Don't cut back on state parks

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2002

So tell me, moms and dads, when you get tight on money, do you close down the back yard and tell the kids they can't play on the swing? Your kids would think you went bonkers. How about you school administrators; if your budget gets tight, do you close down the playground, board up the play equipment, and cancel recess?

But that's what our elected "moms and dads" in the Legislature just might do. They are in a budget crisis, so one way they propose to fix that is by cutting the user fees collected by the state parks system, thus forcing the closure of many state parks. How can that help fix the problem?

Our state parks are supported in part by fees paid by park users. These fees help pay the operating expenses for management and maintenance. Many citizen volunteers also contribute their free labor to keep the parks open, maintained and safe. How do our legislators think that they can save money and improve life for Alaskans by closing parks and cutting back 20 percent of user fee receipts? Our wonderful state parks system was built over the years by many dedicated Alaskans. Closing these playgrounds to our Alaska families and visitors will not fix our budget problems or improve our quality of life. Once they are closed, boarded up, and unmanaged, they will fall to vandalism, trash and decay. Sound right to you?

There is a way to cut the general fund budget while keeping our state parks open for Alaska families and our visitors. Some far-sighted legislators want to keep the state parks budget intact, and allow state parks to roll the user fees they collect into a budget category called "receipt supported services" to support the parks and keep them open. This sounds like wise parenting, and is supported by the state parks management and citizen volunteers.

If you like to play in your state parks, tell your legislators to keep them open. Closing our state parks is bonkers!

Craig Moore

Juneau Area State Parks Advisory Board

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