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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 12, 2009 at 4:00 PM

State park closures

Casualties of reckless, past spending

It’s not enough that Gov. Christine Gregoire asked the Washington State Parks Department to prepare for a $10 million reduction in their budget for the next two years and the closure of 13 state parks in the process. Now our fiscally challenged governor is asking the Washington State Parks Department to prepare for a $23 million reduction and the mothball of up to 33 parks.

This is insane! These are tough times, but there are far-better solutions than mothballing and liquidating our parks.

Consider a day-use fee. But, make it nominal and equitable. Almost every other state, from conservative Idaho to liberal Connecticut, charges day-use fees. Many states, such as Florida, are raising their fees to meet this fiscal crisis, and the citizenry supports it.

Consider the privatization of certain concessions, such as camping, at some of our parks to reduce government expenditures and help bring in more revenue. British Columbia does this with their provincial parks.

Consider a special lottery to help pay for parks, like what Oregon implemented several years ago.

Consider selling bonds to keep parks open. New Jersey is currently considering this idea.

But do not — absolutely do not — close or mothball our parks! I find it absolutely absurd we are getting ready to celebrate our state parks’ centennial in four years and this is how we’ll show it: by closing and liquidating our parks.

I am absolutely fed up with how our governors and legislators (former Gov. Gary Locke liquidated a handful of state parks earlier this decade) have consistently shown such a lack of commitment to our state parks.

Call and write your representatives and demand that our parks not be the casualties of

reckless past spending. We expect our public officials care for and protect our natural and cultural heritage — not liquidate it.

— Craig Romano, Mount Vernon

Comments | More in Washington Legislature

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