CHARLESTON, W.Va. –– A bill passed last week by state lawmakers could possibly funnel more state advertising dollars toward state parks and state forests.
The main focus of the measure caps funding for the Courtesy Patrol system at $4.7 million but the bill also spells out if there’s any money left a percentage would go to direct advertising for parks and forests. The bill gives the authority for the spending to state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette.
“The legislature recognizes we can do more and that there’s more opportunity there,” Burdette said.
Only a handful of state parks turn a profit each year and lawmakers approved what equaled to emergency funding earlier this year to allow parks to meet payroll. Burdette believes targeted advertising will get more people to the parks, especially those with sleeping accommodations.
“We’ve got tremendous assets in our state parks. The legislature, especially during this past legislature session, understood the financial challenges associated with them and the needs and in a very modest fashion they took some steps to put some money back in the parks,” Burdette said.
The bill, awaiting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s signature, requires the Courtesy Patrol to return the money it doesn’t spend. Burdette said efficient operation of the Courtesy Patrol will help the parks and others.
“Which puts some pressure on us to make sure that we are prudent in the way we operate the Courtesy Patrol. We think that’s a very valuable service in this state but we are always looking at ways to do that more effectively and efficiently,” Burdette said.