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Celebrating the great state parks of the US
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WASHINGTON: North Head Lighthouse on Long Beach Peninsula transferred to Washington State Parks

WASHINGTON: North Head Lighthouse on Long Beach Peninsula transferred to Washington State Parks | State parks | Scoop.it

North Head Lighthouse on the Long Beach Peninsula has been transferred to the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission from the U.S. Coast Guard.  Located at Cape Disappointment State Park in Pacific County , the lighthouse transfer marks the end of a nearly 19-year process.  Congress approved the transfer of the lighthouse in 1993, however, lead-based paint contaminated soil around the lighthouse prevented the title transfer from occurring...   With soil cleanup and the transfer completed, state parks now will be working to restore the 114-year-old lighthouse with the support of the Keepers of the North Head Lighthouse.

 

On May 16, 1898, the North Head Lighthouse was put into service as the primary navigational aid at the mouth of the Columbia River.  The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse had served this function since 1856...  With all of the original buildings associated with the station still standing, the North Head Lighthouse is the most intact lighthouse reservation in the Pacific Northwest. The North Head Lighthouse is open for tours from May to September.

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NEW YORK: Park passports set record sales

New York state had a big day Monday as sales of its Empire Passports set record highs.  The passports were sold by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in a Cyber Monday promotion, when 22,636 were sold in one day – a 5,000 percent increase from 2011 Cyber Monday sales...  Monday saw a reduced price of $40, down from its usual $65, which may have contributed to the sales increase that amounted to $905,440 in revenue.

 

The 22,636 Empire Passport one day sales number accounts for 27 percent of all Empire Passports sold in 2011.  Last year, 443 Empire Passports were sold on Cyber Monday when parks offered the passports at the regular price of $65 but included a free $25 camping gift card.

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OREGON: Hood River stone mason is one of few skilled enough to match original stone walls in the Columbia gorge

OREGON: Hood River stone mason is one of few skilled enough to match original stone walls in the Columbia gorge | State parks | Scoop.it

-Karol Dietrich

When old stone retaining walls crumble along narrow, winding roads threading through the Columbia River Gorge, government officials often turn to stone mason Don Olmstead to make repairs.  Olmstead, owner of Nature's Edge Stone Art Inc., in Hood River, is one of a small number of master stone masons with skills to meet federal criteria in matching original stone walls, retaining walls and overlook areas.

 

His company recently completed two parking lot retaining walls and overlook areas in the gorge at the Guy W. Talbot State Park near Latourell Falls and at Mitchell Point State Park...  Olmstead says his company has five full-time employees now, but on larger projects, it employs up to 80 stone masons and apprentices.  His son, Rick Olmstead, completed the work at Latourell and Mitchell Point...  "We are grateful to these artists who can repair or re-build these park areas, which help the visitor experience the natural beauty," says Chris Havel, Oregon parks and recreation spokesperson.

 

Olmstead travels and hand picks the rocks he uses for his projects.  He travels to central Montana, with permits in hand, and uses heavy equipment to pick up boulder-size rocks, some of which he resells to other stone masons.  He also trucks some gigantic rocks back to his Hood River business, where he cuts them into various shapes and sizes for park projects or residences.

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TEXAS: Better weather boosts attendance at Texas parks

Better weather, full swimming holes and lower gas prices are driving a rebound at Texas state parks, which saw visitation tumble last year as the record drought dried up streams and lakes and as blistering heat kept campers, boaters and hikers hiding in the great indoors...  Overall, visitation in Texas parks was up 54 percent in April and revenue was up 10 percent in May... 

At Possum Kingdom State Park, about an hour west of Fort Worth, people are slowly returning, said Jeff Nichols, who manages the park store and marina. The park was engulfed by a wildfire in April 2011.  "The fact that we got rain in late winter and spring was just a godsend," he said.  "Now most of the burned hillsides are covered with grasses and leftover wildflowers.

 

The parks are facing a $4.6 million budget shortfall that forced officials to launch a public plea for assistance late last year.  About $1.7 million has been raised, [parks director] Leisure said.  "We know that's not a sustainable method for funding parks," he said.  "That's not something we can do over and over...  Long-term, we need people to use parks; that's what will make the difference.  And so far, that's happening this summer."

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COLORADO: Colorado Parks and Wildlife accounting errors drain reserves

-Kristen Wyatt

Sloppy accounting and staff turnover led to a miscalculation of more than $30 million at Colorado's Division of Wildlife, according to a state audit presented to lawmakers Monday.  The audit detailed the missteps that caused the new merged Division of Parks and Wildlife to overspend its reserve balance between 2007 and 2011.  The problem, lawmakers were told, was caused by reporting errors that led agency officials to believe they had far more money to spend than they really did.  As a result, the Wildlife Cash Fund Reserve dipped from about $37 million in 2007 to about $6 million by 2011.

 

"In the most basic terms, the money was spent but wasn't deducted from the checkbook," said Department of Natural Resources Director Mike King, who called the error "simply inconceivable."  The depleted reserve has forced the Department of Natural Resources to delay some projects.

 

Department officials repeatedly reminded lawmakers that the money was overspent but not misspent.  However, lawmakers were angry about the "gross error" and demanded to know how the agency planned to prevent another slipup.  King and other officials accepted the entirety of the auditors' suggestions — a 27- page report recommending technical accounting corrections — but lawmakers from both parties seemed unsatisfied that the mistake won't happen again.

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TENNESSEE: Cummins Falls named TN’s 54th state park

TENNESSEE: Cummins Falls named TN’s 54th state park | State parks | Scoop.it

Cummins Falls State Park boasts 211 acres stretching across the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River...  [Deputy parks] Commissioner Hill noted that this was the first new state park in 14 years, especially appropriate during this 75th anniversary of Tennessee state parks...  With the eighth-largest waterfall in Tennessee and one of Travel and Leisure magazine’s top 10 swimming holes in the country, Cummins Falls has been used by the community for more than a century.

 

Officially securing the area for the public was no easy task.  The [Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation] had been wishing for Cummins Falls since 2006, but almost lost it to a developer with plans to splash the site with 80 houses.  Ultimately, tough economic times ended the deal and brought the land to auction in 2010.  Though the property cost $1.5 million, the foundation took a chance on it.  And support did come — with funding from the state, federal government and private donations divided three ways.

 

The governor spoke of growing up on the edge of Great Smoky Mountain National Park and its importance at having been preserved by others before him.  “Tourism is growing in Tennessee faster than the national average, so not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also economically important."

 

Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, called it a “park in progress.”  “While it is going to be open, it is going to have limited facilities...  There’s no park office.  There’s no restroom.  Those things are in the works, but we wanted to get this park open so people can enjoy it.  Now that we’re opening up as a state park, we can enhance it, make better accessible points for visitors and own it a little bit.”  Some of these enhancements will be safety precautions.  “They’re working on a hiking trail...  They’ve got some fencing up to look down over the falls.  There has been a park manager assigned.  There will be ranger staff on duty.”

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CALIFORNIA: Woman chased in popular Santa Cruz Mountains park

-Stephen Baxter

Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies advised visitors to the Fall Creek unit of Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to be on guard this week after a man chased a female jogger in the popular hiking spot Wednesday afternoon.  Deputies and State Parks rangers searched for the suspect Wednesday and Thursday but did not find him...  In light of a similar chase in the park in January, deputies are trying to determine whether the cases are related.

 

About 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, a 25-year-old woman was jogging on the Seascape trail in the park.  A man popped out onto the trail behind her...  He asked her "inappropriate" questions, then ran toward her...  The woman threw a water bottle at him then dashed away.  He chased her but apparently gave up.  The woman — who did not have a cellphone — safely exited the park.  She found a phone and called 911.

 

He was described as a white man about 5 feet 10 inches tall.  He had a medium build, brown hair and wore light-colored pants...  The chase follows a similar one about three months ago.  On Jan. 25, a 14-year-old girl was jogging in the Lime Kiln Trail area when a man talked to her.  He reached out to grab her, but she kept running and was not harmed.  No one has been arrested in that case...  The suspect was a light-skinned man about 40 years old.  He was 5 feet, 8 inches to 6 feet tall with a medium build.  He had shoulder-length brown hair and a brown beard.

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ARIZONA: State parks get budget protection, but money stays tight

ARIZONA: State parks get budget protection, but money stays tight | State parks | Scoop.it

-Joanna Dodder Nellans

State parks revenues got some protection from legislative sweeps thanks to the persistence of Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, and other parks supporters.  The budget approved by the Legislature this week includes wording that says money that parks earn from fees and concessions will go towards park uses...  Fann said she... hung signs reading "Please don't forget state parks" in the offices of Senate President Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, and the House chief of staff.  "I bugged the bejeebers out of them," she said.

 

While the budget amendment was good news for state parks supporters, the parks remain operating on a shoestring budget after years of revenue sweeps.  The state budget keeps the state parks budget flat, said Jay Ziemann, state parks assistant director.  "We're probably in the same boat this year," he said.  "We're going to be reliant on partners to keep some of these parks open."

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UTAH: Park rangers take over hunt for quagga, zebra mussels

UTAH: Park rangers take over hunt for quagga, zebra mussels | State parks | Scoop.it

Utah State Parks employees have finished two days of special training at Utah Lake, preparing them to take over work of inspecting boats at lakes and reservoirs throughout Utah for invasive mussels.  Since 2008, technicians with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources have handled the work of inspection and decontamination, if mussels are found.  At the state's most popular waters, DWR technicians will continue that work, but beginning this summer, most inspections will now be done by state parks staff.

 

Larry Dalton of the DWR said the change will ensure every boater who enters a state park is contacted...  "Oour people aren't at the parks as much as the state park rangers and ranger aides who run the parks," Dalton said in a statement.  "Our goal with this partnership is to get boaters on state park lakes and reservoirs with minimal wait time, while protecting our waters," Utah State Parks director Fred Hayes said.

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NEBRASKA: Refocusing Nebraska tourism

-Paul Hammel

For most of its 78 years, Ponca State Park was a quiet getaway spot amid the wooded bluffs along the Missouri River.  But over the past two decades the park has been transformed.  Thanks to a $20 million investment, new and fun activities and a smart marketing campaign, Ponca is “where people and nature meet.”

 

It has 17 new cabins, a modern lodge for meetings and classes, and additional land along the river for camping, fishing and waterfowl watching.  New activities include kayaking, outdoor cooking classes and programs on shooting and nature skills.  Kids can even dig in the mud for fossils.  The result: Nearly 800,000 visitors a year, up from about 200,000 before the improvements.

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ARIZONA: State Parks names new director

ARIZONA: State Parks names new director | State parks | Scoop.it

-Steve Ayers

Arizona State Parks has announced the hiring of Pinal County supervisor and decorated Gulf War veteran Bryan Martyn as its new director.  Martyn was chosen following a three-month national search...  He began his new job May 1, as interim director Bill Feldmeier transitions out.

 

Although he has no experience in parks or recreation management, Arizona State Parks Board Chairman Walter Armer said Martyn was chosen because of his experience managing budgets and employees in Pinal County and his service on the Arizona State Parks Foundation.  "This type of leadership experience has given him a good understanding of what this agency has to do to find sustainable funding.  We need his extensive background not only working with Arizona's leadership but also with the grassroots citizenry," Armer said.

 

The Tucson Citizen reported on Monday that an organization called the Pinal Truth Squad, of which Martyn has been serving as the director, is being investigated by the Arizona Attorney General's Office for possible campaign law violations.

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ILLINOIS: Pay to play (OPINION)

ILLINOIS: Pay to play (OPINION) | State parks | Scoop.it

Get used to the unthinkable: You may soon have to pay to enjoy your state parks.  Or rather, get used to what's been unthinkable here but is commonplace almost everywhere else.  Illinois is one of only seven states that don't charge an admission fee to its recreation areas.  But it also has $750 million in overdue repairs and maintenance, thanks to those declining budgets.

 

Yes, we know your tax dollars already support the parks...  But the beauty of user fees, and that's what these would be, is that you don't pay them unless you play.  It makes sense to have the people who use the boardwalks and restrooms contribute more to keep them clean, safe and in good repair...  For less than it costs to park in downtown Chicago for one day (and far less than it costs to take a family to a Cubs game or a movie), you could access the state park system for an entire year.  Those parks are a great bargain compared with Europe, Disney World, the Wisconsin Dells…  How many times have you driven across the state line — and paid a fee — to enjoy the natural beauty of Wisconsin or Indiana?  Charging entry fees on this side of the line would make out-of-staters help pay for our parks… just like we help pay for theirs.

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KANSAS: Senate douses park fee reform bill

-Tim Carpenter

The Senate overwhelmingly rejected Monday a proposal to make it easier and less costly for most Kansans to acquire a vehicle permit for entrance into state parks.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism had requested authority to sell $15 annual permits to people as they simultaneously completed registration of their motor vehicles with the state.  Under the bill, the fee would be $22.50 for Kansans choosing to pay online or in person at a park office...  The incentive program outlined in the bill would result in at least a 10 percent increase in state park permit sales and generate an estimated $1.7 million in park revenue.

 

However, the House-passed bill failed 13-23 in the Senate after Republicans and Democrats questioned why senior citizens would lose their state park discount.  Sen. Allen Schmidt, D-Hays, said he was surprised to learn the bill also would strike the discount available for people with disabilities.

 

[Parks secretary] Jennison said officials at the wildlife and parks department would attempt to explain benefits of the bill to senators and urge reconsideration of the bill.  He said the state of Michigan implemented a similar park registration mechanism and experienced a 27 percent increase in registrations.

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TEXAS: First shipments of pine seedlings arrives in Bastrop

TEXAS: First shipments of pine seedlings arrives in Bastrop | State parks | Scoop.it

-Dave Harmon

A small group of smiling people in forest service green were waiting in the cold wind when the 18-wheeler arrived Tuesday morning, loaded with 226,452 pine seedlings — the first shipment of trees to replace what last year’s fires destroyed.  Stacked in cardboard boxes, the spindly seedlings stand 8 to 10 inches tall. In the coming weeks, they will be hand-planted in parts of the 32,000-acre burn scar amid the blackened skeletons of dead pines.

 

The shipment represents about half of the 550,000 drought-tolerant pine seedlings that will arrive in Bastrop this winter for the first year of a five-year effort to plant 4 million trees in the burned areas...  This weekend, volunteers will put the first seedlings into the ground at Bastrop State Park, which will use both volunteers and Americorps workers to plant 220,000 seedlings on 400 acres this winter.  The rest of this year’s seedlings — about 330,000 — will be planted at the Griffith League Scout Ranch and on private property throughout the area.

 

Last fall, shortly after the fires that destroyed more than 1,700 homes and other structures and blackened virtually all of the 6,600-acre state park... the state had sacks of pine seed on hand, but no money to grow them into trees, and the seeds needed to be planted quickly to be ready for this winter’s planting season.

 

The folks at the state-run Beauregard Nursery in Louisiana had watched the news coverage of the Labor Day fires in Bastrop, and quickly agreed to plant the seeds for Texas.  Pay us when you can...  Public and private nurseries in other states, including South Carolina-based ArborGen Inc., which provided Tuesday’s shipment, also agreed to grow pines without upfront money...  Foundations later donated the money to pay the nurseries, and businesses and individuals gave money to help cover some of the labor to plant the trees

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TENNESSEE: Governor Haslam and Senator Alexander name Rocky Fork as proposed site for Tennessee’s 55th state park

TENNESSEE: Governor Haslam and Senator Alexander name Rocky Fork as proposed site for Tennessee’s 55th state park | State parks | Scoop.it

Elected officials and members of the community for a special ceremony announcing the future conveyance of more than 2,000 acres in the Rocky Fork area of Unicoi County, that will eventually become Tennessee’s 55th state park.  The property is part of the 10,000-acre tract acquired by The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service in 2008, and will be conveyed to the state of Tennessee in the coming months.

 

Located along the Appalachian Trail corridor and the Tennessee-North Carolina border near Asheville, Rocky Fork is named after the cool waters that run down its center.  The property is adjacent to more than 22,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service-designated wilderness, including Sampson and Bald mountains.  Before Rocky Fork’s acquisition by The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service, it was one of the largest unprotected tracts in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

 

The entire Rocky Fork wilderness area provides a wide range of world-class recreational opportunities, including hiking the popular Appalachian Trail, fishing more than 16 miles of blue-ribbon trout streams, and hunting bear, turkey, deer and grouse.  The area is also home to both state and federally endangered species, including the Peregrine falcon.

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CALIFORNIA: State parks get reprieve from budget cuts

CALIFORNIA: State parks get reprieve from budget cuts | State parks | Scoop.it

You'll be able to visit almost all of your treasured state parks this summer - but that's because of a reprieve, not a pardon.  A few months ago, 70 of them were set for closure...  But the efforts of local agencies and volunteers, private philanthropists and a last-minute deal in the state budget have saved the day - for now: Almost all of the threatened parks will survive to delight visitors for at least another year.

 

Their long-term future, however, remains precarious...  About 40 of the imperiled sites have secured solid agreements between volunteers, local agencies and the U.S. Park Service to keep the trails open and the restrooms functioning.  But this is not a long-term solution to the problem that threatens the most prestigious state park system in the nation.  Funding for the parks has evaporated like a tiny mountain pond in the midsummer sun.

 

The old method of paying for parks - money from taxpayers as part of the state budget - is a thing of the past.  The higher cost of everything and the reluctance of the Legislature to raise taxes mean that a new model is needed...  What's needed is a partnership between nonprofit groups and philanthropists (that would be you, Silicon Valley gazillionaires) who understand the value of the state's parks.

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CALIFORNIA: Malibu Lagoon restoration work begins on quiet note

CALIFORNIA: Malibu Lagoon restoration work begins on quiet note | State parks | Scoop.it

-Martha Groves

A small group of activists turned out Monday morning to protest the work and a few volunteers for state parks were also on hand to begin photographing the site to provide documentation.  The state had the go-ahead to start its work at the site Friday but agreed to postpone it until Monday to avoid interfering with a weekend surfing event at Surfrider Beach.  Opponents contended that the delay was prompted by concerns about the state's plan to drain the lagoon and reshape its banks and channels.

 

Backers say the four-month project will support more plants, birds and fish and create a viable ecosystem with water flowing in and out.  Foes of the plan say it will destroy the lagoon and flatten waves at Surfrider.

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CALIFORNIA: Palomar Mountain – State park gets final OK to stay open

CALIFORNIA: Palomar Mountain – State park gets final OK to stay open | State parks | Scoop.it

-Chris Nichols

It's official: Palomar Mountain State Park will remain open this summer despite being slated to be closed July 1 along with 70 other California parks.  Park officials and Friends of Palomar Mountain State Park, a local nonprofit, received final approval Tuesday on a three-year deal to use money raised by the nonprofit to close a state funding shortfall.

 

Since January, more than 300 people, businesses and foundations contributed money needed to keep the park open, [Friends chairman] Barclay said.  The nonprofit has raised more than $84,000, but must raise a minimum of $180,000 to ensure funding throughout the three-year deal.

 

The mountain park has more than 11 miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, a fishing pond, meadows and coniferous forests on 1,862 acres.  It is often compared with recreational spots in the Sierra Nevada.  The money raised by the nonprofit is expected to fill the gap between what the state spends to keep the park open (about $220,000) and the revenue the park generates.

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TEXAS: Texas moves to expand Mother Neff, its first official state park

TEXAS: Texas moves to expand Mother Neff, its first official state park | State parks | Scoop.it

-Asher Price

Nearly 100 years after its initial founding, Texas' first official state park will grow by more than half.  Mother Neff State Park, named for the mother of a Texas governor who had donated 6 acres of Leon River land to the state in 1916, will grow from 259 acres to roughly 400 acres under a deal between private landowners and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

 

The park... comprises a combination of hardwood trees, such as sugarberrys and elms; an evergreen forest of Ashe junipers; rolling grassland uplands; and a host of Texas oaks.

The new land, which will cost the state $1.15 million, is under contract. The money comes from the sale this spring of land overlooking Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

 

The new property includes a half-mile of frontage along the Leon River, river bluff views, forest habitat for the endangered golden-cheeked warbler and extensive prehistoric archaeological resources on land that once belonged to the Tonkawa Indians...  The purchase triples the amount of park river frontage...  Mother Neff State Park is among the smaller parks in the state system, and visitation has fallen off in recent years as some campgrounds and facilities have been damaged by flooding.

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ARIZONA: Parks backers draft voluntary fee measure

-Howard Fischer

Unable to rely on state funding, supporters of the state parks system launched an initiative drive Friday to get Arizona motorists to provide the needed funds.  The heart of the proposal revolves around a $14 surcharge added to the cost of each vehicle registration fee.  That fee is voluntary -- but motorists would have to affirmatively opt out by checking a box on the renewal form to avoid paying it.

 

Bill Meek, president of the Arizona Parks Foundation, said states with similar systems manage to get anywhere from 40 percent to 80 percent of drivers agreeing to the additional fee.  Meek had no specific estimates of what the fee might raise.  But a 2009 report estimated that even if half of motorists opt out, that could still raise $40 million a year.The proposal comes after years of state lawmakers not only refusing to provide state funds to operate the parks but on several occasions actually taking away the money the parks system raised itself in fees, putting the cash toward other budget priorities.

 

Backers of the initiative, which Meek said does not yet have the endorsement of the Parks Foundation, have only until July 5 to gather 172,809 valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot.  Meek acknowledged that kind of effort is going to require hiring paid circulators...  Meek, a long-time lobbyist, said he believes key Arizona businesses can be persuaded to pony up some cash.  "We've got pretty strong arguments and pretty good documentation for the economic benefits of outdoor recreation, parks and open space," he said."  I think the corporate community, when they see that, will feel this is a pretty important item."

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TEXAS: After drought's end, state parks are hot spots again

TEXAS: After drought's end, state parks are hot spots again | State parks | Scoop.it

-Shannon Tompkins

Six months ago, as the record-setting drought and heat of this past summer burned into autumn, Texas' state parks withered physically and economically...  Across Texas, campers, boaters, hikers picnickers and birders and other state park users stayed away in droves.  Drought had shrivelled rivers and lakes, making boating, fishing and even swimming difficult if not impossible.  A combination of stifling heat and, because of the threat of wildfires, a nearly universal ban on open fires, dissuaded campers.

 

When winter brought an end to record heat and rains began falling in parts of Texas, lakes and rivers rose, burn bans were lifted, and visitors began returning to state parks...  After seeing much reduced visitation during the later half of 2011, Pedernales Falls' campground has been full every weekend...  Visitation at Somerville State Park dwindled this past year as Lake Somerville's water level dropped so low many boat ramps were not usable and swimming areas turned to dry ground.  But rains over the past months have pushed the lake's level up, and with the rising water came a rise in park visitation.

 

This April saw a 23 percent increase in park revenue generated by visitors compared with April 2011...  Those April figures add to encouraging numbers for this fiscal year.  Despite the dramatic drop during autumn, state park visitation for Sept 1, 2011 through March 31, 2012 is slightly higher than the same period a year ago - 3.69 million compared with 3.61 million.  And... significantly higher than 3.13 million visits over the same seven-month period in 2010.

 

"It's been full every weekend since it reopened," Good said of Bastrop's cabins and campsites.  "And the weekends are booked solid into June."  "Things are looking better, but we're certainly not out of the woods," Leisure said.  While parks in the eastern half of the state are seeing a good spring, drought conditions and low water levels in rivers and waterways continue plaguing parks in western Texas.

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DELAWARE: Gun barrel salvaged from the USS Missouri

DELAWARE: Gun barrel salvaged from the USS Missouri | State parks | Scoop.it

After a long journey by water and rail, a storied 16-inch gun barrel was unveiled today at the Battery 519 Museum at the Fort Miles Historical Area in Cape Henlopen State Park, where it will be stationed.  The gun barrel, which weighs more than 116 tons and is 66 feet long, was salvaged from the USS Missouri, the battleship on whose deck the Japanese signed the surrender that ended World War II on Sept 2, 1945. The huge 16" gun could hurl 2,700 pound shells more than 23 miles in 50 seconds, with pinpoint accuracy in support of U.S. ground troops.

 

Senator Thomas Carper [said] “As a major operational center of our nation’s coastal defense during World War II, Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park is the perfect place to display this artifact from the U.S.S. Missouri.”  At one time, two similar guns were installed at Fort Miles, which served as the Army’s coastal defense fortification.  The guns were removed after the war, and were rumored to have been scrapped and turned into razor blades.

 

The gun on the U.S.S. Missouri was discovered in a naval yard in Norfolk, destined to become scrap as well, until the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA) requested it, launching a fundraising effort to move the gun to Delaware.  According to the FMHA, the total cost of getting the 16" barrel to Delaware was $113,500.  The funds were raised through private donations and several key grants...  It could be another year or two before the 16" gun barrel is displayed.  It joins eight other guns currently located at Fort Miles.

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CALIFORNIA: Saving California parks shouldn't be this hard (OPINION)

-Reed Holderman, Sempervirens Fund

 

First I would like to consider how we got to this place.  Sadly, it started with decades of disinvestment and cuts to state parks, resulting in $1.3 billion in deferred maintenance costs.  Our parks are falling apart, despite the incredible work of state parks' staff to keep everything together with little financial support.

 

In 2010, the conservation community launched Proposition 21 in an effort to permanently fund state parks.  That measure was defeated.  When voters were asked why they voted against Proposition 21, many replied that they support parks, but don't trust that Sacramento would use the money for them.

 

During the Great Depression, when things were much worse, elected officials could have chosen to go down the "cut everything" path like we are doing now.  Instead, they did just the opposite.  Rather than closing parks, they opened California's largest at Anza Borrego and christened Grand Canyon National Park.  They built the Golden Gate Bridge and Hoover Dam.  When Rexford Tugwell, a New Deal architect, was asked what he was trying to accomplish, he said: Put people to work and give them hope.  We could use a little of both right now.

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VIRGINIA: Visitors can openly carry guns in Virginia parks

-David Sherfinski

A long-standing prohibition on openly carrying guns in Virginia state parks is set to officially end Monday, a victory for gun rights advocates after a protracted political battle that spanned four administrations.  More than a year in the making, the state code is being changed after Gov. Bob McDonnell in January 2011 ordered the Department of Conservation and Recreation to stop enforcing the regulation banning guns from parks.  The section has been part of the code or department regulations since at least 1965, and likely since the state park system was created in 1936, according to state documents.

 

Republicans for a decade have sought to clarify whether the state has legal authority to enforce gun bans and were supported by opinions from two GOP attorneys general...  Concealed carry of guns, which requires a permit, was already allowed in Virginia parks...  People 18 and older in Virginia who can legally own a gun can carry one openly in the state without a permit, as long as it’s visible and holstered.  But they were not allowed to bring a gun into a state park.  Repealing that regulation affects a significantly larger swath of the gun-owning population because there are far more legal gun owners than concealed-carry permit holders.

 

Since Mr. McDonnell ordered the department to stop enforcing the gun-ban regulations, Virginia officials have not had any incidents directly related to the law no longer being enforced.

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CALIFORNIA: Jack London State Historic Park under new management

CALIFORNIA: Jack London State Historic Park under new management | State parks | Scoop.it

-Derek Moore

Tjiska Van Wyk is blazing a new trail at Jack London State Historic Park, but don’t expect any signs for Wal-Mart along the way.  “We don’t want to turn it into a theme park, where everywhere you turn something is underwritten by a corporation,” Van Wyk said.  “We want to make sure it remains a wild park.”  Van Wyk has been hired as the park’s first-ever executive director under a new operating agreement with the state that spared the 1,400-acre site from closure this summer.

 

Van Wyk... has had a long career in marketing and development for nonprofit organizations that include the San Francisco Zoological Society, Sierra Club, the American Red Cross and Earthjustice...  The Valley of the Moon Natural History Association and the California parks department reached an agreement this month for the association to take over operations at Jack London...  Neither Van Wyk or Elisa Stancil, vice-president of the history association, would say how much the association is paying Van Wyk.

 

Van Wyk outlined a plan for generating revenue that includes raising the cost to park at Jack London from $8 to $10, hosting weddings, corporate retreats and other functions at the park, and creating a robust park membership program.  She said the park can generate about half its annual operating budget of roughly $500,000 through the higher parking fees and better collection efforts, which include the installation of credit card machines to make it easier for park visitors to pay for parking, and staffing a kiosk at the park’s entrance to gain better compliance.  Van Wyk said the park will offer a $49 annual pass that will allow unlimited access to Jack London.  She said the park also will honor other state parks passes.

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