Advocates fight for funding for CT state parks - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Advocates fight for funding for CT state parks

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State park funding could be cut in the Connecticut budget. (WFSB file photo) State park funding could be cut in the Connecticut budget. (WFSB file photo)

As we approach Memorial Day and the unofficial start to summer, some Connecticut lawmakers and park officials lobbied to keep state parks funding.

The current budget proposal could cut millions of dollars from them. In recent years, it seems parks are on the budget chopping block and 2017 is no different.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said they stand to lose $6 million under the latest budget proposal.

Last year, there were cuts as well. Some small campgrounds closed and there were fewer lifeguards on duty.

But this year, it looks like they’ll be even more job cuts and disruptions. The cuts could mean less maintenance for the 109 state parks and some bathrooms could close as well.

"Most of our parks in our state and in the nation are operated in the way that we're calling for our parks to be operated. By and large, our forests and parks are self service," Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

Even if popular spots such as Rocky Neck and Hammonasset would be spared, both democrats and republicans seem to agree there should be a dedicated funding stream to keep parks running smoothly.

That includes the idea of adding a charge to vehicle registrations.

Right now there are only 35 full time staff to manage the 110 state parks in Connecticut and this round of cuts comes on the heels of last year's which resulted in three of the 14 state campgrounds closing after Independence Day. 

Nine other were closed after Labor Day.

Some say doing this would affect the tourism dollars the state relies upon.

“This passive management thing is unacceptable. It means that people aren't going to be there to support our parks,” said East Lyme State Senator Paul Formica.

Malloy is still looking at the big picture and reaching the daunting goal of balancing the budget.

Democrats and republicans have come up with what's being called the passport to parks. It's a $10 fee that would be charged with car registration. That would then allow all state residents free access to the parks while out-of-staters would be charged admission. It's expected to save about $10 million.

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