The Department of Natural Resources is looking for corporate sponsors to keep Georgia's state parks and historic sites open. The move comes as the department is getting huge budget cuts.
DNR is hiring a marketing company to find sponsors for events and infrastructure in the state owned parks. Officials say the names of parks at not up for grabs. Commissioner Chris Clark says it’s a creative move to fill a budget gap.
"We know who our customers are. We know that they're not coming to our parks to be bombarded with ads," he says. "Instead of charging them 15 dollars to park their car there every time they visit, they're probably o.k. with a small sign saying this trail brought to you by REI.”
Currently, Georgia's state parks remain open though many have adjusted hours and have let staff go.
Environmental groups worry that the state parks could be used by companies that pollute to buy environmental good will with the public.
Clark says he is aware of their concern.
"It's incumbent upon us, in order to maintain the public trust to make sure we're not in a court case with someone we regulate and at the same time accept money from them into the system," he says.
The commissioner would have the final word on who would be allowed to place an ad in a state park. He hopes to have a marketing company hired within a month with sponsorships beginning in July.