The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, reeling from a 39 percent state budget cut, announced a series of “heart-wrenching” moves Wednesday designed to deal with the spending cuts and a 24 percent drop in revenue.
Access and services at five state parks will be reduced, operational days will drop at 12 historic sites and fees for lodging, recreation and and parking will increase as well.
“These decisions were heart-wrenching, but were made using a business-case analysis,” DNR commissioner Chris Clark said. “We are exploring every avenue to manage budget reductions and revenue shortfalls, to properly care for our state parks and historic sites and to minimize the impact on Georgia citizens and communities.”
Part of the reorganization will be finding ways for parks, historic sites, golf courses and other DNR properties to become more self-sustaining. Clark said the agency would also explore privatizing operations of lodges and golf courses.
“Outsourcing agreements will be used only if they maintain affordable and high-quality services that are more cost-effective than our own operations,” state parks and historic sites director Becky Kelley said.
If that’s not possible, she said, or if cuts and loss of revenue continues, “further cuts and potential closures of lodges and golf courses are possible.”
Among the changes: