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Analysis: Gov. Budget Chop Might Mean Some State Parks Close Up Shop

July 14, 2008

Springfield, IL – The latest Illinois budget chop may mean some state parks will close up shop. That's according to an analysis from the Illinois Environmental Council, after Gov. Rod Blagojevich took away another $14 million from the Department of Natural Resources budget.

Jonathan Goldman with the Council says the governor's action will mean massive lay-offs at the DNR, and it comes on top of cuts since 2001 that already had eliminated nearly a quarter of the agency's staff.

"State parks, which have already had to cut back services and hours, are going to have to cut back even further. It's possible that some state parks might have to close to the public."

The DNR cuts are part of a list of cuts from the governor to bring the budget into balance. The General Assembly can override the budget changes in its special session, where legislators are working on balancing the budget.

Goldman says outdoor recreation brings in $4 billion of revenue to the state every year, from 45 million state park visitors –- a number he expects to be higher this year, as more Illinois residents look to vacation closer to home.

"With these types of cuts happening to the state park system, and other parts of the Department of Natural Resources, we're going to see economic loss far beyond the few million dollars that the governor is trying to save."

Blagojevich announced the DNR cuts Friday.

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IL