When outgoing Governor Bill Ritter issued his budget earlier this week, one of the many places he identified for cuts was the Colorado State Parks system, proposing to eliminate $2.7 million in state funding, likely prompting a $1 increase in daily fees, according to The Associated Press. But even a small increase in fees wouldn't be enough to address the system's budget woes.
A new, five-year financial plan expresses doubt that there will be money from the state next year, calling for the closure of up to four state parks and opening up others to corporate sponsorships, as well as oil-and-gas development, reports the Fort Collins Coloradoan. State funding for parks has dropped from $6.7 million in 2009 to $2.6 million in the current fiscal year, leaving less-traversed parks on the potential chopping block. Four parks could be removed from the system altogether: eastern Colorado's Bonny Lake State Park, Sweitzer Lake State Park near Delta, Paonia State Park in Gunnison County, and Harvey Gap State Park near Silt. A proposed 2012 ballot issue could ask voters to support a tax increase to help fund parks or, in some cases, parks could be handed to other agencies.