But Changes to the System Remain on the Table:
Facing budget shortfalls and increased operating costs, the state of Georgia was considering the closure of up to six of our forty eight state parks earlier this year. While it is unlikely that the heavily used north Georgia mountain parks like Vogel and Unicoi were being considered for the axe, the recent news that there would be no closures induced a huge sigh of relief from Georgians and visitors who take advantage of our nationally renowned park system.
Georgia State Parks will not escape the economic downturn without changes, however. Among the ideas being discussed is privatizing the golf courses and lodges that are now being operated as part of some parks. This would affect the lodges at Amicalola Falls and Unicoi State Parks as well as Smithgall Woods Conservation Area located in the mountains. Also on the table is the closure of some historical sites, or at least reduced hours or staffing at those sites.
Public pressure and feedback has been cited as one of the reasons for the decision not to close any parks. Mountainfreak.net will make every attempt to keep our readers up to date on further developments as we head into the new year - It is our opinion that there are many areas of state government that should be considered for cutbacks before we do away with parts of a system which actually helps pay for itself...and provides so many opportunities for outdoor activities.