The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 30, 2009

State's budget idea baffles Valley anglers, campers

MIFFLINBURG -- The possibility that a popular state park in western Union County could close as Pennsylvania wrestles with a projected $3 billion budget deficit put a damper Friday on some Valley residents' outings.

R.B. Winter State Park, which drew 140,000 visitors in 2008, is one of 48 park and picnic areas identified for possible closure by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which faces a budget cut in the 2009-2010 spending plan.

DCNR developed the list after state Senate Republicans said they wanted to trim $26 million from DCNR's $120 million budget as part of their $27.3 billion budget proposal.

Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell in February offered a $29 billion spending plan that mixed program cuts with new or increased taxes.

"I'm not sure I can tell them how to balance the state budget, but there must be some other things they can do," Carolyn Marks, of Northumberland, said Friday as she sat with her husband, Roger, cooking hotdogs over a campfire at R.B. Winter. "Closing this park will affect the whole region."

The Markses are volunteer hosts at the park's campground, welcoming guests, helping them find campsites, directing them to area stores for supplies and suggesting area restaurants.

"Closing this park is not a solution," Carolyn Marks said. "That would have a ripple effect on the economy all around this area."

Campground always busy

Jim Dreese, of Selinsgrove, was fishing Friday in the 695-acre park's Halfway Lake, which is fed by mountain springs, not far from a native sandstone dam.

The lake's mirror-like surface was barely disturbed by his line.

"I come here about every day," Dreese said of the park, which lies in a shallow basin surrounded by rocky ridges and an oak and pine forest. "It's one of the nicest places around, and it's safe and quiet."

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