Across the Country, State Parks under Pressure

Numerous state parks across the country face closure

From Washington to Florida and New York to Idaho, state budgets are reeling from a combination of reduced property and sales tax revenue. Numerous state parks are already on the chopping block, in an effort to reduce budgets with minimal impact to union jobs and social services.

“The reality is the governor has ordered cuts in programs that do not directly affect the health and welfare of people.” — Chuck Ardo, press secretary for Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, from The York Daily Record.

The potential park closures come at a particularly tough time for many people who are planning to save money in 2009 with a family vacation to one of their state parks, in lieu of more expensive destinations. State parks offer the public all of the outdoor recreational benefits of their better-known national park cousins, but with lower fees and more affordable travel expenses – important considerations for families squeezed by the current economic conditions.

These potential park closures are an important consideration for families making summer vacation plans next month. The typical reservation window for parks is six months, but with the future of many parks still in jeopardy, people should have backup plans in case their park is closed. Reservations could be important, though, as fewer choices combined with more families trying to save money, could mean increased competition for the state parks that survive.

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7 thoughts on “Across the Country, State Parks under Pressure

  1. I was in the process of writing a similar article about park closures being proposed in Georgia and Florida.

    I think it is also important for hikers, campers, etc.. to realize how much of a need there will be for volunteers to help maintain the parks that are able to stay open.

    If we don’t help out this year, we may see more park closures next year. The economy may not be getting better anytime soon. This would also be a great opportunity to teach kids the importance of giving back as well. Outdoorsmen have to step up here and help out the parks we use so often. Check our your state park websites for opportunities to volunteer. – Justin’s last blog post..State Parks get cut in the Economy

  2. This is a very thought-provoking article! Other than the link referenced in your post, have you seen other references made (to the states which are considering cuts in addition to Penn.)? Another question would be if you’re aware of any activism being mounted in opposition to the proposals?


  3. while hiking in Prince William Forrest in Va. this fall, my wife and I noticed an unusually large amount of deadfall over the trail. This was all from a strong storm that had occurred during the spring, and hadn’t been cleared out yet.

    It wasn’t enough to stop us, though we did have go get off trail or go over or under fallen trees.

    I’m familiar with this in more remote sections of the A.T., but it was the first time I had seen a State Park with trails in such disrepair. I explained it to myself as a growing indication of our culture of “indoor” entertainment and falling fee collections.

    I’ve got to tell ya Rob, if people are already not going out, and the parks are suffering as a consequence, then I will be waiting for the day when the economy keeps them out of the trains, planes and cars for their long distance vacations, and gets them into the parks and natural area’s or our country, where their petrol dollars will be better spent on the protection of our Natural Spaces.

    Thanks for another great article.


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  4. Sad. Well, then may I suggest a follow-up article that you partially discussed? What’s the non-campground camping you spoke of earlier and how do you set that up? What about private land? Does anyone allow camping on private land?