2013: Big Birthday, Big Budget Woes for WA State Parks
Brian Yearout – who heads the state employees' union local that represents the workers, says without that funding the predictions are grim, “…You can’t just close parks. It would have to be a combination of park closures, seasonal closures, campground closures and a reduction in services. The initial numbers they’re rolling out are between 40 and 70 parks would have to close.”
Yearout adds that State Parks boost local economies by attracting visitors, and also by using local workers for construction and maintenance. He says the State Park system maintains more than 700 historic structures as well as trail systems, campsites, and boat ramps. It will be up to the legislature to decide whether to accept the governor's recommendation.
The State Parks have gotten some funding from the Discover Pass, a user fee created in 2011 to replace revenue lost to budget cuts, but Yearout says it hasn't taken off the way they had hoped. The Parks receive 84 percent of the Discover Pass revenue. And there are now 17 "friends" groups that help with maintenance and fundraising for certain parks around the state. Volunteers already put in an estimated 280-thousand hours a year for the park system.
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