactured by BiOWish Technologies, a Chicago-based company that has established itself as a world leader in the creation of fast-acting, environmentally friendly wastewater treatment products.
In addition to providing every guest with information on Nature-ZYME when they check in, ELS representatives are discussing the product – and the problems associated with formaldehyde and other chemical-based holding tank treatment products – at mini seminars and informal gatherings.
The fundamental problem with chemical based holding tank products, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is that they disrupt the natural biological processes that break down human waste in septic and other wastewater treatment systems.
The California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds sponsored a bill earlier this year with nearly unanimous support from the state legislature that would have banned the sale of RV holding tank products with formaldehyde and other chemicals.
While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, campground operators in California and other states are stepping up their efforts to educate consumers about the hazards associated with using chemical-based holding thank products.
“When chemicals, such as formaldehyde, are added to septic systems, they can cause bacteria in the system to die,” the EPA wrote in a July 1999 alert to consumers and park operators. “When this happens, the septic system cannot treat waste adequately. Solids that are allowed to pass from the septic tank, due to inadequate or incomplete treatment, may clog the leachfield. Furthermore, clogged systems may send inadequately or incompletely treated sewage to the surface, threatening the health of people or pets who come into contact with it. Or it may percolate to ground water, where the chemicals and untreated wastewater could contaminate nearby drinking water wells, rivers and streams.”
Nature-ZYME, however, is an enzyme based product that does not contain any microbial inhibitors or suffocants. “It is truly organic and biodegradable,” said David Kozy, vice president and director of operations of RV, Home & Marine Solutions, the ELS subsidiary that is marketing the Nature-ZYME holding tank treatment product.
“We really think we have identified a solution to one of the most challenging environmental problems in the RV and marine industries,” he said, adding that RVers and ELS resort operators have been quietly testing this product for months in a wide range of temperatures and weather conditions and have been amazed at its performance.
RVers, for their part, say they have been impressed with Nature-ZYME’s performance.
- Dave Morgen, a 69-year-old Kentucky resident and part-time RV tour director, said he tried Nature-ZYME on multiple RV trips in July, August, September and October, including one six-week trip. “It seems to break down everything a lot better than the chemical products,” he said, adding that he never used an environmentally friendly RV holding tank product before.
- Bob and Roxanne Camron of Paso Robles, Calif., also used Nature-ZYME during a recent 10-day trip from California to Santa Fe, N.M., and were pleased with the results. “It performed better than previous products in that no odor was detected at all,” Bob Camron said.
Kozy said ELS found an environmentally friendly solution for wastewater treatment when an outside consultant suggested the company use an enzyme-based treatment products to improve the performance of the company’s septic tanks and wastewater treatment systems. “We found that the product worked so well that we asked BiOWIsh Technologies if they could produce a product that would work for the RV and marine industries,” Kozy said. “We subsequently obtained the licensing rights to market the product as Nature-ZYME in the U.S.”
ELS expects to personally introduce Nature-ZYME to hundreds of thousands of RV enthusiasts as they visit ELS resorts in the Sunbelt and across the country during the coming year, Kozy said. For more information on Nature-ZYME, please visit www.Nature-Zyme.com.
Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties is a publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns and operates RV resorts and manufactured home communities throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Thousand Trails, America finest membership camping and home of the Zone Camping Pass. For more information on ELS and its subsidiaries, please visit www.equitylifestyle.com andwww.thousandtrails.com.
ELS owns and operates RV resorts in the following Sunbelt communities:
- Apollo Village RV Resort, Peoria
- Araby Acres RV Resort, Yuma
- Cactus Gardens RV Resort, Yuma
- Capri RV Resort, Yuma
- Casa del Sol Resort West, Peoria
- Casita Verde RV Resort, Casa Grande
- Central Park RV Resort, Phoenix
- Countryside RV Resort, Apache Junction
- Desert Paradise RV Resort, Yuma
- Desert Vista RV Resort, Salome
- Fairview Manor, Tucson
- Fiesta Grande RV Resort, Casa Grande
- Foothill Village RV Resort, Yuma
- • Foothills West RV Resort, Casa Grande
- Golden Sun RV Resort, Apache Junction
- Mesa Verde RV Resort, Yuma
- Monte Vista Village RV Resort, Mesa
- Palm Shadows RV Resort, Glendale
- Paradise RV Resort, Sun City
- Seyenna Vistas RV Resort, Mesa
- Suni Sands RV Resort, Yuma
- Sunrise Heights RV Resort, Phoenix
- Valley Verde RV Resort, Cottonwood
- Valley Vista RV Resort, Benson
- Viewpoint RV Resort, Mesa
- Voyager RV Resort, Tucson
- Whispering Palms RV Resort, Phoenix
- Morgan Hill RV Resort, Morgan Hill
- Oakzanita Springs RV Resort, Descanso
- Pacific Dunes RV Resort, Oceano
- Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort, Cathedral City
- Palm Springs RV Resort, Palm Desert
- Pio Pico RV Resort, Jamul
- Rancho Oso RV Resort, Santa Barbara
- San Benito RV Resort, Paicines
- Santa Cruz Ranch RV Resort, Scotts Valley
- San Francisco RV Resort, Pacifica
- Soledad Canyon RV Resort, Acton
- Turtle Beach RV Resort, Manteca
- Wilderness Lakes RV Resort, Menifee
- Barrington Hills RV Resort, Hudson
- Breezy Hill RV Resort, Pompano Beach
- Bulow RV Resort, Flagler Beach
- Clerbrook Golf and RV Resort, Clermont
- Crystal Isles RV Resort, Crystal River
- Fort Myers Beach RV Resort, Fort Myers
- Gulf Air RV Resort, Fort Myers Beach
- Gulfview RV Resort, Punta Gorda
- Harbor Lakes RV Resort, Port Charlotte
- Highland Wood RV Resort, Pompano Beach
- Lake Magic RV Resort, Clermont
- Orlando RV Resort, Clermont
- Peace River RV Resort, Wauchula
- Pine Island RV Resort, St. James City
- Pioneer Village RV Resort, North Fort Myers
- Ramblers Rest RV Resort, Venice
- Royal Coachman RV Resort, Nokomis
- Sherwood Forest RV Resort, Kissimmee
- Silver Dollar RV Resort, Odessa
- Southern Palms RV Resort, Eustis
- Sunshine Holiday Daytona RV Resort, Daytona Beach
- Sunshine Holiday MHCC RV Resort, Fort Lauderdale
- Sunshine Key RV Resort and Marina, Big Pine Key
- Sunshine Travel RV Resort, Vero Beach
- Terra Ceia Village RV Resort, Palmetto
- Three Flags RV Resort, Wildwood
- Tobys RV Resort, Arcadia
- Topics RV Resort, Spring Hill
- Vacation Village RV Resort, Largo
- Winter Garden RV Resort, Winter Garden
- Winter Quarters Manatee RV Resort, Bradenton
- Winter Quarters Pasco RV Resort, Lutz
- Forest Lake RV Resort, Advance
- Goose Creek RV Resort, Newport
- Green Mountain Park RV Resort, Lenoir
- Lake Gaston RV Resort, Littleton
- Lake Myers RV Resort, Mocksville
- Scenic RV Resort, Asheville
- Twin Lakes RV Resort, Chocowinity
- Waterway RV Resort, Swansboro
- Carolina Landing RV Resort, Fair Play
- The Oaks at Point South RV Resort, Yemassee
- Bay Landing RV Resort, Bridgeport
- Colorado River RV Resort, Columbus
- Country Sunshine RV Resort, Weslaco
- Fun N Sun RV Resort, San Benito
- Lake Conroe RV Resort, Willis
- Lake Tawakoni RV Resort, Point
- Lake Texoma RV Resort, Gordonville
- Lake Whitney RV Resort, Whitney
- Lakewood RV Resort, Harlingen
- Medina Lake RV Resort, Lakehills
- Paradise Park RV Resort, Harlingen
- Paradise South RV Resort, Mercedes
- Southern Comfort RV Resort, Weslaco
- Tropic Winds RV Resort, Harlingen
Closing California’s state parks to help balance the financially strapped state’s budget would do little to help the $24 billion shortfall and could harm the privately owned RV parks and campgrounds in the Golden State.
So says the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (CalARVC) which is lobbying state legislators to find a compromise to the closures, according to Debbie Sipe, CalARVC executive director.
CalARVC board members met late last week and discussed the state’s financial crisis. While it took no formal vote on the budget crisis, the sentiment was “we are opposed to the closures,” she said.
“Even though it could be a boom to many of our members, we are worried about the potential backlash” to the 370 CalARVC member parks, she said.
If state parks are closed, the public might wrongly assume that private parks are closed too, she said.
And from a service point of view, “We don’t think we could absorb the full influx of campers out there,” she added.
CalARVC member parks offer approximately 44,000 campsites, but that would fall short of the camping demand if most of the state’s 279 state parks and campgrounds were closed, she said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest proposal to tackle the state’s $24.3 billion shortfall includes the elimination of all general fund contributions to California’s 279 parks within two years.
It is a nightmare scenario that would mean the public could be barred from visiting 223 parks – that’s 80% of the state-owned parks, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“That’s just horrendous,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the California State Parks Foundation. “It could impact these environmental and cultural resources for decades and decades.”
The proposal already has been subject to intense lobbying in the Legislature. Between now and July 1, when the fiscal year starts, the state parks would be asked to cut $70 million of the $150 million the park system receives from the state’s general fund in fiscal year 2009-10. The remainder would be cut out in the 2010-11 budget.
Eliminating state contributions, most of which go toward paying staff, would mean maintenance workers, office technicians, park superintendents, landscapers, rangers, environmental scientists, administrative officers and bookkeepers would have to be laid off. Camping, boating and day use fees would also have to be raised, said Roy Stearns, the parks spokesman.
CalARVC members are working with the California Travel Industry Association in lobbying efforts to swing state legislators to some type of compromise that would keep parks open, at least part time, Sipe said.
Goldstein’s group is heading up the lobbying effort.
The lobbying effort already has brought out some 110 state park “advocates” to a budget hearing last week, Sipe noted. Sixty of them testified at the hearing.
In addition, 36,000 people have sent 100,000 letters and e-mails to the governor and state legislature in support of keeping parks open.
Lobbyists are asking the director of state parks to put together a task force to recommend a compromise, Sipe said.
“No matter what,” Sipe sid, “even if state parks stay open, they’ll get a good hatchet job on their budgets.”
The task force “needs to look at creative ways to keep state parks open,” she said, perhaps closing for a few days in mid-week and cutting back on winter hours.
“The pressure to get this done is very intense,” Sipe stressed, as the state has no budget past June 30 and begins to run out of money on that date.
Drastic cuts are necessary, the governor said, because of the slipping economy, declining revenues and a deficit that deepened after voters rejected five budget measures designed to help close the gap. Goldstein argued, however, that the savings derived from cutting the parks out of the budget would amount to 0.26% of the $24.3 billion budget gap.
“It’s a very, very tiny portion of the financial need, but the impacts would be draconian to say the least,” Goldstein said. “Not only is this bad for people who are relying on state parks more than they ever have for recreation and vacation, but it is also bad for the communities surrounding these parks.”
Stearns said 79.6 million people visited state parks last year. A huge number of reservations for campgrounds have already been made throughout the summer and into November, he said. Analysts estimate park visitors spend roughly $2.6 billion a year in and around the parks.
Goldstein said for every dollar spent, the state parks generate $2.35 in tax revenue from economic activity in the local communities surrounding the parks. That means the state could potentially see a reduction in revenue by closing the parks.
That’s not even counting the loss of day-use fees and the cost of patrolling the closed parks to make sure arsonists, vandals, transients, hunters and marijuana growers don’t move in, she said.