- Associated Press - Thursday, January 23, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A legislative report released Thursday recommends between a quarter and a half of the revenue generated by state parks in Connecticut be appropriated to the state’s parks and forests.

Currently, the vast majority of revenue generated by the parks goes to the state’s General Fund, the main spending account. According to the report, produced by nonpartisan staff of the General Assembly’s Program Review and Investigations Committee, almost all other states allow their parks to retain all or a portion of the revenues they generate.

“Connecticut is more reliant on general fund support than most other states,” the report noted. Park-generated revenues in Connecticut exceed $6 million annually.

The committee’s staff, which presented its recommendations to lawmakers on Thursday, was charged with studying the funding for Connecticut’s 107 state parks and 32 state forests, which cover roughly eight percent of the state, or 262,600 acres. They were asked to determine whether the funding is adequate to support short- and long-term operational needs.

Committee staff found that funding for state parks increased during fiscal years 2005-2010, “but there has been a downward trend since then.” The funding level for fiscal year 2013, adjusted for inflation, is slightly below the fiscal year 2006 level.

The report also found that planning within the park system is crisis driven and that the system lacks a performance-based measure. The staff recommended creating a report card for each park, highlighting attendance, safety issues, customer satisfaction and planning efforts for the park.

Also, they recommended dedicating a portion of the proceeds from the cabin rentals to help offset their maintenance costs. A special fund for those cabins was eliminated in 2010. There are currently 28 cabins available for rentals. The state plans to build up to 100 cabins.

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