4.05.2012

Illinois State Park Fees

I recently read that the State of Illinois was considering charging fees for access to State Parks. This is a normal practice in other states, and for National Parks.

I started laughing because this is the year I'm all about camping at state parks. Go figure?

So what are they really talking about down in Springfield? Well, Bill HB 5789, sponsored by Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch, proposes a fee be charged for access to help support the Department of Natural Resources with the upkeep and other expenses related to maintaining state parks. The House passed the bill 81-29 on March 26, and Illinois Governor Quinn supported the measure. 

This new parks fee isn't slated to kick in until 2013, since the process to implement it isn't up and running yet. The State Journal Register down in Springfield IL has a great opinion piece titled "Our Opinion: User fees practical way to help parks" which I found enlightening.

I don't mind paying to access a park because it's a way to keep the natural heritage alive and kicking in our area. I also don't mind sending moneys to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources because they help keep the Illinois Becoming an Outdoors Woman program alive--among many, many other great initiatives to enjoy Illinois' natural beauty.

But I'll be honest, I'm crossing my fingers hoping the moneys really do end up going to the IL DNR and not to some other debt the state owes. It's a shame they've let the financial picture run itself ragged in recent years. I'm still aching from that 5% income tax increase last year.