DENVER Colorados 42 state parks may be more heavily tapped for gas and oil extraction to feed a shrinking budget.
The State Parks Board is studying selling gas and oil mineral leases as part of a five-year plan to cut costs and keep the parks running. The agency has already dumped 12 full-time jobs, trimmed salaries and raised fees for camping, reservations and boat registration.
The agency also is looking at removing four parks from the system and expanding cost-sharing arrangements with other agencies and private groups.
Selective mineral development is another revenue-generating idea the agency is eyeing, said Colorado State Parks spokeswoman Deb Frazier.
Although visits to state parks are on the rise, reaching 12 million in 2009, state funding to the park system has been steadily dwindling. In 2009, state parks got $6.7 million in general funds, while this year the contribution dropped to $2.6 million. Next year, its likely they will get no state funding, according to a draft five-year financial plan provided to the parks board for its meeting earlier this month.