Missouri State Park System Falls on Hard Times

7 years 1 month 4 weeks ago May 25, 2010 May 25, 2010 Tuesday, May 25 2010 Tuesday, May 25, 2010 12:34:22 PM CDT in News
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After a recent study, the National Trust for Historic Preservation cited a 20 percent job loss and $200 million backlog in maintenance funding as reasons why the state park system is in danger.

The Department of Natural Resources takes issues with this study. It said only 51 jobs were lost as opposed to 120 jobs. It also said budget cuts and decreased funds in the state park system would not prevent parks from staying open.

"We have a system that has stayed open all the time and where people are still enjoying it," DNR spokesperson Judd Slivka said. "And our staff is working hard to make sure people continue to enjoy it and increase their enjoyment."

This evaluation comes at a difficult time when visitors began to use the parks more during the summer months. If hours are limited and parks are closed down, many Missouri residents will be affected.

"I'll be very upset. I've been coming to this park since I was a little girl," Amber Caldwell, a Columbia resident and frequent vistor at Rock Bridge State Park said.

Caldwell also said the park holds many past memories. She revisited the time when she was a child and how she used to go exploring and spelunking in the caves. She said parks are very important to her.

"I love being out in nature. It's a different experience then walking downtown," Caldwell said. "Streams, rivers, all the trees, just for me, It just calms me."

Although the hours are limited and staffing have been reorganized the DNR remains hopeful all state parks will remain open.

"We are always looking for new opportunities to increase revenue, but at the same time preserve the fantastic experience that state parks have been for generations and generations of Missourians," Slivka said.

The DNR and park visitors hope parks will continue to operate despite budget setbacks and hard financial times.

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