Many U.S. State Parks in ‘Precarious’ Position
The nation’s 7,975 state parks sit in a precarious position with shortened seasons, new admissions fees and threatened closures brought on by budget turmoil in recent years, the Kansas City Star reported.
They also face mushrooming backlogs of repairs ranging from $26 million in Kansas to $750 million in Illinois to more than $1 billion in California. Park supporters estimate Missouri’s park repair needs at about $400 million.
“It has reached a point where Band-Aids and baling wire are just not quite enough,” said Steve Nagle, Missouri Parks Association president.
In tight budget times, lawmakers regularly put off park upkeep as they scramble to find enough money for basic government services.
“It’s really not a good picture right now,” said Margaret Walls, senior fellow for Resources for the Future, an energy and environmental policy think tank.
States have been gradually getting out of the business of bankrolling parks since the 1990s, sometimes cutting costs or replacing general tax dollars with new fees or dedicated taxes that are less vulnerable to the whimsy of legislators.
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