The Ohio Department of Natural Resources could lose 41% of state funding by 2011 under a proposal to reduce the state’s $3.2 billion budget shortfall, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Part of the solution would be closing some of the 55 campgrounds and 9,000 campsites throughout the state, Director Sean Logan said.
Campgrounds that don’t produce much income, such as the Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe, would be closed, he said. Some campsites at larger facilities, such as East Fork in Clermont County, also would be temporarily closed.
Logan said some state forests would have no staff if the cuts are enacted but would not be closed to the public. “Access to nature should never be limited to your ability to pay. We’re going find a way to make it work,” Logan said.
“It looks like things are progressing, but we need more time to continue working through different parts of the budget,” said Keary McCarthy, spokesman for House Speaker Armond Budish, D-Beachwood.
Lawmakers might get a little wiggle room with the timing. If the budget is not approved or signed until after Wednesday, the start of the 2010 fiscal year, state employees still will be paid as usual, said Ron Sylvester of the Department of Administrative Services, the business branch of state government.
Checks issued Thursday will cover the two-week pay period ending June 20.
Gov. Ted Strickland and legislative leaders have been working in private to iron out more than 500 policy differences between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the budget — and find a way to fix the $3.2 billion shortfall.
The latter is proving particularly difficult. Strickland proposed $2.4 billion in cuts, many to popular agencies and programs, and has said he wants to raise $933 million by placing slot machines at Ohio’s seven racetracks.