Monday, May 26, 2003

Volunteers make up cutbacks at parks

The Associated Press

A year after absorbing $8 million in state budget cuts, Indiana's park system is largely back to normal thanks to volunteers who stepped up to offer their time and labor.

The volunteers are planting flowers, teaching classes and maintaining hiking trails. Others have joined "friends" groups that support state parks.

"These are folks who are extremely important, and people we are going to be going to even more for the support of the facilities," Stephen Sellers, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, told the Herald-Times of Bloomington for a story Sunday.

"We can't go it alone."

After last year's budget cutbacks, property managers eliminated programs, reduced payrolls and closed some facilities.

Since then, volunteers have rolled up their sleeves.

At Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell, master gardener students stepped in when the park cut back on planting flowers this spring.

The gardeners are taking the class through the Purdue Extension Service.

Outside Nashville at Brown County State Park - the state's largest and most-visited - hikers and horsemen maintain certain trails so park employees can use their work hours elsewhere.

And the Friends of the Brown County State Park are developing a special trail for people with disabilities.

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