AL state park revenue discussed in public meeting - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

AL state park revenue discussed in public meeting

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By: Dorothy Sherman

AUBURN, AL - The Alabama State Park system is celebrating it's 75th anniversary with an "open house and learning session" series at or around state parks across Alabama.  Monday night they made a stop at the Auburn Council Chambers to discuss Chewacla State Park.

It was a public meeting on Alabama State Parks that educated people on many things including parks revenue.  Alabama state parks are funded by a "user-pay" system.

"People that are coming into the park and are paying the entrance fee or they're staying in the campground and paying that campground fee or in the cabin. Those are the revenues in the park system on what runs the system," Director of Alabama's State Parks System, Greg Lein said.

Compared to Alabama's other 21 parks Chewacla ranks 11th in customers and revenue, and unlike some parks Chewacla operates in the black.

"Chewacla takes in about 400,000 dollars of revenue in a given year, and it's operational expense is around 290,000 dollars.  So, it is well in the black," Lein said.

Lein said partnerships with organizations like Central Alabama Mountain Peddlers or C.A.M.P., a local non-profit organization, is a reason Chewacla is in the black.  Over the past few years C.A.M.P. has built several new mountain biking trails, luring in more customers

"Those trails are so new and well received that we've got people traveling all over the country to ride their at Chewacla and everyone goes in the gate and they pay their entrance fee," Lein said
 
Philip Darden, president of C.A.M.P., said the organization started in 2012, and in the past few years there's been an explosive increase of people visiting Chewacla.

"Annual numbers from 2010 to 2013 there's been 14,000 more people visiting the park since 2010," Darden said.  "The park is kind of on the same page that we are, that our trails have helped really invigorate a good energy at the park and bring a lot of people in and get people excited about the park again."

As for the statewide public meetings Lein said their goal is to get educate the public, listen to citizen feedback and work toward a five-year plan for state parks in Alabama. 

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