New State Parks Director Vows to Keep Them Open

(KCPW News) Utah’s new director of state parks says don’t plan on seeing park closures anytime soon. Fred Hayes, who took over the position at the end of April, spoke to lawmakers at the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment interim committee meeting this morning, saying he will do everything in his power to keep all 43 state parks up and running.

“My personal belief is that an open park for the people to enjoy under any management scenario is better than a closed park. So the phrase I used then was ‘over my dead body.’ We’re not interested in closing parks. The people of the state have put way too much into them and count on those for their family recreation,” he says.

Republican Representative Roger Barrus, who co-chairs the committee, agreed with Hayes, saying it might take some creativity, but lawmakers do not want to see state parks fail.

“The reason that these state parks were created, each one of them, there was a reason, whether it was a recreation, whether it was a heritage park, whether it was something that was something that was important to a local area, and those reasons are still viable today,” says Barrus. “That means that we have to look at solutions that may be different than we’ve looked at in the past”

Utah lawmakers have considered privatizing state parks in recent years due to budget concerns. And the amount of money they receive from the general fund has dropped from more than $12 million  to $4 million.