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HOME arrow - Privatization arrow CO State Parks take another step in privatization direction
CO State Parks take another step in privatization direction
Written by Scott Silver   
Wednesday, 19 January 2005

Yesterday I shared a State Park privatization article from New Hampshire and provided, in my introduction, some of the missing background. Pasted below is another State Park privatization article as well as a little background of relevance. This article comes from today's Denver Post and thought it's short and never says a word about privatization, it still manages to include several of the most common privatization components, including:

   ...over-reliance upon volunteers and "friends" groups ...not maintaining existing facilities while building new ...cutting use of general fund revenues, and ...being predicated upon the charging of user-fees.

What's particularly noteworthy about this article (though not mentioned in the piece) is the fact that the current Director of Colorado State Parks is Lyle Laverty. As Director of Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness Resources for the US Forest Service, Laverty oversaw the introduction of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program and it was Laverty who was frequently to be seen keeping company with the folks who created fee-demo, the American Recreation Coalition.

You can read Laverty's Fee-Demo Congressional Testimony here.  If you continue reading past Laverty's statement, you will come upon the testimony of Derrick Crandall, President of the ARC. It makes interesting reading and is entirely relevant to the unfolding parks privatization story.

Is it just a coincidence that the particular State Park systems that seem to be at the forefront of the privatization curve have connections to the ARC?

Scott

PS.... Laverty and Crandall have, since the mid 90's, worked in concert responding specifically and directly to Wild Wilderness' effort to tell the truth about the commercialization / privatization agenda. Here is a link to an ARC document that helps reveal the nature of their collusion.

---begin quoted ---

January 19, 2005
Plan seeks new state park
First 5-year strategy calls for shift in how fees are set
By Arthur Kane Denver Post Staff Writer


The state parks department wants to open another park by 2009 and set its own fees without legislative approval under a five-year plan it is finalizing.

The plan marks the first time the parks department has looked ahead more than a year, and parks officials are asking park users for their thoughts.

Alan Kania, president of Friends of Castlewood Canyon, said he generally likes the proposal but is concerned that volunteers will bear the burden of maintaining parks and questioned whether it is wise to add another park without making sure current areas are well- maintained.

"There's an awful lot of reliance on volunteer and friends groups to make up some of the shortcomings of the General Assembly," he said. "And existing parks need to be given first priority."

As with other state agencies, budget problems have put pressure on the parks to meet the demands of residents and visitors.

The plan projects that the state's population will increase from 4.5 million to 6.6 million in the next 20 years and says more than 90 percent of Coloradans regularly use recreation trails.

Colorado State Parks spokesman Gary Thorson said the state parks will have to accommodate more people, so the department needs to add another park on the Front Range. The department has not identified the exact area of the new park.

The plan also would seek legislation in 2006 to allow the Colorado State Parks Board to set the fees at the state's 41 parks instead of having to get legislative approval.

"We think it's the right step to take if we're going to be operating more like a business," Thorson said.

State Sen. Jim Isgar, a Hesperus Democrat who heads the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee, said the legislature has to approve fee increases as long as those revenues count under the TABOR constitutional amendment that limits government spending.

To avoid that, the department would have to receive "enterprise status," which allows a state division that receives less than 10 percent of its funding from taxes to operate more independently and without TABOR limits.

The strategic plan also requires that the department set construction standards for park trails, utilities and parking lots by July, find money to build more trails by July 2006 and create an Internet map of trails by July 2007.

Parks officials will accept comments through Friday and put together a final plan in April. The draft plan is available at the department's website, www.parks.state.co.us.

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