Fees may rise at Alabama's state parks

Florala mayor Robert Williamson can't imagine seeing the Florala State Park close, a park on the northern shore of Lake Jackson, home to 2,000 visitors every weekend during the spring and summer, according to the mayor.

"It's very vital to our area," said Williamson.

There's been talk of closing at least 9 state parks primarily because of the economy. One particular concern to the mayor is Senate bill 337, sponsored by Senator Bryan Taylor.

That proposal would take $5 million from the Alabama Department of Conservation and put it in the general fund budget. The conservation department oversees the parks and that money is used to help maintain the parks.

Senator Taylor tells WSFA 12 News this was a tough bill to sponsor but the bottom line is the general fund budget by law must be balanced.

"I do understand that. I just wish the lawmakers would look beyond the cuts and see what they could do to towns like ours. You're talking about jobs and tax revenues," said Williamson.

But there may be some breathing room for people like the mayor. WSFA 12 News has learned the Bentley administration has assured supporters of state parks in writing the parks will remain open.

Still unanswered whether the Department of Conservation will raise fees like camping and hotel rates at the park, an option still on the table.

The senate has already passed bill 337 but as of this writing it remains stalled in the house budget committee.

Part of Senate bill 337 would require the $5 million to go back to the Department of Conservation after two years.

The hope there is the economy will have rebounded by then.

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