Don Weilmunster, president of the Idaho Parks Foundation, sat off to the side as Gov. Butch Otter and Parks Director Nancy Merrill announced their new plan for state parks - which won’t include eliminating the state parks department. Weilmunster said he’s relieved. The foundation was formed to handle the Harriman State Park donation to the state in the 1960s; “I was in on the negotiations with Averell and the Harrimans,” Weilmunster said. “One of the things before this became a park, they just didn’t want to turn it over to the state of Idaho - we didn’t have a tool to handle it.” The parks foundation held the park for four years, before it was turned over to the newly formed state Parks Department, Weilmunster said. “Naturally I would be very concerned if we made some changes there, because it could jeopardize that gift.”
Weilmunster said he called Otter yesterday, and heard right back from him. Now, he said, he’s pleased with the new direction. “I’ve known Butch for many years,” said Weilmunster, who once owned the land where the parks headquarters building nows stands. The foundation still has an office there. “The governor is concerned, he does his homework, and I’m not worried about that any more.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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