Open for visitors

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

State parks, historic sites and other places of interest are affected by the recession. Reduced tax revenue means fewer dollars available for state-run programs and services. Parks and sites that attract tourists tend to be an easy target when legislators are faced with major budget cuts.

Some states, like Illinois, have temporarily closed state-run attractions to help balance the budget. Others have added or increased fees for visiting these special destinations.

Missouri's state parks and historic sites are also feeling the budgetary pressure. But so far they aren't being closed. Instead, officials are spreading available dollars to keep places like Bollinger Mill State Historic Site at Burfordville, Trail of Tears State Park in northern Cape Girardeau County and Big Oak Tree State Park and the Hunter-Dawson State Historic Site near New Madrid available to visitors, but with cuts in activities and staffing.

Keeping these places open is important during tough budgetary times, because many Missourians and visitors from nearby states are looking for things to do that cost less money. That includes shorter trips to state parks and historic sites. For now, these visitors will still find the welcome mat is out, but there may be fewer special events.

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