Louisiana spent $13 million on Palmetto Island State Park, building vacation cabins, a campground, picnic facilities and a floating fishing pier on a picturesque bayou in Vermilion Parish.
But parks officials said Tuesday that Palmetto Island won’t be able to open later this year as scheduled, based on the funding proposed in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget recommendations.
Stuart Johnson, assistant secretary of the Office of State Parks, told the Senate Finance Committee that the governor’s budget wouldn’t pay for the new park’s opening and would force other parks to close.
“We’re going to have to make some tough decisions because we don’t want to thin the soup any more,” Johnson said. “It will mean shutting down the parks that don’t have as high visitation so we have the resources to maintain those parks that have higher visitation.”
The governor proposed an $11.4 million cut to the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism – which includes the state parks office – about a 14 percent cut to the department’s budget, dropping it to $83.4 million. Most agencies face budget cuts proposed in next year’s 2010-11 spending plan, to cope with a nearly $1 billion decrease in state revenue.