Don’t spare money, spare our parks

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice cancelled a program on Wednesday that would have charged state park visitors a $2 cover fee.

Now, I’m a 21-year-old broke college student so I’m a firm believer in the old adage that every dollar counts.

However, when I step back and think about the cancellation of this program, I can’t help but be a little perplexed.

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Photo by Jordan Cope: A tree is coated with a trailblazer at Gunpowder Falls State Park in Harford County, Maryland.

Growing up in Harford County, Maryland, I never had to pay a cover charge to go into any of my favorite local state parks.

It wasn’t until I moved to Edgemere, Maryland, to help take care of my aging grandmother that I realized that some state parks had a cover fee.

I remember my first time ever visiting North Point State Park. I drove my truck through what felt like a never ending maze of pavement until I found myself at a kiosk. At the kiosk was a park employee asking me for $3, which I did not have.

That day, I was told nicely to leave so I went to Fort Howard Park instead. However, the next day I came back to North Point with my $3.

When I stepped foot into the park I realized something, the park was very well kept. The lawn was cut beautifully, the brush was trimmed down and there was less trash scattered throughout the park.

It was then I realized that in addition to tax payer money and donations, the park was kept so well in large part to the cover fee.

Not only that, the park was still operating in large part to the cover charge. In fact, many parks across the country are cutting hours just to save money on the daily costs of operation.

So, what’s the solution? The broke college student in me that wants to go out every weekend says no cover charge, but the environmentalist and conservationist in me says go ahead with a cover charge.

Ultimately, we only have one planet to live on. Just one. So if the park services are using my cover charge money as an opportunity to make the establishment better, I’m all for it.

If that means I have to spare a few more dollars in my bank account to go to my favorite state parks, fine. Just continue to keep the parks I’ve fallen in love with happy, healthy and beautiful.

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