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032 Park of Confusion 2009-01-14

REsort park in New Mexico

Have you ever been to a park that just didn’t seem to get it? They just didn’t seem to know what they were doing with the land. The managers and politicians, for example, attempting to make a natural area into a resort area - complete with fifty foot RVs, hotels, and golf courses. The plans look great, but just doesn’t seem to fit the area.

National Parks have finally outgrown the development boom era. In fact the NPS seems to be more on a cycle of destruction of facilities rather than building more. The land is being returned to wild-ness. For the facilities that have lasted most NPS campgrounds are spartan in design at best. They have a table, tent platform, fire ring, and cold water only in the restrooms. If the camper wants more, they go to town. The park keeps the rustic nature and the town gains from business opportunities of what the Park chose not to offer.

Wait just a minute the NPS also has inns, restaurants, stores, and other improvements. Yes, they do; but I am positive the park managers would love to see the concessions go extinct before the wolf does! Most concessions are in existence because of the legacy.

In state parks land are still in the over-development stage. The park managers and politicians not being able to learn from the NPS, only see improvement as building ultra-deluxe cabins, restaurants, etc.

So if I am against building money making facilities, what am I for and how am I going to pay for it?

It’s simple, I am for building, but building that enhances the resources. Improvements like bike paths and walking/hiking trails make the property a more valuable resource.

Bike Paths - short paths, long paths, steep paths, flat paths, paths that go somewhere, and paths that go nowhere. The paths must he signed, mapped, maintained, and made to look enticing. One park in the area built about five miles of bike paths twenty years ago. The paths have been a great success. Visitors come to the park to ride the paths. What an addition to the park! The problem is that was over twenty years ago and not a single foot of trail has been added (though about a quarter of a mile of bike lane was added to help in a congested area.)

Walking/hiking Trails - short trails, long trails, steep trails, flat trails, paved handicap trails, and rugged adventure trails. The trails must be signed and blazed, mapped, maintained, and made to look enticing. When the trails to an area look bad, only the hardiest or foolish hikers will walk them and then only once.

The better the network of paths and trails, the more visitors who will come to use them. A good example of a park with great hiking trails and minimal facilities is the Smokies. The Park is a huge financial resource for the neighboring towns, but the Park does not try to compete with them. You buy your taffy in Gatlinburg and you hike the trails in the Smokies. I don’t particularly like the rabid tourism but at least it is outside of the park.

Parks are a huge resource to the area. By promoting tourism and usage, visitors are spending money in the area. If the Park builds attractions (like a network of paths and trails) then visitors will flock to the Park and support the local commerce. The residents of the nearby towns might start businesses or obtain jobs to support the park and the state gains money by the revenues brought in by the businesses.

If instead the park tries to be the resort, the park unfairly competes against the local businesses and takes money from the locals. Jobs would still be available working in mostly entry level hospitality or maintenance positions, but businesses or growth outside of the parks would fail.

By enhancing the business opportunities in the area, the Parks can be one of the greatest natural and financial resources to the State and the people who live there.



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