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Archive for Friday, September 30, 2005

Wildlife secretary promotes benefits of park funding bill

September 30, 2005

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The secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks touted the current park funding bill to a few legislators Thursday evening at the Clinton Lake Marina.

Touring the wildlife area, Secretary Mike Hayden, who also is a former Kansas governor, rode a boat around the lake for about 20 minutes with legislators and Wildlife and Parks Commissioner Gerald Lauber, of Topeka.

Senate Bill No. 87 would make park admission free at Clinton Lake and all 22 other state parks in exchange for a $4 increase in annual motor vehicle registration fees for all Kansas vehicles.

"Our current revenue streams are not adequate to keep these parks up properly," Hayden said.

The bill now is before the Kansas Senate after an amendment last session that decreased the fee from $5, and Hayden said he hoped it would pass in the next session, particularly after Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's office issued an opinion that the fee was legal.

Currently, daily vehicle permits in Kansas state parks are $6.50 from April 1 through Sept. 30, and $5.50 from Oct. 1 through March 31.

Clinton State Park manager Jerry Schecher said the new plan would allow him to pursue projects such as improvements to several campsite buildings and other structures at the park, which attracts about 500,000 visitors per year.

Lately, Schecher has held off on larger maintenance projects as the state has lost revenue from the current system because of fewer visitors than expected.

Revenue from the new plan is estimated to be $8.8 million to cover for the decrease in visitors the past two years and the $1.66 million appropriated from the state's general fund for fiscal year 2006, said Jerry Hover, the state's parks division director.

One legislator at Clinton Lake on Thursday said he saw a need for the registration fees because many senior park users had trouble paying for every visit.

"We'll just have to see how it goes," said Rep. Harold Lane, D-Topeka. "Hopefully, there will be support for it."

Thursday's event was the second of three around the state this week that Hayden and other park officials held for legislators.

Comments

Moderateguy 8 years, 6 months ago

Something has to change with the state parks system. They are in the worst state of disrepair I have ever seen. It's sad that Missouri state parks are in such better state than ours. The state park at the east end of Clinton Lake is largely maintained by folks who perform the work in exhcange for a free campsite. As a result, it looks like the most low rent trailer park you have ever seen. I would be fine with increased daily fees as well though if it meant improvements would be done.

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