Here is the text of an email I just sent off to my own Nebraska Senator, Tom Hansen:
Dear Senator Hansen;I know that not everyone agrees with me, but I hope that my Nebraska readers will support LB362 and contact your Senators TODAY to voice that support! If you want to send a message of support, you can find your Senator's email here: http://nebraskalegislature.gov/senators/senator_list.php.
I am strongly in favor of LB362 which replaces the $25 annual park permit with a $7 fee on vehicle registration. I believe that not only will this change result in a vitally needed increase in funding for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, but will also result in more families being able to access the very affordable recreational opportunities provided by our Nebraska State Park system.
As a member of a blue-collar working family in western Nebraska, I am aware of many, many families in our own home town of Sutherland who don’t even go out to the Sutherland Reservoir because they can’t afford the $25 annual park permit. A small $7 fee when they register their vehicles would eliminate this roadblock and strengthen families as they are able to share this great recreation area together and provide much needed affordable entertainment.
As you know, only 3% of Nebraska lands are publicly owned, most managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. This extremely small number of acres makes it even more vital that the NGPC receive as much funding as possible to ensure that these public lands are the best they can be for Nebraska residents and to attract out of town visitors. Currently, much of the budget and staffing of the NGPC is tied up in selling and enforcing the park permit system. Not only would this new system eliminate those resource drains, but would double the current budget. Many of our public properties managed by NGPC, including North Platte’s own Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park are in dire need of repair and maintenance that has long been deferred due to a shortage of funds.
It would also change the climate at our state parks from one of chasing down park permit offenders to one of welcoming visitors.
I urge you to vote in favor of LB362 and work to ensure its passage.
Sincerely, Muriel Clark