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Monday, February 15, 2010 - 3:32pm

State Parks Hope To Get Bond Sale Boost

A new $5 million bond proposal would pay for improvements at some of Georgia's most state popular parks and historic sites.

The plan from the Department of Natural Resources is part of Governor Sonny Perdue’s budget being considered by lawmakers. Perdue wants to raise the money from issuing long-term bonds in the next fiscal year.

Last year, amid budget cuts, legislators told the DNR to come up with a way to make some of its amenities more financially "self-sustaining" and attractive to tourists. 

Becky Kelley with the DNR’s Parks division says this plan is aimed at overnight visitors to Georgia’s parks and historic sites. 

"We see the primary investment being toward campsites -- ever popular with the economy the way it is -- (and) our cottages. These types of things get people back to nature, back in our parks, and at the same time, support the parks system by making them more sustainable."

Andy Fleming with the non-profit group Friends of Georgia State Parks says focusing on these amenities is the best way parks can attract more guests.

"Campsites...cabins...upgrading existing facilities so that the lodges as well as the cottages can compete with the private marketplace. They need to be refurbished every few years just as any other hospitality environment needs to be."
The five parks in this plan include Cloudland Canyon in northwest Georgia, and the Fort McAllister Park near Savannah.