Impact Nevada: Nevadans Like Their State Parks - 8 News NOW

Impact Nevada: Nevadans Like Their State Parks

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LAS VEGAS -- How much more are Nevadans willing to pay to keep state parks open? That's one of many questions that was asked in the latest Impact Nevada poll.

The simple answer is yes. Nevadans say they are willing to fork out more money to keep state parks from closing. In fact, 80 percent said they would pay extra. However, how it is paid for is where the debate arises.  Should come from across the board tax increases or fee hikes?

The Valley of Fire is one of Nevada's most well known and visited state parks. It's also one of the most troubled. "Over the last three years, we've already cut our budget about 46 percent," said Jim Hammonds, park supervisor.

That cut resulted in slight increases in park entry fees but visitors have mostly been shielded from the affects of budget cuts. When the state legislature meets in February, state parks may be targeted for even deeper cuts.

A new Impact Nevada poll shows voters are willing to pay more to keep services the same. But the poll shows people aren't wanting to pay higher taxes.

See all the poll results

"Higher fees, I don't want higher taxes for anything. I'd be willing to pay higher fees so that those who are benefiting from using the park pay a little more," said Russ Reston, Nevada resident.

Park visitor Brandon James said he wouldn't mind paying a little more in fees if it meant keeping more people employed.

It's unknown at this time how much fees could be hiked at Valley of Fire and other state parks including the Old Mormon Fort in Las Vegas.

"For that little budget that we did have, about $6 million, we were bringing in about $62 million  into the communities and the local economy," said Hammonds.

Park employees and visitors know the future of state parks in the middle of a budget crisis is uncertain. But they feel some consolation the polls show Nevadans aren't willing to give up on them.

"Essentially, you have 80 percent of the public that are for parks. Either they will raise taxes or user fees, but they still want to keep parks around," Hammonds said.

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