Since 2008, the state government has slashed more than $67 million in funding for state parks, according to KATC. Those cuts have forced the state to cut more than 250 positions through layoffs and attrition.
The Lieutenant Governor’s Office; however, is looking at ways to counter those cuts.
Chicot State Park is a picturesque scene, but those who live in the area and work here are scared that visitors won’t be able to enjoy it much longer.
“We’re very worried that our park might be one of the ones that is cut, ” said Camille Fontenot, head of tourism and a resident of the area.
Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser says next year’s budget could slash funding for state parks even further, forcing the state to close some parks, including Chicot.
“With a billion dollar deficit, we’re preparing for another 10% cut. It would be devastating. I already take tourism money to fill the budget holes at the arts programs, state libraries. How much money can we take from tourism before the numbers start going down?” said Nungesser.
Nungesser says he has a solution for this problem. The state could partner with local businesses to bring activities like zip lining and canoeing to the park. Those activities, Nungesser suggests, would generate money to keep the park open.