In keeping with the theme from earlier today, I wanted to point out an article that was posted on Trailspace.com yesterday.
Due to mounting dept and financial stress, states are beginning to close parks, reduce services, or increase fees at several state parks around the country. The article noted the following:
* Arizona has been forced to close five state parks and reduce days of operation at four others.
* Forty-one state parks and 14 historic sites in New York would not open this summer under Gov. David Paterson's budget-cutting proposal. The parks are in limbo until state lawmakers agree on a budget for 2010-11. Click here for a list of proposed closures.
* The Idaho state government threatened widespread closures, but relented after funding was found to keep the parks open this year, albeit with reduced services and seasonal closings at some parks.
* California is eking by with higher fees, seasonal closures, and deferred maintenance, but a proposed ballot initiative that would raise car registrations by $18 (and allow all state residents to attend parks for a fee) could come to the rescue.
* New York, Colorado and Oregon have resorted to increases in camping and entrance fees.
Back in February I warned that out-of-control spending by our government - at all levels - could threaten the viability of our parks. Apparently I was right much quicker than I anticipated.
Right now, spending at the Federal level, as well as that of many states, is on a collision course with disaster. One doesn't need to look much further than Greece, Portugal or Spain to understand the ramifications of what an overwhelming amount of debt can do to an economy. Check out this one article on the situation in Europe. Here's a quote:
"some say that the very future of the euro project hangs in the balance"
Greece is in a very serious predicament right now. The country's debt as a share of GDP is 113%. America's is roughly 63% - a post WWII record. The Congressional Budget Office forecats that it will reach 90% by 2020 under the latest budget proposals.
I'm not saying that the United States' situation is as bad as some of the countries in Europe right now, however, we are clearly going down the same path that they've already blazed.
Which brings me back to our local, state and national parks. In a debt crisis, these budget line items will be much too easy to reach the chopping block. As we've already seen, more parks will be closed, or there will be reduced services and/or increased fees. As I pointed out in my February article, it's not too hard to imagine that someday federal and state governments could be forced into making radical changes to our parks. Is it possible that "unproductive" parks could be sold to private organizations in order to help pay down the debt? Maybe the National Park Service or state parks could end up selling or leasing park lands for the building of lodges, condos or golf courses. What about corporate sponsorship of parks? Can you imagine: "The Cades Cove Loop brought to you by McDonald's"!
Folks, we the people of the United States need to take back our country from the career politicians that are only in it for themselves.
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