The fine weather this weekend lifted economic prospects as Vermont and other places struggle with the aftershocks of the recession. But there are signs that things may be getting better, according to WCAX-TV, Burlington, Vt.
Vermont state parks don’t open until Memorial Day, with the exception of half a dozen that will open earlier in May. By opening day several new construction projects will be finished, including solar-powered bath houses. There will be one for each of more than two-dozen Vermont state parks with overnight camping, thanks to capital spending authorized by the Legislature last year.
Forests & Parks Commissioner Jason Gibbs said, “While a lot of states are moving away from investing in their state parks system and in fact are having to make the difficult decision of closing parks or dramatically contracting their operations, Vermont’s moving in exactly the opposite direction.”
Gibbs says Vermont state parks cover 90% of their operating budgets through fees. And he says the improvements are likely to bring additional benefits to the economy and taxpayers. He says reservations for state parks are up 10% over last year.
One indication that Vermont could be headed for a stellar camping season this summer is that sales of recreational vehicles are picking up in a big way. That could reflect a shift toward less expensive vacations closer to home.
Dave McGinnis, a partner with Pete’s RV Center in South Burlington, said, “It’s been really good. We’ve had to hire two new technicians, a salesman — a couple of sales people. So you know, we’re adding personnel. So I think the campgrounds can expect a good season this year. I think there’s gong to be a lot of interest in camping in Vermont.”
Gibbs added, “Of course, the more people we get into our parks, the more money they’re spending in the local economy and the better it is for the entire state. But also, the more visits we get to our parks the better bale we are as an organization to reduce our reliance on taxpayers in difficult times.”