Coming Soon to a State Park Near You: Oil Drilling?

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"Cash-strapped state parks across the country are exploring some controversial options to stay open this summer."

MSNBC, Harriet Baskas

Cash-strapped state parks across the country are exploring some controversial options to stay open this summer, from relying heavily on volunteers to charging entrance fees to allowing oil and gas drilling on park land.

In Ohio, the legislature is poised to approve a bill that would open up state parks to drilling. Lawmakers say drilling revenues could provide much-needed funds for state parks.

"This puts a whole new spin on 'getting away from it all,'" Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council said in a statement when the measure was first passed by the State House Committee.

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced plans to permanently close 70 of the state's 278 parks in the fall. In Washington state, where park operating budgets no longer receive state funds, a new $10 a day entrance fee goes into effect on July 1.

Elsewhere, volunteers have been recruited to mow grass and plow snow at state parks. In Aurora, N.Y., the local government now pays for the portable toilet at Knox Farm State Park. At Idaho's Farragut State Park near Coeur d'Alene, revenue is generated not only from entrance fees but from selling discs to park visitors who use the Frisbee golf course.

"We've put all of our eggs in the marketing basket," Richard Just, the chief planner at the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and immediate past president of National Association of Recreation Resource Planners, told the Times. "We're paying a lot more attention toŚand I hate this phraseŚrunning them like a business, because they're not a business."



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