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No park closures planned - yet

Asked about rumors that the state Department of Parks and Rec plans to close three state parks, state Parks Director Bob Meinen told legislative budget writers this morning that there are no such plans - yet. “A lot of what we do in the near future lies with this committee right here,” Meinen told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “We have looked at the budget, we’ve made a recommendation and the governor’s made a recommendation. I believe that if the Legislature supports that we’ll be fine. … We’re looking at revenue streams and the economy. If there is cutbacks, and if there is reduction in the general fund and other funds for us to be able to operate, we obviously are going to have to adapt and address that. Our goal is to keep all parks open, keep ‘em safe, keep ‘em affordable for the families, and make sure that they are available when people want them.” If that can’t be accomplished, he said, some parks would have to be “mothballed for a time to save money. We don’t want to weaken the entire system. … If we can’t afford to keep ‘em all open, then we will have to mothball one or two, whatever that number is.”

Meinen said he’s heard strong support from the surrounding community to keep open Old Mission State Park at Cataldo, which is operated under contract by the state but owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. “The (parks) board is the only entity, I can’t close parks, the board is the one that closes parks,” Meinen told JFAC. “We are not right now under the current budget under any circumstances, at a point where we’re even remotely considering closing any parks. … We’re waiting to see the budget that is given to the department and we’ll have to go from that point.”


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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