Lost in the seemingly endless analysis of the daily stock market gyrations and an economy in, or soon to be in, recession is the lingering impact of high fuel costs on the nation’s state and federal parks.
Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park both saw slumps in the number of visitors this year. State parks are also under pressure. Although visitor numbers at most state parks has been strong, funding is under pressure due to a reduction in state tax revenues due to depressed real estate valuations.
In January, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a budget that would close 48 state parks. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is proposing the closure of 11 state parks. Other states are proposing fee increases in an effort to make up projected budget shortfalls.
The sad truth is that when it comes to money, recreation is often one of the first budgets to get squeezed. Costs are up across the board and that means big-ticket items like education and public safety also need more money.
So what’s a happy camper to do? Be sure to keep in touch with your elected representatives at both the state and federal level. These folks rarely hear from “regular” people, so a pleasant letter highlighting your concern over state or federal park funding tends to leave a lasting impression.
Russ – John Soares has an update on California’s situation: http://tinyurl.com/m3jg3d
Does anyone have any updates on this topic? I understand that some stimulus money went to the national parks?
Yes, I think we dodged a bullet this next fiscal year – no doubt thanks to all the negative feedback that the Governator received, this summer. I’m worried about next year, though, since the full affects of the recession hasn’t hit the state government, yet.
Stacey – sorry I missed your post! My over-zealous spam filter grabbed it. I’m glad you like the blog, and I hope I can keep it interesting for everybody – welcome!
Roy, I just checked online and found out that none of the California state parks are closing down this year.
It was a close call, and I’m concerned because several of the parks slated for closure have hikes in my hiking guidebooks.
Next year’s budget could be a real bear for the parks.
I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.
that’s why I have a 19 gallon tank in my Jeep and cary an extra 10 gallons on that back rack. LOL.
Right on, Jim! I have heard of some problems with private contractors at some of the parks accepting Golden Pass, though – maybe that’s the 1/2 fee you’re talking about. Now if you could just get free gas – heh.
Roy, I don’t know if many vets know this or not, BUT, If you are 100% SC, you can get a Golden Pass for any National Park. It gets you and all the people in your vehicle in FREE. Some campsites charge 1/2 fee with that card. Vets who do camp and are 100% should check this out. You get the card at any National Park.
That’s true – I don’t know if I’m just noticing it more this year, or what, but it seems like a lot of road closures this year. Of course, the fires here in NorCal had a big affect too, and might have an even bigger affect if rains this winter lead to landslides. Several of our coastal state parks have been closed due to soil stability concerns 🙁
On the silvery side of the lining at least we don’t have to worry about the high impact on parks as much. I know a lot of roads were closed and cars limited due to their detrimental effect on the parks. Not a very bright silvery side, but it’s there if you look hard enough.