Monday, May 23, 2011

Changes Ahead For NJ State Parks to NJ might find themselves paying more to take advantage to our state parks in the future, but they might find expanded services or facilities too.

Bob Martin, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, told lawmakers recently that the DEP didn’t plan to cut services or staff when the new fiscal year starts July 1. However, state parks probably cannot rely only on tax dollars and will need to consider new ways of making parks self-sustaining financially.

For example, Bass River State Forest is a 27,635-acre tract outside of New Gretna where the state charges up to $10 per vehicle on the weekend from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. It offers canoeing, fishing and swimming in Lake Absegami, as well as camping and hiking.

To compete with other East Coast state parks, NJ parks might offer additional amenities such as concrete pads, utility hook-ups, and pull-through sites that appeal to trailer campers, general stores,and the ability to book reservations online which is helpful for both in and out-of-state vacationers. Though these would require an initial capital outlay, it would also justify higher fees. The state could also do better online marketing of its natural areas.

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