State parks take a hit from budget cuts - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

State parks take a hit from budget cuts

By Robin Jedlicka - bio | email

January 14, 2009

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

There are over 60 state parks and historical sites in Georgia. These peaceful settings give no indication of the problems park workers are facing in light of the state-wide budget cuts. Parks have made cut back in many ways.

Josh Hart, Assistant Park Manager at Reed Bingham State Park, tells us their staff has taken several steps to conserve gas.  "Instead of mowing once a week or three or four times a month, we're just mowing once every three weeks just to keep the grass looking good. But that's knocked off a tremendous amount of money we've been using here with gas," says Hart.

Some parks are resorting to occasional controlled burnings as a cost-effective way to keep grass low.  Workers at Reed Bingham purchased bikes and golf carts to use as cheaper, alternative transportation.

Several locations have had to cut back on hours of operation.  Reed Bingham Park Manager Chet Powell says, "Jefferson Davis Historical Site, which is not too far from here, is still open to the public. Their hours have been changed a little bit, but the experience is still there and that's the main thing. It's still open so I encourage people to go support it."

Georgia's parks have also received a mandatory freeze on new hires. This has left several parks short on necessary staff members.  Other negative affects include a freeze on equipment purchases, and the possibility of out-sourcing certain parks.

While there have been changes, park workers affirm that visitors will not be disappointed. "I challenge anyone to see where it's affected us superficially," says Powell.

Georgia's parks still offer an escape that life in the city just can't offer.

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