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State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
May 28, 2009 5:51pm
Board
I got a message today that Bobby Brown State Park, Hart State Park, Providence Canyon Conservation Park and Pickett's Mill State Historic Site will be closing in June. It didn't give an specific date, but any reservation made for after the 17th will be cancelled.

Best I can tell, only Hart and Pickett's Mill has letterboxes. I would assume that whoever owns those would need to pull them before the 17th.

It's really sad that it has come to this. Maybe those parks will be turned into county parks. I don't know what's the plan for these parks. If you know, pass on the news.

Mello Bunny
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #395300 by Mello Bunny
May 28, 2009 6:14pm
Board
Here's the info from the State Park website. It doesn't look like any of them are closing, but will just have reduced services.

· Beginning July 1, Bobby Brown, Hart, Providence Canyon and Sprewell Bluff state parks will have reduced services with limited facilities, no on-site manager and no emergency services. Neighboring parks will provide oversight. Boat ramps at Bobby Brown and Hart will remain open, but camping will become seasonal. The yurts at Bobby Brown will be relocated to other parks. The five cottages at Hart will close, as will the visitor center and group shelter at Providence Canyon. The only change at Sweetwater Creek State Park will be a reduction in days of operation at the visitor center, from seven to four days per week.

Same with the historic sites.

· At 12 state historic sites, hours of operation will be reduced with management transferring to nearby state parks. Possible operating agreements with local communities are being explored and future closures are possible. The impacted sites include Dahlonega Gold Museum, Chief Vann House, Etowah Indian Mounds, Fort Morris, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, Jarrell Plantation, New Echota, Pickett’s Mill Battlefield, Robert Toombs House, Traveler’s Rest, Jefferson Davis and Lapham-Patterson House. Changes begin July 1.

For more info:
http://www.gastateparks.org/core/item/page.aspx?s=168422.0.0.5
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #395300 by Mello Bunny
May 28, 2009 6:47pm
Board
I don't know what's the plan for these parks.

One would hope they'd be reopened with the budget gets better!

Perhaps not to be relied upon, though; I've found many geocaches in parks that had been closed for years.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #395300 by Mello Bunny
May 28, 2009 7:40pm
Board
Ten or twenty years ago Connecticut also "closed" several state parks, but they all remained open for hiking. In some ways it was kind of nice, because places that used to have big crowds were empty.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #395322 by karmakat
May 29, 2009 6:12am
Board
Sprewell Bluff state parks will have reduced services with limited facilities

Ouch! Got a big series there...

Jarrell Plantation

Double ouch! Shutterbug and I were both planning on planting out there.

So they'll still be open just not as well managed?
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #395378 by Trailhead Tessie
May 29, 2009 3:27pm
Board
Ten or twenty years ago Connecticut also "closed" several state parks, but they all remained open for hiking. In some ways it was kind of nice, because places that used to have big crowds were empty.

So does that mean that the "closed" parks could become letterbox havens?

Of course, right now I'm so upset with Georgia State Parks I could spit fire.

Mello Bunny, who will be visiting the state parks on Wednesdays when it's free
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #395721 by Mello Bunny
May 30, 2009 9:13pm
Board
I've talked with the man in charge of all the state parks south of I-20 and west of I-75.

Having to make recommendations as to which parks will have services and staff cut was, "one of the worst things I've ever done. I hate to see the parks suffer like this, but Gov. Perdue asked for 10% minimum budget cuts across the board, in every department."

So point your finger (and direct your fire) at Sonny and the people who work for him who couldn't proactively balance the budget a few years back so we wouldn't be in this crisis now.

Ranting aside...

visiting the state parks on Wednesdays when it's free

You can also check out a park pass from your local library, but neither option actually puts money in the bank, and that's what the problem is.

The best thing to do is buy a Friends of GA State Parks membership. While rates for GA SP annual passes have increased, Friends membership rates have not. So you can buy a Friends membership, which gets you a park pass plus other perks for less than an annual pass alone!!

http://www.friendsofgastateparks.org/friends/

But don't wait too long! It's possible the GA DNR will formally request that the Friends organization raise its rates. If/When that will be, who knows?

IMPORTANT NOTE:
There's a brand-new letter at the link above from Chris Clark, the new DNR Commissioner, talking about this very thing.

This ISN'T the time to be abandoning our Georgia state parks! This is the time to be throwing support at the parks, by paying $5 to visit (or buying a pass) and by volunteering (as a Friends member).

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396163 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 6:11am
Board
Maybe Sonny can just lead a prayer vigil for Georgia to recieve lots of money. It worked so well when he did his rain dance.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396163 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 6:19am
Board
I'm not mad at the Georgia State Parks because they are closing parks or reducing services. I know that's not their fault. I know it's the fault of Sonny "let's build more HOV lanes" Perdue. But he's not the one to blame for bad customer service. Really, I decided to not to renew my Friends of GA State Parks membership months ago, before the budget cuts, higher parking fees or closing parks. I wouldn't mind paying more and would gladly do it, if I could get good customer service. Going to parks when it's free, at least I'm getting what I paid for.

Mello Bunny
who supports the parks by paying taxes

By the way, if they knew what they were doing they could be making more money by advertising "staycations". Offering five star accommodation at one star prices. A quick way to get away. Paradise around the corner. From the mountains to the ocean, Georgia has it all. How many families think they couldn't afford a vacation, but really could afford a weekend at a state park?
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396163 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 6:41am
Board
Hey *S

So point your finger (and direct your fire) at Sonny and the people who work for him who couldn't proactively balance the budget a few years back so we wouldn't be in this crisis now.

A really well-put message about parks in general and about budgeting in general in my state of Ohio AND um, well, our nation. Very often those in charge of the moola have no clue about finances?!

That is not at all a Republican or Democratic slam because all are equally guilty----just a statement that it's horrible how sloppy things can get when it comes to money. Once staffs are cuts for parks and things start to decline, it often takes more money to recover because of repairs etc.

Plus your state of GA has so many, many natural resources and parks, it's no small deal, that's for sure.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396201 by Mello Bunny
May 31, 2009 7:20am
Board
I know it's the fault of Sonny "let's build more HOV lanes" Perdue.

I dunno if it's still true, but at one time the Feds prohibited states from widening highways beyond 4 or 6 lanes without creating HOV lanes or some other scheme to promote more efficient travel. It's either build an HOV lane or no lane at all. The area of I-4 around Disney World got really silly for a while because it really could use 8 or 10 lanes but the Feds wouldn't permit it. It has them now, though, so either an exemption was written or somebody repealed the stupid requirement.

By the way, if they knew what they were doing they could be making more money by advertising "staycations".

I believe the term "staycation" refers to having a vacation in your own back yard, not at the nearest State Park. At a State Park would still be a vacation. Of course, I do agree with your contention. It's amazing how many people take vacations far, far from home but never even consider visiting some place that's only a coupla hours' drive away -- even when they live in some place that people far, far away are taking their vacations to.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396209 by Trailtracker
May 31, 2009 7:22am
Board
Very often those in charge of the moola have no clue about finances?!

Sure they do! Spending money gets votes. Raising taxes loses votes. What else do they need to know?
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396201 by Mello Bunny
May 31, 2009 7:50am
Board
Really, I decided to not to renew my Friends of GA State Parks membership months ago, before the budget cuts, higher parking fees or closing parks. I wouldn't mind paying more and would gladly do it, if I could get good customer service.

I'm curious to know what experiences you've had with customer service at the parks. I haven't had any memorably bad experiences, but I haven't had any remarkably good ones, either. It IS, after all, a state park system where you're pretty much at the mercy of your own whims. It's state parks @ $5 a day for a family of 4 or Disney @ $350+ a day for that same family.

And, the following general statement is an unpaid advertisement... ;-)

Being a Friends member and receiving the discounts and perks has a "price" beyond the $$ you hand over for membership, and that little bit extra -- volunteering -- carries rewards greater than 10% off in the gift shop and the free night of camping.

It's certainly not obligatory that you volunteer, but when you do it changes your perspective. You get to know the folks who work at the park, you get to know the park, you learn what its strengths and weaknesses are from an insider's POV, you have the ability to change the park for the better... and in my case, you get to find all the best hiding spots before the park is even open... ;-)

I bring that up because there's talk of the state parks affected by the budget cuts maintaining some operations as they are now with volunteers. The first volunteers in line: Friends of GA SP -- quite possibly the new face of customer service at GA State Parks.

By the way, if they knew what they were doing they could be making more money by advertising "staycations". Offering five star accommodation at one star prices.

They are. Check out the upgraded Friends site. ;-)

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396199 by Mooky
May 31, 2009 7:52am
Board
Maybe Sonny can just lead a prayer vigil for Georgia to recieve lots of money. It worked so well when he did his rain dance.

He can't frickin do that until he legalizes the sale of beer on Sunday.

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396225 by Kirbert
May 31, 2009 9:04am
Board
I believe the term "staycation" refers to having a vacation in your own back yard, not at the nearest State Park.

I thought it meant stay at home but visiting local attractions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staycation

That's how I meant it. I guess I didn't make that clear.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396225 by Kirbert
May 31, 2009 9:26am
Board
I believe the term "staycation" refers to having a vacation in your own back yard, not at the nearest State Park.

In a word: No.

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396262 by Mello Bunny
May 31, 2009 9:27am
Board
I thought it meant stay at home but visiting local attractions.

In a word: Yes.

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396270 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 9:30am
Board
The "There Will Be Marshmallows" event at FDR State Park is the PERFECT example of a staycation.

Leave home, spend a couple days camping, 'boxing, etc., round-trip is less than four hours, and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396235 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 9:55am
Board
I'm curious to know what experiences you've had with customer service at the parks.

First I like to say my problem is not with the front line people. They're fine, like you said, nothing that bad, but nothing that great. My problem is with policies that don't put the customer first. Most specifically, the cancellation policies for camping. You basically get punished if you don't want to camp in the rain or something comes up that prevents you from going. Because of their polices of charging two night if you cancel or change your plans less than three days before your reservation, we have:

1. Camped in the rain.

2. Paid for camping when we didn't go.

3. Paid for camp sites at two parks for the same weekend.

In all three situation, the forecast three days out was fine, but as it got closer to the date, it wasn't so fine. In all three situation, all I really wanted to do was change the date. For There Will Be Marshmallows I got a prayer chain going.

The last straw was with the closing parks. I had reservations for a family reunion on July 11th at Picketts Mill. I paid $125. Not that bad for what we were getting. Picketts Mill is one of the closing parks and my reservations have been cancelled. I called to change the location and they wanted to charge me $50 more. I know I said I would gladly pay more, but that wasn't 100% true. I don't mind the increase in parking. I still cheaper to park at a state park than in most major cities in America. And I wouldn't mind paying the extra $50 if I was changing the location because I wanted to, but I don't. The second facility is not as nice as the one at Picketts Mill. Because of their unwillingness to do right by their customers, they will not get an extra $50, they also won't get $125 and they won't get $5 parking fee per car for about 30 families. I would say that's pretty poor management.

They are. Check out the upgraded Friends site

I shouldn't have to go looking to find out what they have to offer. Most people, I suspect, don't know what they have to offer and wouldn't think to look. I should be hearing advertisements on the radio like I do for South Carolina State Parks.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396282 by Mello Bunny
May 31, 2009 2:14pm
Board
I should be hearing advertisements on the radio like I do for South Carolina State Parks.

Unfortunately, that costs big $$$. GA doesn't have it and I'm not sure how SC does either. I agree that it would be wonderful...just don't think it is reasonable in these times.

While I don't get why they would charge anyone a fee to change reservations when the State Park cancelled the original reservation, I do understand the three day rule. They are trying to cover their bases. If people are allowed to "save" a campsite and then change their minds for whatever reason at the last minute, the park loses out on another potential camper paying for that spot. Rain is just a camping hazard for me...it happens.

Interesting discussion...it is good to hear all of the different opinions!
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396355 by Mark4
May 31, 2009 3:06pm
Board
Unfortunately, that costs big $$$. GA doesn't have it and I'm not sure how SC does either. I agree that it would be wonderful...just don't think it is reasonable in these times.

How can any business expect to make money without letting everyone know what products and services they offer? Sure it's expensive to make a commercial to show during prime time, but that might not be needed. The radio ads I'm sure are a lot cheaper.

Then there are other ways to advertise. Get a travel journalist to write a story about the parks. Get the local news to do a travel segment. At the very least, advertise on the internet and point people to the website. When I google hiking in Georgia, camping in Georgia, Bicycling in Georgia, cheap vacations in Georgia, family fun in Georgia, the parks website doesn't come up. That needs to change.

I know advertising isn't free, but how could they afford not to?
Re: Georgia State Parks Still Alive!!
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396369 by Mello Bunny
May 31, 2009 7:50pm
Board
First, I'm sorry you had an unpleasant experience. I have to ask, though: with whom were you dealing? A park employee, the park management or someone higher up in the chain?

Second, a new Commissioner just took the reins at GADNR, and he's a big-time State Park supporter. I wouldn't be surprised to see (or hear) an increase in advertising. Prime-time national network advertising doesn't work for local causes like this, with the exception of car dealers. The DNR would be wise to put its money where the audience it really wants to attract is: public broadcasting channels; Discovery, TLC, and Travel Channel (to name a few) through local cable networks. And then there are local papers, outdoors magazines, outfitter websites.

Backing up a little bit: the GA State Parks recently revamped its marketing strategy. It's gotten better, but there is still significant improvement to be made. The Friends of GA SP have jumped on the bandwagon, too. The direct marketing we've been doing for the new Chattahoochee Bend SP is "astounding" (word of the man in charge of the Friends org.). We already have 40 members for a park that won't be officially open until next year, and we expect to add another dozen during our first annual meeting next weekend.

The customer service issues, however, are embedded in bureaucratic policies that won't change overnight, so there will, unfortunately, be circumstances like the one you experienced... until the right people get involved and make the change happen.

However... as is the case with many customer NO-service issues, going up the hierarchy to get satisfaction is your best bet. It may be too late for that now, but hopefully the stain it's left will fade quickly.

Happy trails!

*S
Re: Georgia State Parks Still Alive!!
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396485 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 9:13pm
Board
First, I'm sorry you had an unpleasant experience. I have to ask, though: with whom were you dealing? A park employee, the park management or someone higher up in the chain?

It's the reservation center. First I talked to the poor lady that answered the phone, then her supervisor and tomorrow I will talk to the Assistant Manager of the DNR. She only works Monday - Thursday and I called on Friday.

I won't totally abandon the parks and maybe this fall, when I get the camping urge, I will feel different. Only time will tell.
Re: Georgia State Parks Still Alive!!
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396503 by Mello Bunny
May 31, 2009 9:20pm
Board
tomorrow I will talk to the Assistant Manager of the DNR

heh... when you do, tell her we'd like a couple inches of pine straw spread on every campsite... ;-)

*S
Re: Georgia State Parks Still Alive!!
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396508 by BrewHiker
May 31, 2009 9:24pm
Board
heh... when you do, tell her we'd like a couple inches of pine straw spread on every campsite... ;-)

Sure. I'll add it to my list. She won't think I'm crazy at all.
Re: Georgia State Parks Still Alive!!
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396485 by BrewHiker
Jun 1, 2009 12:54am
Board
The DNR would be wise to put its money where the audience it really wants to attract is: public broadcasting channels

They do sort of already do this. The show Georgia Outdoors as well as the Georgia Traveler are always highlighting the state parks....but unfortunately the numbers of folks that watch PBS is probably smaller than any other network.
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396235 by BrewHiker
Jun 1, 2009 5:18am
Board
Being a Friends member and receiving the discounts and perks has a "price" beyond the $$ you hand over for membership, and that little bit extra -- volunteering -- carries rewards greater than 10% off in the gift shop and the free night of camping.

I'm just curious - what kind of things are there for you to volunteer to do?
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396568 by buttercup
Jun 1, 2009 7:24am
Board
I'm just curious - what kind of things are there for you to volunteer to do?

I just researched and planted a series in Reed Bingham State Park in SW GA and discovered this volunteering opportunity. Sounds very interesting!

http://www.gastateparks.org/core/item/page.aspx?s=167648.0.1.5

MH
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396568 by buttercup
Jun 1, 2009 7:33am
Board
what kind of things are there for you to volunteer to do?

Whew... if I were to list everything, you'd be reading for a long time!

So let's go with what we'll be doing in the near future at Chattahoochee Bend...

  • clean-up
  • rare/endangered flora protection
  • history hikes
  • archaeological scouting
  • mapping
  • trail blazing
  • trail building

and, of course, letterboxing...

*S
Re: State Parks Closing
Board: State: Georgia
Reply to: #396623 by BrewHiker
Jun 1, 2009 7:34am
Board
Alright....so I bought a family membership to the Friends of GA State Parks too....I meant to do it originally when you sent out the details....

VERY COOL!
Thanks for the info!
-ShutterBug