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2 Ill. State Parks Lack Staff to Take Reservations

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Two east-central Illinois state parks, Walnut Point State Park north of Oakland and Lincoln Trail State Park south of Marshall, have temporarily stopped taking reservations for campsites due to a staffing shortage but are otherwise open for use.

The two state parks stopped taking reservations about a week ago, said Tom Hintz, who is site superintendent for both parks, the Journal Gazette and Times-Courier, Mattoon, reported. Hintz said he does not have the staffing available at this time time to handle reservations, adding that he is the only full-time employee available for both sites.

Hintz said reservations made before last week are still being honored, adding that Walnut Point already has some campsite reservations for the spring. He said Lincoln Trail does not have any reservations in place.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud said Walnut Point and Lincoln Trail, like other state parks, have been affected by the DNR’s land staff being reduced by 50% during the last 10 years due to state budget cuts.

McCloud said staffing, facility maintenance and other needs at Illinois state parks will receive a financial lift later in 2013 when the state starts to collect proceeds from a $2 increase in license plate fees that will generate an estimated $18 million to $22 million for natural resources usage.

Hintz previously served as site superintendent for Jubilee College State Park in Peoria and assumed superintendent duties at approximately 670-acre Walnut Point and approximately 1,000-acre Lincoln Trail on Nov. 1. Long-time site superintendents Randy Shafer, at Walnut Point, and Mike Sanders, at Lincoln Trail, have retired.

Both Walnut Point and Lincoln Trail are “gems” within the state park system and he intends to keep them that way, Hintz said.

The site superintendent said his goal is to keep these two campgrounds clean and well maintained in preparation for to use there to pick up in the spring.

Hintz added that entrepreneurs are being sought to operate the concession stands at Walnut Point and Lincoln Train during the 2013 season, and that the roof at the Walnut Point stand is set to be repaired this spring.

 

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