To: Friends of Birchwood Lodge and Lovers of Door County State Parks
Wisconsin legislators are currently meeting in Madison to finalize the state budget as proposed by Governor Walker. There are several budget proposals that will have a negative impact on state parks and the economy of Door County if the budget is approved in its current form. We are particularly disturbed by plans which call for drastic cuts to the Department of Natural Resources, the agency which oversees the state parks. Door County’s five state parks, Newport State Park, Peninsula State Park, Potawatomi State Park, Rock Island State Park and Whitefish Dunes State Park will be affected. Our state parks are to Door County what Lambeau Field is to Green Bay. Some of the budget suggestions include eliminating the park naturalists, the very people who create programs for visitors. Part of the discussion is to outsource these jobs to a private contractor, who may not have the training and experience in parks and outdoor sciences. The budget also calls for the elimination of ALL taxpayer support for the parks. If Wisconsin held a referendum on this question, there would likely be a resounding outcry to oppose the budget cuts and save the parks. Most disturbing among the proposed changes is the possibility of granting naming rights for the state parks to wealthy donors and corporations. That could lead to privatizing sections of the parks for private use and the possibility for development. Recently, we sent letters to our Representative in the State Assembly and our State Senator asking them to oppose these drastic cuts to the DNR. This issue affects all of us. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, maintaining the integrity of our state parks is of primary importance for every person who lives in Wisconsin. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please consider contacting your Assembly Representative and State Senator and voice your concerns.