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Originally published Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM

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State parks are hurting in the Pacific Northwest

Americans love their parks, but don't want to pay for them. State park budgets have been slashed in Washington, Idaho and beyond.

McClatchy Newspapers

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If you are not happy with Parks not being properly funded, perhaps adressing the... MORE
"Americans love their parks, but don't want to pay for them." Nonsense... MORE
I will gladly pay for parks. The problem is, like every other branch of government... MORE

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When you walk into an outhouse at a picnic site or campground, one of the first things you notice is that the toilet paper is padlocked.

What kind of society puts a padlock on its toilet paper?

One on a tight budget, I guess. TP is a valuable commodity when you're in the boonies.

You get to wondering about things like that when you're sitting in an outhouse. You also might wonder about the large budget cuts that national parks, national forests and state parks are facing.

Americans are so lucky to have millions of acres of public lands and beautiful recreation sites.

Yet I've got a gut feeling that there is a growing attitude to not fund our natural resources and all the amenities that go with them for future generations — our kids and grandkids.

State parks are hurting in Washington, California and Idaho. "Save Our Parks" bumper stickers are popping up. These are special places, yet there isn't enough funding to maintain them.

On a recent trip across the Pacific Northwest to the coast, I saw that some state parks were closed. And in the ones that were open, the entrance booths were not staffed.

Most of the work was being done by volunteer hosts.

Past generations paid for the acquisition and upkeep of our natural wonders. Why don't some members of this generation want to contribute in the same way?

Visitors to this country are amazed by our natural resources. Yet in the previous two budget cycles, Idaho state parks lost 80 percent of general funds, or taxpayer support. The operating budget of Washington state parks was cut by more than 70 percent. I'm a taxpayer and I want my taxes going to state parks.

State parks are an investment in the state's economy. I'm one outdoors person and taxpayer who doesn't like it. It's a sad commentary on the American people that they don't want to take care of their natural areas. It goes deeper than a padlock on the toilet paper.

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