State Parks hike up prices to combat funding cuts

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) There are 47 state parks in South Carolina, and they generate about $20 million a year. Some of the busiest parks are the ones right along the coast, like the Myrtle Beach State Park.

But even though the parks are bringing in millions, they're also losing millions. State parks used to rely on your tax dollars to keep their gates open, but that support is dwindling. State funding cuts over the years have left them looking for other options to stay afloat.

So you will notice some changes, like higher prices, now that the parks are all trying to become self-sufficient. State parks now have to be able to run on their own within the next two years.

"Basically what that boils down to is we just need to continue to be a very efficient run state park system," said Jerry Ives, Myrtle Beach State Park Manager. "And having that being 100 percent self sufficient it will cover all of our operating expenses."

"It's the economy and everything raises," said Lori Dayton, who visits state parks a couple times a week. "And prices. It's the way of life. Everybody's gotta survive."

The deadline for the changes is by the end of 2013. One of the main options managers are using is hiking up their prices. The prices have gone up on a variety of passes you can buy for state parks in South Carolina. People working with the parks service are pushing those prices on those who use them the most, the state park passport holders.

Some of the plans to keep people visiting despite the higher prices, are to improve and build more amenities at the parks. That way the parks will have more to offer, so more people will come.

"Our hope is that everybody will realize what a value it is and come visit our state park," said Ives.

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