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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Utah Considers Closing 5 State Parks To Ease Budget Deficit

In this tough economy, Utah has fared better than many states and is poised to recover faster than many of our neighbors. We consistently rank as one of the best-managed states in the US in terms of economic policies. Part of that comes from carefully balancing budgets with actual revenue.

Some Utah state parks do not generate enough revenue to support their operation, and so there is debate right now over whether we should continue to subsidize them from general revenues. An analysis committee has recommended that the legislature pass a resolution closing 5 state parks that are not self-sustaining.

There is considerable debate over that recommendation and legislators will weigh public opinion as they decide if that proposal should be advanced. People who have strong feelings should express them to state legislators.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the proposal. Below are excerpts.

“We’re crying,” said Valerie Newland, a seasonal worker at Green River State Park’s golf course, which joined Blanding’s Edge of the Cedars, Vernal’s Utah Field House Museum, Fillmore’s Territorial Statehouse and Cedar City’s Frontier Homestead on a legislative audit’s list of money-losing facilities that should be closed. “There are 850 people in this town, and the course provides a few nice little jobs. For six or eight families, this is going to wipe us out. We rely on this.”

On Utah’s Capitol Hill on Wednesday, the Legislative Fiscal Analysts Office suggested that lawmakers adopt the audit recommendations for$3 million in savings.

Green River Councilman Keith Brady said that though the golf course is important to residents and tourism, the city can’t afford to operate the course on its own.

Four parks on the chopping block are museums, which seldom make money and almost always need government help.

Charlie DeLorme, director of economic development and visitor services in San Juan County, called closing Edge of the Cedars “absolutely ludicrous.”

He argues that the museum is the largest federal repository of Ancestral Puebloan artifacts in the Four Corners region and may become even bigger after the fallout after the raids of private citizens holding artifacts in the area in 2009. He points out that federal funds help pay for some of the operations.

Nikki Farmer, director of Uintah County Travel and Tourism, said Utah Field House Museum and the nearby Dinosaur National Monument quarry — scheduled to reopen later this year — are among the main reasons people visit Vernal.

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