Thursday, April 3, 2008

Budget Cuts are Giving Nature the Axe in New Jersey

One in five New Jersey state parks would be forced to close at the height of the summer season and 80 parks workers would be laid off as part of cost-cutting measures forced by Gov. Jon S. Corzine's austere budget.

The Department of Environmental Protection is proposing to close nine state parks entirely, slash services at three more, and reduce offseason hours at all 42 sites.

The list of parks slated for closure includes five in the Skylands region and two each in the Shore and Delaware River regions. Hours and services at three others would be drastically reduced. Parks targeted to close include High Point State Park and Round Valley Recreation Area in the north, Monmouth Battlefield State Park at the shore and Parvin State Park in the south.

The article goes on to say some 17 million New Jerseyans use these parks and the parks slated for closure had 2 million visitors last year alone. Environmentalists say the cuts are not worth the trade-off. Ya think?

This is so short-sighted to close parks to save a few million dollars. Right now New Jersey is so totally in debt, cutting this amount of nature and use to save is as someone says in the article: "draconian."

"We have too many people in government who don't understand how important parks are for the people of New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. "Not everybody can have a house on Long Beach Island or the Hamptons. This is where people go on their vacations."

Why is it I dislike Corzine more and more. He tries to run the state as if it is Goldman Sachs. Cut here, cut this. Raise taxes on the rich already! It is called progressive taxation. It is the only thing that will work that does not harm the economy, and hurts those with the most who will not even feel it. It is called populism, something I am sure Governor Corzine has not heard of often.

The list of nine state parks that would close:

-- Monmouth Battlefield State Park, 2,928 acres, Monmouth County. Visitor center, restrooms, closed.

-- Stephens State Park, 805 acres, Warren County. Camping area closed.

-- High Point State Park, 15,827 acres, Sussex County. Swimming, camping, interpretive center, office, closed. Trail access limited.

-- Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest), 36,647 acres, Burlington County. Camping, group picnic area, Indian King Tavern, office, closed. Trail access limited.

-- Round Valley Recreation Area, 3,684 acres, Hunterdon County. Swimming, camping, Wallace House, office, closed.

-- Parvin State Park, 1,952 acres, Salem County. Swimming, camping, interpretive center, office, closed.

-- Jenny Jump State Forest, 4,288 acres, Warren County. Camping and office, closed. Trail access limited.

-- Worthington State Forest, 6,584 acres, Warren County. Camping and office, closed. Trail access limited.

-- Fort Mott State Park, 104 acres, Salem County. Hancock House, historic sites, office, closed. Access to ferry service, open.

The list of three New Jersey state parks that would partially close under the proposed budget:

-- Ringwood State Park, 4,044 acres, Bergen and Passaic counties. Shepherd Lake swimming area closed; Ringwood Manor, reduced hours. State Botanical Gardens and Skylands Manor, open.

-- D&R Canal State Park, 5,379 acres, central New Jersey. Bulls Island Recreation Area closed to campers. Rockingham Historic Site and towpath, open.

-- Washington Crossing State Park, 3,126 acres, Mercer and Hunterdon counties. Significantly reduced hours at Clark House, Johnson Ferry House and the museum.

Winter hours at all remaining parks would be reduced. All but Liberty and Island Beach state parks would be closed Mondays and Tuesdays from Nov. 1 through March 31.

1 comment:

Phil and Greta said...

Jersey City Council President Vega has a colorful way of illustrating Jersey City's need for open space. He notes that when rats are packed too tightly together in a cage, they eat each other. "What does that say about urban behavior?" Vega asks. "There's a correlation between the amount of open space you have...and the mental health equation that you have in a society."