Washington state parks on the chopping block

Washington state parks on the chopping block
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- Washington residents are amidst a countdown to shut down. If our state lawmakers don't reach a budget deal by Sunday, state parks along with 34 other agencies will be on the chopping block.

“We should have a deal by this weekend,” said the reporter on Friday. “I think there's hope in the next few hours," said the Governor on Monday. The fire underneath lawmakers is building, as time ticks on.

“A shut down will not happen," said Senator Rodney Tom. That statement many believed last week, but with just days left to make a deal, some locals are getting restless.

“A normal household can’t live without a budget,” said Troy Woolever, a camper at Charbonneau Park.

“If our normal households can’t live without a budget why does the government think they can," he asked. The fact remains the government can't function without a budget.

Thirty-four agencies will be shut down on Monday; including one many plan to flock to next weekend – state parks. “We have 400 permanent employees and 400 seasonal that will all be on layoff status,” said Virginia Painter, with Washington State Parks and Recreation, if a deal is not reached.

All 117 state parks will be boarded up, and reservations cancelled. “The economy is so bad and fuel is expensive, people need their local parks to enjoy with their families,” said Terrie Yonts, a camper. “It's a crime, there's nothing left for the people.”

“Fourth of July weekend is the highest weekend for camping there is,” said Woolever. “If they want to make money, they can’t shut it down.” But, that’s the same thing many Minnesotans thought two years ago. Minnesota’s legislature couldn’t come to an agreement their budget in 2011. The state shut down for 20 days and state parks alone lost a million dollars a week. Hundreds of weddings, family reunions and Fourth of July weekend plans were left stranded.

“It seems like they're trying to make a statement, closing the one place all the young people can go and families can go and that's not a statement to make," said Yonts.

There's a bottom line at Charbonneau Park, “Get busy. Get things done. Get a budget” and do it before Sunday.

Only national forests and Army Corps of Engineer parks like Charbonneau would remain open if lawmakers can’t reach a deal. Unfortunately, if that does happen, Charbonneau is already booked through July.