Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rumored List of State Park Closings Leaked

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Southern Illinois appears to have been spared in the latest round of cutbacks just confirmed for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Jeff Lampe, outdoor writer for the Peoria Journal-Star and Prairie State Outdoors, just posted a list of 11 state parks set to close come November 1 due to cuts.

The list, confirmed with the agency, does not include any in Southern Illinois.

Lampe quotes the agency spokesman as saying 39 workers will be laid off. Those include:
25 site technician II, 4 rangers, 3, site assistant superintendents, 1 office associate (part-time), 3 office coordinators (2 part-time, 1 full-time), 1 site security officer (IFPE union), 1 natural resource coordinator and 1 natural resource specialist.

Previous stories, including one in the Chicago Tribune on August 3, put the targeted number at nine in a story about a $9 million announced cut in the budget of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The move will strain an already stressed system and could lead to the closing of as many as nine parks with low attendance figures, according to a source familiar with the issue.

The source said staff reductions could be fewer than 100 at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which oversees 122 parks and natural areas and has lost 734 staff positions since 2002. Park advocates say the cuts will result in the loss of 163 jobs.

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