The Senate Resources Committee has voted unanimously to introduce legislation from Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, to make the state Board of Parks and Recreation advisory, and let the governor appoint the state parks director. The board now hires the director. Schroeder, the committee’s chairman, said he’s introducing the bill in hopes it won’t need to progress further. “We came close to losing a department that’s very dear to the hearts of Idahoans,” Schroeder said. “In my opinion there are management problems.” Schroeder said he wants Parks Director Nancy Merrill to be able to make the changes at the Parks Department that she and Gov. Butch Otter have proposed, without interference from the parks board. “I’m not going to allow that board to cut her off at the knees,” he declared.
Schroeder said, “We have an agency that said last year everything would be all right. In the interim, before the Legislature could even meet, they started closing down parks … such as Dworshak, near my district. … And then we discovered that they have financial reserves over there. .. It’s questionable when you’re closing down parks, whether you need that.” Schroeder said the bill is intended to send “a very strong message,” and said, “I want to ensure that she’s allowed to implement the plan.”