Group Lobbies for Alabama's State Parks $$
A well-known environmental group is encouraging Alabama state parks supporters to speak out against a budget bill working its way through the Legislature, al.com reported.
Conservation Alabama says the bill, which has already passed the Senate, would slash $7.8 million from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' $159 million annual operating budget. That could mean layoffs of state park employees, reduced maintenance of trails and campground areas, and even closure of some state park facilities, said Conservation Alabama Executive Director Adam Snyder.
"The cuts they're talking about are in addition to about $12 million taken out of the state parks budget in the last two years," Snyder said Tuesday. "So we're really talking about a $20 million cut over a three-year period.
"Cutting the state parks is really detrimental for Alabamians who want to enjoy a close-by getaway that's fairly inexpensive."
A "Save Our State Parks" campaign launched by Conservation Alabama on Monday urges state park supporters to e-mail their concerns to state Rep. Jim Barton, chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee. Click here to read more about the "Save Our State Parks" effort.
More than 100 people contacted Barton and other House members about the budget bill in the first hours of the campaign, said Snyder.
State Parks Director Gregory Lein has written a letter saying that funding cuts by the Legislature, as well as the loss of revenue caused by the Gulf oil spill in 2010 and the tornado outbreak in April 2011, have prompted plans to consider closing facilities, reducing the work force and canceling maintenance and renovation projects.
"We will no longer be able to operate our parks system as we have over the last four decades," Lein wrote. His letter did not address specific cutbacks at any of the 22 parks.