(This piece was originally published on March 30, 2017 on RTV-6.)
Environmental groups are pushing the Indiana state legislature to devote more money to fixing and maintaining Indiana’s state parks.
Tim Maloney, senior policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council, expressed concern Thursday that the money dedicated to repairs has been dropping over the last ten years and it’s starting to take its toll on Indiana’s parks.
“They’re part of what makes Indiana special not just for the people that live here, but for the people that come and visit,” said Maloney. “We have 16 million come to our state parks and recreation areas. They spend a lot of money.”
Maloney pointed to photos from Brown County State Park that show cracks in picnic shelters, crumbling stone walls and dilapidated boardwalks.
“I think we’re sending the wrong message when we’re keeping those facilities in a state of disrepair,” said Maloney. “The buildings, the shelters, the trails, the infrastructure, water and waste water, those are all as critical as the investment we’re giving to roads and other infrastructure.”
Indiana Department of Natural Resources has more than 3,000 structures at its state forests, state parks, trails, natural preserves and outdoor recreational facilities, records show.
The DNR needs about $60 million to fix trails, shelters, and other infrastructure, Maloney said, but the budget bill passed by the House calls for $38.3 million over two years, or about $19 million a year.
“We don’t think that’s enough to get the job done,” said Maloney. “We’d like to see a boost in the appropriation for the Department of Natural Resources, their construction budget that would bring it back to levels we saw 10 years ago.”
Call 6 Investigates requested a list of needed from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, however, the agency denied our request.
Joe Hoage, general counsel for DNR, called the list a “deliberative document” and also denied requests from environmentalists who requested a specific list of things that need to be fixed.
Click here for a list of state parks.