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State parks requests $9M budget increase for more staff, maintenance

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The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks is asking for a budget increase.

During the current fiscal year, the State Parks division received about $3 million through special funds. They are requesting $12 million for fiscal year 2023.

The Division of State Parks hopes to increase the budget for maintenance and repair – and to increase staffing. There are a little over 100 employees to manage 52 state parks across five islands.

Alan Carpenter, the assistant administrator for the Division of State Parks, said, "We can’t compare ourselves to the Californias and New Yorks, which are essentially small nations. But if you look at our visitor numbers — pre-(COVID-19) 11.3 million. And then you take the next 10 states below us from Nebraska who hosted 10.9 million, to South Carolina who hosted 8.7 million visitors."

"Again, we are rolling with 111 positions. Those next 10 states below us average 900 positions per system," says Carpenter.

In 2020, State Parks increased user fees for all nine parks that charge for entrance and parking – such as Diamond Head. They hope to reduce foot traffic at parks without reducing their budget.

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