Cash-strapped Americans looking for a cheap getaway at a state park or campground this summer are likely to find instead reduced hours, higher fees and closed beaches and pools.
State parks and historic sites across the nation have had to cut back because of budgets squeezed by the economic downturn, said Philip McKnelly, executive director of the National Association of State Parks Directors.
“Most states are trying to cut back in some area,” McKnelly, former director of North Carolina’s state parks system, said in a telephone interview this week from Raleigh.
While state parks are struggling, national parks that had service cutbacks two years ago are expecting an upswing fueled by federal stimulus dollars.
In Illinois, 11 state-run historic sites reopened in April after being shut down for five months to help close a budget deficit measured in the billions. Utah’s 43 state parks and museums are hiring fewer seasonal workers and eliminating some positions because their budget was slashed 15 percent. In Georgia, the budget passed last month slashes state park money by nearly 40 percent.