15 state parks could close in less than a month - FOX10 News | WALA

15 state parks could close in less than a month

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MOBILE, AL (WALA) -
Just in time for summer vacation season, Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein told FOX10 News he's regrettably putting 15 state parks on the chopping block. 

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will lose $11.4 million in funds by May 1st, if Governor Robert Bentley's tax increase package proposal is not passed. 

Of that $11.4 million, $10.4 million would be cut from the state park system.  

"We've had to announce that we are in the middle of developing contingency plans for closure of several parks in our system as a result of the proposed 2016 legislative budget," said Lein. 

Lein said 15 state parks will be forced to close by May 1 if the legislature does not compromise with Bentley, and the others that remain open, will lose staffing and funding. 

The following state parks will be closed:

Bladon Springs

Chickasaw 

Buck's Pocket 

Paul Grist 

Florala 

Blue Springs 

Roland Cooper 

Rickwood Caverns 

Cheaha 

Lake Lurleen 

DeSoto 

Lakepoint 

Guntersville 

Joe Wheeler 

Frank Jackson 

The parks to be kept open are:

Meaher 

Wind Creek 

Chewacla 

Monte Sano 

Cathedral Caverns 

Oak Mountain 

Gulf State Park


"It absolutely is frustrating and I believe they're willing to do it because they've taken our funding for four straight years, and that's why we are taking this all so seriously, and because of the previous trend as far as the last four years, we've run out of any reserve fund that can cushion this sort of financial blow," explained Lein. 

Lein said the best way to help save the state parks is to go visit them and enjoy what the parks have to offer. He also encourages park lovers to take their concerns to local legislators. 

Below is the full statement Lein released on Wednesday, April 15: 

"Recently we were notified of the legislatures' intent to transfer $11.4 million of funds from the 2016 Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) budget. The majority of these funds are to be transferred from ADCNR ($10.4 million) would come from the State Parks system. In anticipation of this loss in revenue, on May 1, 2015, we will implement an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) that closes several of our parks and park operations across the state. On June 1, 2015 we will implement a second EOP that will reduce the staffing and operational hours of several other parks. These dramatic changes will no doubt have a direct impact to their local communities and ultimately hurt our state's economy.

The Governor has been working to address this chronic funding crisis of state government through a proposal to raise necessary funds. We encourage each of you to think about the two options being considered; the cuts and transfers proposed by the legislature that would close more than half our parks, or the plan proposed by the Governor. Please discuss this among your peers, family and local elected officials."



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