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Amendment 1 on May 24 ballot to benefit Alabama State Parks

From Monte Sano to the gulf, Alabama’s state park system is considered “a jewel.”

And, according to its co-sponsor, if Amendment 1 on the May 24 ballot is passed, the jewel could shine brighter.

When voters head to the polls May 24, they will find a single amendment, Amendment 1. With a “yes” vote, the state would be able to borrow $85 million to repair and expand infrastructure and amenities at Alabama’s 21 state parks and historical sites.

House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), co-sponsor of the proposal, said it’s important for the state to revitalize its parks.

“Our state is blessed, the parks are a jewel in Alabama and this will revitalize these places and help bring more tourism in,” he said. “By doing this, we will expand our revenue.”

According to a PARCA analysis, a yes vote would allow the state to issue bonds to pay for the initiative. The Legislative Services Agency’s Fiscal Division estimated the repayment of the bonds will cost $6 million a year over 20 years. The repayment will be made through taxes earmarked for the State Parks System bond repayment. Of the total, $80 million would go to state parks and $5 million would go to sites under the supervision of the Alabama Historical Commission.

Ledbetter said Amendment 1 would save money and generate revenue.

“Because of the bond issue that had recently been paid out, it gives us the opportunity to go back and because of the bond rating we were able to do it at a lower premium,” he said. “It allows us to save a little bit of money on what we were paying and expand the number of state dollars we are able to put into our state parks.”

Alabama’s 21 state parks attracted 5.4 million guests in 2021 and generated approximately $50 million in revenue. The revenue pays to run the parks.

Ledbetter said approving Amendment 1 was an opportunity to bring in more tourism and more tourism dollars.

“When you bring tourism dollars in, that’s money you don’t have to pull from other things,” he said. “It’s money you’re actually generating.”

Planned improvements include new cabins and campgrounds, modernizing playgrounds throughout the state park system, and expanding wifi, electrical, and sewer hookups at campgrounds.

“All our state parks will benefit,” said Ledbetter. “I’m excited what it will bring to our state parks.”

Voters who want to vote on Amendment 1 but not the state’s primary races may request an amendment-only ballot at their polling place.

Alabama’s 21 state parks encompass approximately 48,000 acres of land and water in the state. According to a PARCA analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2019, Alabama spent less per capita on parks and recreation than any other state and has among the lowest rates of state-level subsidy for parks and recreation in the United States.

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