See our article "Our Parks on Life Support," in the March/April 2011 issue of Trail Walker.
The Trail Conference is pleased that the budget proposal for 2012 announced on Feb. 15 by Gov. Chris Christie does not include new cuts to parks operating budgets. We remain concerned, however, that staffing levels are 35% below what has been determined to be necessary for good stewardship, including monitoring pipeline projects being constructed through parks and the immediate need to repair and replace critical equipment after a 3-year moratorium.
The budget proposal put forward by Gov. Chris Christie on February 15, provides a modest increase in funds for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), calls for an increase in parks and forestry appropriations and continues funding for several programs charged with protecting the state’s natural resources.
In addition, $6.2 million in funding for the operations of the State’s parks and forests is being restored from the state’s general fund, assuring that all state parks will remain open. Many of the 54 state parks have been operating with critically low staff levels, which the Governor has proposed increasing to better serve the more than 17 million visitors who make use of these sites annually. Capital development projects required to improve facilities at state parks would be allocated $2.6 million in Gov. Christie’s budget, helping to assure that visitors can use them safely and enjoyably.
The budget process now enters the public negotiating phase, and those who love parks and open space need to stay vigilant and involved. Let your state representatives know your views.
If you are interested in leading the Trail Conference efforts to support the state’s parks system, contact Chris Ingui, Trail Conference program coordinator for New Jersey, at [email protected].
February 24, 2011:
Parks Would Remain Open, Dept. of Environmental Protection Staffing Levels Stable in Gov. Christie's Budget Proposal. For more details, please click and read the press Release from the Keep It Green Coalition.