Hyrum State Park Threated by Budget Cuts

Hyrum State Park Threated by Budget Cuts

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Hyrum State Park is among 11 parks facing an uncertain future under budget cuts proposed for the state Division of State Parks.

The Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee has recommended slashing $300,000 from the division's operating budget in fiscal 2006, which begins July 1.

If the Legislature approves the recommendation, the 264-acre Hyrum State Park and 10 other parks could face closure.

Steve Roberts, deputy director for administration for the Division of State Parks, said division officials probably won't know the final status of the budget until the legislative session ends in early March.

He said if closures have to be made, they'll be based on how much would be saved from the general fund.

"There's been no attempt to identify any specific park for any reason other than how many dollars they take out of the general fund balance," he said.

In 2004, Hyrum State Park received $70,100 in general fund appropriations.

On Friday, the park's manager expressed measured concern.

"There is that potential (for closure), but I think things will be worked out and sorted out long before we have to close any parks," said Lee Gyllenskog.

Gyllenskog said Hyrum State Park drew about 80,000 visitors last year.

Rep. Bradley Johnson, R-Aurora and co-chairman of the subcommittee, said, "No one really wanted the parks closed, but we just had higher priorities," he said.

However, he said he doesn't believe any parks will have to be closed.

"The Legislature is not finished yet, and the appropriations process is not finished. It's too early to be talking about park closures. There may be one or two parks that should be closed, but I won't make that judgment," he said.

Roberts questioned why the division's funding has to be cut in a year of budget surpluses.

"If funding parks isn't a priority in a year when you have surpluses, is it ever a priority? And if it never is, why do we have a system?" he said.

If closures do become necessary, Roberts said parks officials most likely will follow the same course of action they took three years ago when Minersville, the Jordan River Parkway and Fort Buenaventura in Ogden all came under the budget knife.

The State Parks Board would conduct public hearings in affected areas before considering its options. Then, in April, it would move forward.

"If it comes to closures, it's a policy decision," Roberts said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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