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Hikers, bikers mixed on idea of closing state parks

Posted February 17, 2011 4:35 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2011 6:26 p.m. EST

— State parks would need to close two days a week to reduce spending and help balance the state budget, under a proposal outlined Thursday by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Perdue said the state Division of Parks and Recreation needs to cut its budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which starts in July, by 10 percent, or almost $3.1 million.

Closing most of the 40 state parks during a couple of weekdays would keep layoffs in the division to a minimum, the governor said, and parks officials would be given the flexibility to handle the closures so they don't affect programs and services.

Officials with the state Department of Environment and Natural resources said they plan to review Perdue's idea to see how they can help the state while still serving park-goers.

Hikers and bikers at Umstead State Park in Raleigh expressed mixed feelings about the plan.

"I could handle that. I'm not here every day of the week," said bicyclist Rick Clarke, adding that the closures aren't an ideal solution but the state needs to cut back somewhere.

"Everybody has to survive the cut and get creative to minimize the impact," he said.

"I just think it would be terrible to close that and not give people access weekly, daily," said Sheila Mitchell, who said she visits Umstead park several days a week to walk her German Shepherd or ride her bike.

"I would like to think that there would be other opportunities and other options available," she said.