Letter to the editor: What will happen to state parks that don’t draw affluent, urban visitors?

By MARILYN MARTIN | Richland Center

In his most recent “E-Update,” Sen. Howard Marklein (17th District) touts alleged improvements to Wisconsin’s state parks, particularly Peninsula State Park, a unique park in Door County that is frequented by affluent visitors from Chicago and other urban centers.

It was Sen. Marklein who pushed Gov. Walker to eliminate $4.7 million from the state parks’ operating budget and make Wisconsin the only state in the nation requiring its parks’ operations to be self-sustaining. As a measure of his “success,” he cites the $750,000 raised from private donations by the Friends of Peninsula State Park for an observation tower that still fell miserably short of the lowest bid of $3.8 million.

Wisconsin’s gorgeous Driftless Area boasts beautiful state parks. What will happen to these western Wisconsin state parks if they do not draw affluent, urban visitors who can afford to pay increased fees? What will happen to our parks with decreased staffing and decreased funding for infrastructure repair and maintenance?

Wisconsin’s treasured public lands are intended for use by all Wisconsin residents. I commend Gov. Evers’ modest proposal for an additional $2.8 million for state parks over the next two years.And, Sen. Marklein, I strongly urge you to support it.

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