State: OMSP not in danger of closing

Oak Mountain State Park is not in danger of closing due to a state funding shortfall, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. (File)

Oak Mountain State Park is not in danger of closing due to a state funding shortfall, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

PELHAM – Oak Mountain State Park is not among the parks in danger of closing due to a state funding shortfall, according to Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural officials.

On April 15, Alabama State Parks System Director Greg Lein issued a statement announcing potential emergency state park closures over the next few months if the Alabama Legislature transfers money from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ budget to help cover a state general fund budget shortfall.

“Recently, we were notified of the legislature’s intent to transfer $11.4 million of funds from the 2016 Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources budget,” Lein’s statement read. “The majority of these funds are to be transferred from ADCNR ($10.4 million) would come from the State Parks system.”

“In anticipation of this loss in revenue, on May 1, 2015, we will implement an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) that closes several of our parks and park operations across the state,” Lein wrote. “On June 1, 2015, we will implement a second EOP that will reduce the staffing and operational hours of several other parks.”

On April 16, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources spokesperson Kim Nix said Pelham’s Oak Mountain State Park is not among the parks in danger of closing.

“My understanding is that Oak Mountain is not one of the parks that will be affected by the closures,” Nix said.

Nix said Bladon Springs, Chickasaw, Buck’s Pocket and Paul Grist state parks are scheduled to close on May 1.

“Of course, all this is dependent on the legislature taking those funds away,” Nix said. “We have to plan for the future, and unfortunately that may involve closing some of the parks.”

During an early March public hearing at the Pelham Civic Complex, Lein said the majority of the State Park System’s revenue comes from user fees, and said OMSP draws the highest gate fee revenue of all Alabama state parks.

Lien said OMSP is one of the few state parks to generate more revenues than expenses.