State park fees needed for maintenance, according to advocates and lawmakers

By Anthony Brino
Illinois Statehouse News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Those interested in visiting state parks in Illinois may have to pay a fee to offset a cut in funding to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) wants to reduce the department’s budget by 13.5 percent, or $16.2 million. IDNR currently has a budget of $61million.

House Bill 5789 passed the Illinois House with an 81-29 vote Monday, March 26, and now heads to the state Senate.

The bill — which has Quinn’s support — gives IDNR the discretion to set the fee. IDNR is considering $25 per person for an annual pass to the state park system and between $5 to $10 for a daily pass, said spokesman Chris McCloud.

The fees could generate about $9 million, said state. Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch.

Supporters of the bill said it would allow IDNR to perform much-needed maintenance.

Jack Darin, director of the Illinois Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy organization, said: “I think it’s a small price to pay. Illinoians are used to going to state parks in Wisconsin, which does charge user fees. Those parks are in great shape. Our parks are not.”

Posted March 28, 2012

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