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State park closures grab headlines

2:29 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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This thread is for comments on the article "State park closures grab headlines"

State parks face a double bind when the economy slows: more customers and less money to serve them. We look at how parks are weathering the recession, and what it means for parks visits in the summer of 2010.

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2010/04/27/state-parks-closures.html

5:40 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I think sometimes people don't stop to realize how many small businesses depend on these parks staying open and attracting folks. Even if it's just a small Mom & Pop general store.

The parks help drive the local economy especially in the areas I have visited.


This particular store we visited is not near a State Park I don't think, but these types of stores, outfitters, guide services, hotels, and restaurants, have slowly built them selves up in large part due to the visitors these parks draw.

While I personally prefer more remote areas to backpack in, these parks are very important.

It's not just about a bunch of nature lovers having a place to frolic.

6:39 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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In Maine the economic impact of state parks is valued at $100 million.

http://www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/index.html

There are a lot of businesses and outfitters who benefit from the state parks.

7:20 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I do very love state parks but if it came to closing state parks or something important like the Department of Licensing I think we all agree which would have to be closed... The Dept. of Licensing for sure!

8:58 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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State parks work just fine without state employees. It is a public area and should remain open. Visitors should make sure to clean up after themselves. Pack out your trash!

The question should be "Is the state park the propriety of the state?" I don't think it is. They may be managing it for the people but, if for overspending, they cannot do it anymore, we will need to get civilian volunteers to do the job.

I expect we will see a lot more state and federal managed projects going broke. I don't think they should all just close down. Years of fiat money shouldn't be allowed to bring the country to a standstill.

It also shouldn't be used to raise more fees or taxes on the people. We didn't mismanage their funds.

10:43 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I found out today that North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment in the early 1970s which stated that access to parks is a fundamental right of the state's citizens. This is why there's no entrance fee in NC parks.

11:28 p.m. on April 27, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks Tom, I didn't know that.

10:43 a.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Wow I did not know that about NC either.

Instead of closing the parks off completely, would it not be a better idea to make them a wilderness areas. This would take less money to maintain and would still benifit local businesses. I mean if they are closed off and no one is allowed in than outside moneys will not be there either.

12:26 p.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Instead of closing the parks off completely, would it not be a better idea to make them a wilderness areas.

Might work if pot growers or other criminal elements didn't have such a thirst for remote, unwatched territory.

Other problem is nature's tendency to reclaim trails -- if the park presumably would reopen in better days, somebody'd have to go in and reopen all the trails.

Another practical issue that New York is facing: states that accept federal water conservation funds are obliged to keep the parks they support open in perpetuity. Close the park and you lose that funding.

4:26 p.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Ok, I understand the federal funding part but just to play the devil's advocate, if they shut down the parks, are they still maintaining trails?

5:38 p.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Hmmm....I think if any particular State Park has front country camping with amenities, you know, power, water, showers, and toilets....short maintained trails, picnic tables, etc. those things draw a different (and bigger?) crowd than a wilderness area. If you shut down the State Park you will have to shut down the front country amenities if no one is there daily to clean up and maintain those facilities. You simply can not rely on front country campers to do that.

So without the Parks front country capability many people would probably choose to go somewhere else and the drop in attendance would have an economic impact I would think.

Many front country campers tend to go into town to shop, eat out, go see local attractions, etc. then come back to the Park to hang out and "camp".

I would also add that with a few members of this 'front country group' some form of law enforcement is needed. At least that has been my experience.

11:33 p.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Much of the trail maintenance in the Calif state parks is done by volunteers, in particular the California Trail Days organization. In addition, many user groups do volunteer trail maintenance, such as the Sierra Club, the various orienteering clubs around the state, and scout organizations.

At the same time, as Tom M notes, we have a huge amount of agricultural activity in remote areas of national, state, and county parks, enough so that it is estimated that it is by far the largest cash crop in the state, and maybe the largest industry. Because of that, the enforcement activity has stayed at a high level in the parks which have closed either completely or are only open a few days a month.

5:55 a.m. on May 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Something’s wrong with this picture-not enough money to clean the toilets, but plenty to erect real slick looking closure signs. I don't know what they are putting in the coffee in Arizona, but given the amount of revenue generated by tourism, they seem intent on cutting off their nose to spite their face.

Per California
Tom, Jim or anyone with the knowledge hereof: does anyone have the link to the Ca DMV fee initiativepetition? I’d like to add my name, but haven’t seen the petition in my home town.

The whole idea of closing our state parks is crazy. A huge part of the economy depends on national and state park tourism. Heck they might as well close Hwy 395 (the main access highway to the east side of the Sierras, and main route from LA to Lake Tahoe) since it maintenance costs a very tidy sum too. But why stop there. Ok I digress.

Bill S. touches on one way we could remediate much of our budgetary woe, stop wasting money on the War on Drugs. This effort has cost a huge amount of money, yet the whole concept has seemed to backfire. Carlton Turner, appointed by President Regan in 1982 as the first Drug Czar admitted this much in a 1988 white paper. (He subsequently “resigned.”) His logic was iron clad. We (the US) have vigorously engaged the enemy yet the battle was lost even before the first shot was fired. Any war, including the drug war, is essentially a battle of economics, as much as it is a battle of brute force. Every dollar the US tax payer is willing to spend battling this scourge, the drug syndicates are willing to match 100 to 1, outspending and overwhelming our efforts. Hence the outcome of a frontal assault is predestined to doom. He concluded if we are ever to be effective fighting drug related crime, it would be by eliminating the profit motive, through legalization, regulation, and taxation of these contraband. Turner drew in depth comparisons to the war on drugs and prohibition. But ideology won over rational thought. So here were are today, spending huge sums of money to arrest, prosecute, and warehouse convicted drug offenders. The effort has diverted funds that could have been better spent on education or infrastructure, or just lower taxes. Now the war on drugs competes with the state park system to hire drug enforcement personnel over park services personnel. Talk about Reefer Madness, I think our policy makers have gotten a contact high from some bad paraquot laced weed (paraquot spraying - that’s another story). But again I digress, and don’t mean to hijack this park closure thread.

In conclusion we can very much afford our parks, but special interests and the acrimonious political climate has foes ready and willing to cut off Joe Public’s nose, despite his face, just to prove a point.

Tom, thanks for the article, well written.
Ed

6:28 a.m. on May 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Ed: organizers of the initiative drive have already turned over signatures on their petition drive ... now it's up to county election registrars to confirm them ... this is the last hurdle before the issue goes on the November ballot.

9:09 a.m. on May 1, 2010 (EDT)
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The war on drugs is winnable, the problem is that most Americans do not have the stomach for what it would take, and most of those in places of power are not going to prosecute the worst offenders, some who are members of law enforcement or members of local governments who turn a blind eye to the big drug players. Oh sure every once in a while they make some traffic stops or raid a house.

It has been my experience in the Southern Appalachians that the entire community knows who the big players are, including law enforcement.

In fact there was a case in KY where a law enforcement officer was living in a known drug house providing protection to the drug dealer.

I'm just saying it only takes a few bad apples to undermine the whole effort.

I personally would not waste tax payer money locking these guys up.

I would execute them.

5:13 p.m. on May 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Okay, just so I don't get hate mail, I'm only referring to the hard core big time guys in my post above.

Back on topic though, One of my favorite State Parks in SC is Caesar's Head State Park.

Here is a photo of one of it's overlooks:

Many people will go to a park like this that is semi developed, and staffed, that may not feel comfortable going to a Wilderness area, or a State Natural Area. I think it is good to have them visit, the experience of standing there taking it all in gives them a connection to the place and hopefully all wild places. We need their understanding and support in order to preserve the wilderness.

10:32 p.m. on May 1, 2010 (EDT)
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The drug war is not winnable. There is a drug store on almost every street corner of America. Anyway it doesn't say no drugs in the constitution. I am for getting rid of the DEA and starting a campaign "Just because your free and it's legal doesn't mean you should do it!" I expect it would make the country a lot in tax revenues. It would take away all the incentive for the war in Mexico overnight. There will always be people that do them anyway. I don't think they are criminals just for doing drugs.

If we followed idea. I would be able to grow some industrial hemp and make some of the products they enjoy in Europe. We can import these products but we cannot make them. I think that is wrong.


Back to the topic of State park closures. There are a lot of people that would love three square meals a day and a place to stay and are willing to work. It is called wwoofing. I would get some wwoofers and put them to work maintaining the state parks. They could even provide food for themselves because they know how to grow food. Just an idea.

10:51 p.m. on May 1, 2010 (EDT)
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Trailspace has some of the internets best 'get back on topic ' posters I've seen! I like how it works.


Anyway, I hope none of them State Parks closes.

3:29 p.m. on May 3, 2010 (EDT)
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I found out today that North Carolina passed a constitutional amendment in the early 1970s which stated that access to parks is a fundamental right of the state's citizens. This is why there's no entrance fee in NC parks.


I live in NC and I hadn't known that but that I couldn't agree with it more!


It's really sad to see some states resorting to closures. I'm hoping NC isn't considering them. The interesting thing I've noticed in the last couple months is that some of the state parks in NC I've visited have actually had some significant improvements. I was at Stone Mountain this weekend (great hike btw) and I noticed that the Stone Mountain road is newly paved. Hanging Rock a couple weekends before that has a very new well maintained greeting center and a couple of the trail heads had new construction. Last month I hit Raven Rock and there is a brand new welcome center, parking lots, and such. I suspect that some of these improvements are stimulus funding from the federal government but in this case I won't complain too much about those federal dollars.

Generally speaking though I would hope that states who do consider closing the parks take NC's approach that its a fundamental right and alternatively look to volunteers to keep some of the core park services alive and mothball other service until things get better. Also they should recognize that parks offer a bit of stimulus of their own by generating revenue for surrounding businesses for folks who aren't looking to take the kids to Disney World but can still afford to spend a nice day at the park and spend a few dollars.

My Two Cents.

Josh

8:20 a.m. on May 10, 2010 (EDT)
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STOP SUBSIDIZING THE PARKS WITH TAXES.

I say ELIMINATE ALL THE PAID PARK EMPLOYEES.

OPEN THE GATES AND LET THE PARKS GO WILD!

Allow private donations to fix individual parks and services as needed by park users.

Allow Fish and Game Wardens to collect fees for the license to hunt, fish, and camp on park lands.

Some parks could pay for themselves with the user fees and that is fine. Let the rest go back to their natural state with hunting, fishing and camping by permit holders.

It's just that easy! Just say NO to more TAXES.

3:54 p.m. on May 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Tax revenue spent on recreational infrastructure does not go down a rathole -- it's an investment that generates extremely favorable returns. Not that much different from justifying the cost of a highway between two cities when the commerce between them will pay it back several times over.

Not to say every tax dollar is spent wisely on parks, but most are very cheap to operate and many rural communities get tourism revenue they'd have no other way to acquire.

I can understand the temptation to let the parks go wild; my main concern is how you'd prevent drunks, drug runners, and reckless ATV types from trashing them.

5:43 p.m. on May 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I have to agree with tommangan here.

I would also point out that not everyone is born a highly skilled backpacker. Many people seek a place to take their family camping in a setting that provides certain amenities, and a staff that can offer advise or guidance. Their experiences with nature in a semi-primitive setting (front country camping) can lead to more adventurous visits to back country areas as they gain interest and skill. I have seen this happen many times.

7:09 a.m. on May 11, 2010 (EDT)
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STOP SUBSIDIZING THE PARKS WITH TAXES.

I say ELIMINATE ALL THE PAID PARK EMPLOYEES.

OPEN THE GATES AND LET THE PARKS GO WILD!

Let the parks go “wild,” and the access roads, trails, and infrastructure we take for granted will go to hell. Someone cleans and pumps those outhouses, maintains trail bridge crossings, puts out rogue wildfires, deals with human beast conflicts, and evacuates outdoorsmen in distress. The general public does not have the sense of individual responsibility to clean up after themselves, let alone refrain from graffiting every surface within reach; otherwise there would be no need for service employees to clean up camp sites, and repair trail damage. While volunteers contribute considerable to these efforts, they are not trained to use specialized equipment necessary for many of these tasks.

Private donations will not cover these expenses. This is one aspect of coexisting in a society where the libertarian notion of pay-as-you-go doesn’t work. A significant amount of maintaining state and national parks is financed floating long term debt, a feat very difficult to do when the ability to repay the loan is based solely on charity.
Ed

4:20 a.m. on May 14, 2010 (EDT)
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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100513/ap_on_re_us/failed_drug_war
Gee, perhaps if we redirected a few trillion tax dollars, we could actually get something back in return, like our parks. We are closing schools for lack of budgetary depth, but building more jails. The State can’t afford parks for the people’s amusement, yet can readily afford telling how they cannot amuse themselves, and policing these very parks to preclude “alternative uses”.

I am ambivalent on the whole notion of controlling substances; I thought we learned during prohibition how futile this can be, if not what the negative social consequences are, when we attempt to police what amounts to personal lifestyle choices, when a black market profit motive makes some people willing to risk their lives to cash in on the opportunities of meeting consumer demands.

While proponents rankle at the notion the War On Drugs is unsuccessful, I think it goes without saying we all would lose our jobs if our effectiveness in our chosen professions was as dismal. While some think of this as a moral issue, I have come to see it as the big business of selling uniforms, guns, cell blocks, patrol cars, and yes, drugs. (Let’s not forget it is also a huge government work program that keep tens of thousands of enforcement personnel and defense attorneys gainfully employed.) It’s all about the money, baby. But not for the parks.
Ed

4:23 p.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Is this a thread about state park closures or advocating the end of the war on drugs? Just asking, of course.

9:25 p.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
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Is this a thread about state park closures or advocating the end of the war on drugs? Just asking, of course.

I can't speak for others, but my jab at the WODs herein was a statement to say our society will fund what it feels is important, even if they fail to obtain a return on this investment, and even it is at the expense of funding other programs with certain, substantive, benefits, like the parks programs. It just gravels me to hear the pundits of small government talk out of one side of their mouth, telling us government can’t afford tax revenue for parks, meanwhile promoting a huge program out of the other side of their mouth that even the heads thereof admit has totally failed to ever deliver the goods. This is dysfunctional by definition.

Ed

10:53 p.m. on May 24, 2010 (EDT)
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"We the people"... too bad "our" voice is not heard echoing off the mountain tops all the way to Congress...

When I was a child it was called bribery... now they call it Lobbying...

Just a thought...

April 24, 2014
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