I don’t often get up on a soap box – at least I hope I don’t – unless I feel very strongly about something. Or if something really catches my interest and I just have to spread the word. That’s what’s happening today.
A couple years ago, when New York State was in the midst of a budget crisis (which is no surprise, really, we seem to have a budget crisis of some sort almost every year – maybe they we should elect a bunch of CPAs to the Legislature and Assembly), one of the ideas put forth to save money was to either severely reduce the operation of or enact the complete and immediate closure of most of our state parks and historic sites.
Fortunately the outcry against such action was resounding from just about every corner of the state, and volunteers emerged from all walks of life intent on saving our state parks. And a good thing too – I don’t know the numbers off hand, but our state parks provide a lot of revenue for the local townships and are a major reason why tourists come here from other states and Canada. New York State is lucky – we really have some beautiful areas, and a variety of parks and historic sites that can cater to people with just about every interest under the sun. And I’m a big fan of state and national parks. Without even any dedicated consideration, I can think of at least twelve I’ve been to in the last two years. And they were state and national parks I’d never been to before, for the most part!
Anyway, long story short, New York’s state parks and historic sites were saved. For the time being. Now, with the effects of the sequester starting to ripple down into the way airports and other nationally funded arenas are being run, it’s only a matter of time before the states have to tighten their belts again and consider what will be next on the chopping block in an effort to save money. I wouldn’t be surprised if the state parks make it to the top of that list at some point soon.
So it’s up to us to keep our state parks and historic sites running, and tomorrow’s a great opportunity to show our support for our fantastic local attractions. Tomorrow, May 4th, is “I Love My Park” Day here in New York State. It’s a day for New Yorkers to get up and go out to our local state parks and historic sites and help clean things up. Pull some weeds. Paint some fences. Sweep some sidewalks. For the seasonal sites, it might be a matter of getting things ship-shape for opening day. For year-round locations, it might involve cleaning up the damage from this winter. Either way, it’s a great chance to do something, and send the message to the people in charge that we love our state parks, and want to keep them going.
I personally will be spending some time tomorrow at Fort Ontario. You can register to help out at your local state park or historic site – or just show up, ready and willing!