State Parks Feel the Pinch

Recession forces states to cut park funding, but stimulus bill could keep some open—for now

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While national parks get all the attention, state parks often offer similar wilderness charms—sometimes right in your backyard. But the massive economic crisis has trickled down to state budgets, and parks are rarely at the top of the priority list. Lack of funding threatens to shutter public access at over 69 state parks and historic sites across the country.

But because of public outcry, governors and state officials are groping for funds to keep state parks open, and in some cases, they’re scraping off the top of the federal stimulus package. Florida governor Charlie Crist kept 19 threatened sites in Florida open by using some of the $12 billion his state has received from the stimulus.

The Governator (that’d be Arnold schwarzenegger) floated the idea of closing 48 parks to save the state budget, but when Californians rallied in protest, he instead chose to raise fees by a small amount. State park managers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Kansas, Georgia, Nevada, Michigan, Arizona, and Hawaii are all struggling to come up with ideas to keep recreation areas open.

If you’ve got a favorite state park, now would be the time to pony up some spare change in hopes of keeping it alive. But times are hard for everyone, so if you’re out of spare change, show your support by penning an ode to your favorite state park in the comments section below.

We’ll start: In Boulder, we’re lucky enough to have the mighty Eldorado Canyon State Park not 15 minutes away. With high mountain views, world-class sport and trad climbing routes, and steep trails, we know it owns. We love you Eldo!!

—Ted Alvarez

State parks on endangered list may be preserved for a price (AP)

Image Credit: Jebb

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