Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Parks are cut, but thankfully they are still open

The Raleigh News & Observer/Charlotte Observer (they're essentially the same now, after all) has a nice piece on the impact of the state budget on the state parks. It is significant. Thankfully, the parks are still open and essentially free to visit, though some fees (camping, for example) went up.

"As states struggle with deficits, the nation's parks are under siege. California will close 70 of its 278 parks. Washington state withdrew all its state support. Ohio plans to allow oil and gas drilling in its parks," says the article.

No North Carolina parks or recreation areas are expected to close. But visitors will pay more to camp, swim or picnic, because of fee increases. They'll find fewer rangers and more peeling paint.

"You can only nail, hammer and paint so much," said Shederick Mole, superintendent of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area in Chatham County. ...

As the state park budget is reduced over the next few years, less money will be available for parks to renovate and remodel existing buildings. ...

Legislators diverted $8.4 million from the trust, which gets income from real estate excise taxes, to help balance the state budget. They also took an additional $6 million for park operations. ...

A recent study from N.C. State University found that the cost of installing and staffing fee stations would offset the revenue from a fee. The study also predicted that visits would fall, hurting the parks' $400 million annual contribution to local economies.

Click here for the rest of the article.

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