Washington Post: "A Pivotal Period: Century-Old State Park Systems Face Modern Issues"

Senior Fellow Margaret Walls is quoted five times in a story about the challenges facing state parks.

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April 7, 2022

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The Washington Post

“Instead of flying to Arizona to visit the Grand Canyon, I can go somewhere nearby,” said Margaret Walls, an economist and senior fellow at Resources for the Future, a Washington-based independent nonprofit research organization focused on environmental and natural resource issues. “And that option is so important for us all to have.”...

Just as each state park system varies, so do their funding sources. But research by Walls has shown that, since the 1990s, general fund revenue for state parks has declined overall. Today, funding comes mostly from user fees and dedicated state sources such as lottery revenue and taxes...

“Overall, state parks are under-resourced compared to their operating costs,” Walls said. Decades of funding shortages have caused ballooning repair needs and have further complicated challenges such as increased visitation, climate change and an overdue reckoning with access and equity...

“Visitation reflects value,” Walls said. “And it’s a sign that we need to put more money into the systems, which don’t have enough money to manage parks as they are, much less build adaptation plans for the future.”...

“Especially in coastal areas, parks provide ecosystem services well beyond their recreational services,” Walls said. They increase water quality, buffer flooding and protect against sea level surge. “They’re also impacted by damage, so they need to be managed so they can provide resilience.”

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