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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP

Do Georgia State Parks need more camp sites, cabins?

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Tugaloo State Park could add to its 113 camp sites and 20 cottages on the shores of Lake Hartwell. AJC/Brant Sanderlin

Some Georgia State Parks could get new campsites, cabins and cottages — good news for anybody who has waited for a spot during peak season in spring, summer, fall or on any holiday.

The Department of Natural Resources hopes to float $5 million in bonds for the building projects, and Gov. Sonny Perdue supports the project. As the story, “Lawmakers could put $5 million into campsites, cabins for state parks,” by AJCer Nancy Badertscher explains:

The idea is to make the parks more self-sustaining, says Becky Kelley, the DNR’s director of parks, recreation and historic sites. The system brings in 69 cents for every dollar it spends …

The strategy of investing in more cabins and campsites for the state parks is based on history, she said.

State parks make the most money “when people spend the night with us,” Kelley said.

It explains that the Richard B. Russell State Park turned a profit of $63,000 in 2008 and has had up to an 11-month waiting list for its 28 campsites and 17 cottages. With more campsites, Badertscher wrote, the DNR forecasts the park could boost revenues by $200,000 a year.

Nice work on finding a way to make some money, but…11 month waiting list?! Really? That’s the number I get hung up on.

I’ve never stayed overnight in a Georgia State Park, but every time a story has taken me to one of their campgrounds, they’re packed. I shouldn’t be surprised by the popularity: the parks are an incredible resource for fun things to do, even if you’re not staying overnight. Just check out their events listings.

This seems like a nice solution to cutting back those recreational, educational and community-building resources again and again, but as the AJC story points out, it sounds odd when there are so many cuts looming over state government.

Here’s the breakdown on which parks could be adding more places to stay:

Cloudland Canyon State Park, Rising Fawn: 25 campsites, $1 million.
Tugaloo State Park
, Lavonia: 20 campsites, $650,000.
Fort McAllister Historic Park
, Richmond Hill: six cottages, $1.2 million.
Richard B. Russell State Park
, Elberton: 50 campsites, $2 million.
Skidaway Island State Park
, Savannah: three to five camping cabins, $90,000.

Have you stayed at a Georgia State Park camp site or cabin and was it a good experience? Do the parks need more overnight facilities, or would you like to see other changes in the parks first?

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5 comments Add your comment

Sick and Tired Too

February 22nd, 2010
10:28 pm

Just wondering why Reed Bingham doesn’t get anything. It seems to be the red-headed stepchild of the state parks in Georgia. They have done more with less and they still get nothing from the DNR. So, what does the DNR do? They get rid of the staff. Now they want to spend more money in these troubled economic times. I guess they need to clear-cut some timber to pay for it. Reed Bingham seems like a likely place to start.

Sick and Tired

February 22nd, 2010
10:07 am

The cabins are wonderful and needed! Thanks DNR. You do a great job for the State of GA.

thepedalingpastor

February 22nd, 2010
10:03 am

Love our State Parks. Simply don’t understand how an entity could justify taking jobs away from people and with the same stroke of the pen spend soooo much money. So that is what Georgia wants to be known for? Come work for us, and we will use you until we need you no longer. There are a lot of folks in South Georgia (and around the world) who are very displeased with decisions being made. Find us on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-Friends-for-keeping-Chet-Powell-at-Reed-Bingham-State-Park/251900063778?ref=ts

Ganative

February 21st, 2010
7:36 pm

I do not understand why it cost so much to build campsites?? 2 mill comeon it could be built for a lot less. I have gone out of state to stay at camping cabins their great still their cost is not that much either

@ArthanteLafleur

February 20th, 2010
10:11 am

The cabins are great for people who don’t want to rough it, but just don’t overbuild to the detriment of those of us who use the State Parks for the real backcountry wilderness experience!