The arrival of summer brings lots of sunshine and smiles as families begin to plan their summer vacation. Families are finding traveling this summer a little rough with high gas prices, and even higher airline fees. More people are turning to local or nearby attractions for their family vacation this year in efforts to save money while taking a much needed break. Each state offers parks and recreation for the family at prices that are more in line with today’s economy. But families aren’t the only ones struggling with finances. With the economy hovering on the fence of recovery, many national and state parks are hoping for an increase in tourism this summer to bring a much needed surge of profits.
Park Services Under Severe Budget Cuts
National and state parks have been feeling the effects of budget cutbacks in recent years. In efforts to save money, park services have been reduced to less paid positions and more volunteer employees. They have also have had several locations close around the country and may offer fewer services than in previous years. Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has been forced to close seven of their parks and California is at risk of losing around 70 of their state parks. Fee increases are all too common these days as it seems every business, whether corporate, private or government, has had to raise fees to cover their operating costs. “Just as an American family has to absorb increased costs, that’s something the Park Service has to deal with,” said John Garder of the National Parks Conservation Association.
The National Park Service budget has been cut by $130 million this year with an expected reduction of 7% in the 2012 budget. The park budget goes towards operational costs, construction and restoration projects and seasonal activities. With such a huge reduction in budget, parks around the country are being forced to find innovative ways to provide services for families who are looking for an affordable vacation. The biggest concern for the parks is whether the budget cuts will effect tourism and create further financial problems for the already suffering national and state parks.
Click here for more information on how to protect your local state park from closing its gates.