Consider This: Fix Mississippi’s state parks

Published: May. 28, 2021 at 2:58 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As we head into what is the unofficial start of summer, families are eager to head out on vacation, especially after a year like 2020 where many people were stuck at home. One appealing option is a getaway to a state park, just not in Mississippi. State leaders have not invested in the park system and many of the amenities are in disrepair. The budgets and staffing have been slashed in recent years. Our state parks are uninviting places. State parks officials in Mississippi say they have nearly $150 million in maintenance and repairs that need to be addressed.

There was proposed legislation this past session that would have done everything from providing additional funding to fix the parks, spend more money on marketing the facilities and even privatizing the state-owned properties. None of those bills survived.

Mississippians love the outdoors, and our state is known for its outdoor activities. Sadly, our state parks do not present a great reason for people to vacation or staycation here. Our neighboring states have invested in their parks and other tourism projects--think Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail--and they are benefiting from the influx of travel spending.

Tourism is big money and people want to get outdoors. We have great weather nearly year-round and could become an appealing camping destination if we invest in our state parks. We are pacing to have a record year for revenue collections and those surplus funds would be well spent on improving our state parks. State leaders have plenty of time before the next session to come up with a plan that the house and senate can support and make that happen.

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