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Senate Approves Bill To Keep State Parks Open
The Senate this week unanimously approved a bill introduced by Sen. Don White (R-Indiana) to ensure the Commonwealth honors leases allowing groups to use state park facilities during impasses over the state budget.

Senate Bill 974
 preserves the rights of any group with a valid lease to use a state park regardless of any decision by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to close, restrict access to, or modify services at the facility.

"Fortunately, this wasn't an issue during this past summer despite concerns that the Administration would follow up on its threats to close state parks in the event of a stalemate over the state budget," Sen. White said. "Even so, I sincerely hope the House will quickly approve Senate Bill 974 and ensure the Commonwealth upholds its end of the bargain when it enters into agreements with groups to use Pennsylvania's state parks."

Earlier this year, DCNR Acting Secretary John Quigley unveiled a list of 50 state parks that could be closed in the event of a budget impasse. The parks have remained open during the current budget impasse, despite concerns the lack of a budget could result in closures and/or limitations of services and hours of operation.

"A number of youth organizations such as the scouts and the State Police Camp Cadet program hold leases with the DCNR to use state park facilities for special programs. Those groups were extremely concerned that the Administration would follow through on its threats, which would have jeopardized those programs. Moreover, they are concerned such fears of closure will occur on an annual basis and therefore discourage parents from enrolling their children in the various activities. My legislation will provide stability and surety for those groups and families. They will be assured that arrangements to use the state park system will not be impacted now or in the future by a budget impasse, allowing parents to confidently enroll their children in these programs," Sen. White said. "Our state parks are owned by and intended for the use of all citizens. Neither they nor the individuals and groups that enjoy them should be used as pawns to promote a political agenda."

9/14/2009

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