Amendment 2 aims to protect AL state park funding - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Amendment 2 aims to protect AL state park funding

(WAFF) -

Voters will help decide the fate of Alabama state parks this November.

Amendment 2 aims to ensure all money generated by the parks stays within the park system for maintenance and improvements, in turn protecting some of the state's most beautiful natural settings.

"We've been operating for five years now with uncertainty," said state parks director Greg Lein.

Lein held a press conference with other community leaders to encourage people to get out and vote "yes" on Amendment 2 in November.

Five state parks were forced to close last year. Parks department officials say $15 million of their budget has been taken away since 2012.

"We don't know how much money is going to be taken from our funds from one year to another. That has crippled our maintenance efforts. It's inhibited our efforts to serve our customers," said Lein.

Lein said the amendment not only protects park revenue, but it allows the department to enter private concession agreements to run facilities like hotels and restaurants within parks.

"That just levels the playing field and the legal options we have for operating and managing our parks," he said. 

Sandra Burroughs of the Alabama State Parks Coalition said people need to realize what a great natural resource state parks are.

"When you're driving into Joe Wheeler, nine times out of 10, you're going to see some deer,” said Burroughs. “The state parks belong to the people. And the money that state parks are generating need to go back into the state parks to keep those things going."

There's no denying the beauty of Joe Wheeler State Park. It attracts guests from all over the country.

One such person, Will Valentine, said  Alabama’s state parks are much better than those in his home state of Wisconsin.

"They have user friendly facilities, more extensive than I've seen in Wisconsin," said Valentine.

Amendment 2 will be up for a statewide vote on Nov. 8.

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