The commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says he does not immediately foresee the state making deeper cuts to the operational budgets of its parks and historic sites. His department, like all state agencies, has complied with budget reductions requested by the governor, snipping functions and programs here and there.
Now, the very reason for the budget whackings, plummeting tax revenue, appears to be on mend. Revenues are up after having fallen substantially the past few years, the state is reporting.
This is good news indeed, particularly in coastal and near-coastal counties. Like others, this region has keenly felt the state’s reduced contribution to public-school education. There’s yelping from education officials everywhere.
Education hasn’t been the only target of budget whackers. This region of the coast also has felt the loss of state support for history and recreation. Two local historic sites — Fort Morris in Liberty County and Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation in Glynn County — are open only three days a week, Thursdays through Saturdays.
Public swimming pools in two state parks, Crooked River in Camden County and Laura S. Walker in Ware County, remain closed because the state says it can’t afford the equipment needed to bring the pools in compliance with new standards. Consequently, two pools that are usually popular in the summer have not opened for some time. Hopefully, part of the $12 million DNR Commissioner Mark Williams says he will request for maintenance will be designated for these two parks. It would be nice for both to be fully functional again.
Historic sites that are just limping along until the state regains its financial footing should be next on the list, or at least before the Department of Natural Resources engages in any new projects. Fort Morris and Hofwyl have been around for a long time. They are part of the state landscape, its history and heritage, and should be open more than just a few days a week to Georgians and visitors.