|Millsite State Park in Ferron is one of six state parks on the state closure list.|
It was with surprise that Emery County residents learned that Millsite State Park was on the closure list for cutbacks in state parks. Huntington, Millsite and Scofield Park Manager Ron Taylor said, "There is a story behind the whole deal. Since the beginning of the last fiscal year in July 2001 early predictions were that the financial status of the state would be bad. At the request of the agency several budget reductions were taking place on-going throughout the year.
"The state parks met multiple times to meet the governor's budget requirements. We were asked statewide to come up with $400,000 in reductions. We were hit with another $1 million which was internally adjusted. These reductions had been requested and met before the legislature came into session. We had gone along with the need to tighten our belts and had done those things.
"We consolidated Scofield with Huntington and Millsite State Park. When the boating ranger at Scofield retired he was not replaced. This was a savings of $40,000 per year. Other parks such as Flaming Gorge did the same thing; employees were not replaced to meet the governor's request.
"The legislature said that state parks will reduce their ongoing budget by $500,000 by closing parks. This didn't give state parks an option. So they are following that mandate by closing parks. I don't know what the legislature was thinking. It's a hard thing to close parks. The region managers and the State Park Board all got together to decide which parks to close to save $500,000.
"Two years ago state parks asked the governor and the legislature for $10 million to bring parks up to code. We were given half of that $5 million to do that. And now they want us to close parks. After much discussion they chose six parks to be eliminated. Otter Creek-Piute, Minersville, Fort Buenaventura in Ogden, Pineview-elimination of the boating ranger, Millsite and Jordan River are on the hit list.
"It took $30,000 to run Millsite in the year 2001. Revenues from park camping fees raised $13,000 in funding. This means a saving to the state parks of between $17,000 to $20,000 per year if Millsite is closed," said Taylor.
|A public hearing concerning the Millsite closure will be held on April 3 at 6 p.m. at the Ferron City Hall.|
Millsite State Park has operated with a manager who visited the park on a daily basis. They have one seasonal employee and a green thumb volunteer who is paid by the federal government and two-four camphosts each season. The only savings to the state parks will be in the elimination of the seasonal worker position. The other positions were volunteer. The park manager will remain with his duties including Huntington and Scofield. The city would not be able to operate the park as cheaply as the state parks has done. If the city cannot take over the park then it will revert back to Bureau of Land Management because it is on BLM land.
Millsite State Park will need the support of the people in the area to be saved. Creative financing will need to be addressed to show the state parks that Millsite can be operated with minimal expense from them. It's not worth closing for a savings of $20,000 per year. The citizens of the county are needed to show up and support the park. They need to let the state parks know that they are willing to pay fees. Improvements have been seen at Millsite and the people can see they are getting something for their investment in the park. The beauty of a state park is that the money stays at that park to make it better.
The people of Emery County will lose a great place to play if state parks pulls out of Millsite. Emery County does not have a lot of developed, protected, maintained play areas. If they lose this one it will be tragic for everyone. The worry is if people do not have areas to recreate in they will find them, this type of recreation sometimes causes trouble and closes recreational opportunities for everyone. New developments should be planned and closing Millsite should not be an option.
A public hearing will be held on April 3 at 6 p.m. at the Ferron City Hall. State Park Board members will be in attendance as well as other decision makers. Let your voice be heard by attending this public hearing.