GREAT FALLS – Last December, the Parks and Focus Commission was commissioned by the governor of Montana to bring 12 citizens together to address critical needs for state parks.
Today, after 4 meetings this year across the state, final recommendations for the future of Montana state parks were presented at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park.
The Parks and Focus Commission concluded that there is a pattern that has been repeated for decades.
The 55 state parks in Montana are underfunded and due to that are unable to provide great experiences for the customers.
The Parks and Focus Commission Chairman Stace Lindsay said, “I think the state parks have something to offer for everybody.”
The Parks and Focus Commission has tried to develop a system where the parks and the local communities can make the case for the parks being a great economic investment as well as a great investment in the health and well-being of the citizens.
Lindsay added, “It really feels like, as one of our commissioners said today, the ships turning. That we’ve got the leadership in place, we have a vision that’s outlined. The legislatures meeting, I mean it’s really clear, we’ve received over 150 public comments on our work. Funding of state parks and access to trails for the outdoors is top on all of their minds.”
He said the research that the commission has done shows that whether you’re visiting from out of state or in state, the access to the trails and the outdoors to the state parks system is a huge benefit, “For the out of state visitors, they often will come to see the national parks but will be pleasantly surprised along the way that we have all of these other amazing resources to enjoy.”
Lindsay also added that almost every community is within access to our state parks, “They have great educational facilities and resources available. I think you will re-discover parts of Montana that you never knew existed.”
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News