Facing a cut of nearly 40 percent in its budget and projecting a loss of almost 25 percent in its revenue, Georgia's Department of Natural Resources today said it will have to cut workers and reduce services at state parks and other sites. The Georgia DNR said it will have to reduce its labor force by 12 percent and begin furloughs, cut services and access at five state parks, cut days of operation or seek more community support at 12 historic sites, and increase fees charged for lodging, recreation, programs and parking.
The DNR said it will try to find ways to make its facilities more self-sustaining and explore using private operators for lodges and golf courses.
Other details of the restructuring, according to the DNR, were:
-- Starting July 1, Bobby Brown, Hart, Providence Canyon and Sprewell Bluff state parks will have reduced services with limited facilities, no on-site manager and no emergency services. The visitor center and group shelter at Providence Canyon will close.
-- Also starting July 1 at 12 historic sites, hours of operation will be reduced. Operating agreements with local communities are being explored. The sites include Dahlonega Gold Museum, Chief Vann House, Etowah Indian Mounds, Fort Morris, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, Jarrell Plantation, New Echota, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield, Robert Toombs House, Traveler’s Rest, Jefferson Davis and Lapham-Patterson House.
-- Ninety-five full- and part-time workers will be cut. Thirty-two full-time employees will be offered part-time positions. Also 81 vacant positions will be eliminated and 23 staff members will be relocated or reassigned.
-- State parks and historic sites will charge for services that used to be free, such as interpretive programs and guided hikes.
Online at www.georgiastateparks.org, Georgia operates 48 state parks and 15 state historic sites. For more information, call 1-800-864-7275.