More than 11% of U.S. households headed by 35-54-year-olds own an RV, exceeding the 9.3% ownership rates of those 55 and over. The 35-to-54 age group posted the largest gains in the 2011 Michigan survey. These outdoor enthusiasts love camping and spending time in parks — but that might be tough in Alabama.
Across Alabama, state parks employees and their supporters are rallying to keep the the state’s 48,000 acres of parks from closing. This year, the Alabama state parks are facing a budget crisis that would force many parks to shut down indefinitely.
As of May 14, the legislature was still planning to transfer more than $10 million from the Parks’ revenue sources to the state’s General Fund. On June 27, the Rally for Alabama State Parks will be held at Lakepoint Resort State Park, and will feature Alabama shrimp, barbecue, and live musical entertainment.
Tickets will cost supporters $20, and all proceeds will contribute to the State Park budget. NFL and Alabama football star Bob Baumhower will attend the fundraiser to bring some star power to the event.
“We are honored to partner with longtime supporter Bob Baumhower to highlight how the parks are actually funded,” said State Parks Director Greg Lein. “Events like this one help attract more visitors to the parks which, in turn, helps them to remain open. We encourage everyone to visit a state park and bring their friends.”
On average, 42.5 million Americans go camping every year, including millions of families. One quarter of camping participants are 17 or younger, and Alabama State Parks’ family campgrounds provide healthy outdoor activities for thousands of Alabama residents.
To help save the parks, Baumhower also serves on the board of the Alabama State Parks Partners coalition, a committee dedicated to keeping the parks open despite the imminent cuts. The coalition is made up of nonprofits, tourism trade groups, city governments, and members of the public.
In Rogersville, Mayor Richard Herston is encouraging people to visit nearby Joe Wheeler State Park, which was temporarily saved from a May 1st closure after a public outcry.
This week, Herston spoke out about the need to act quickly this summer.
“But the threat is there; apparently, the threat is real,” Herston said. “We just have to get people to come to the parks, use the parks. That will help save them.”