Entrance Fee in the Works for Illinois' State Parks

LOVES PARK (WIFR) -- Brenda Adami and her family visit Rock Cut State Park every year enjoying the 40 miles of trails and warm weather. Their activities may soon come at a cost however. Something Adami thinks would do more harm than good.

"This is free. It always has been free and it shouldn't be something that people can't do. They shouldn't be told they can't come into the park because they can't pay”, says Adami.

Representative JoAnn Osmond of Antioch is sponsoring a bill that would charge an entrance fee at state parks including Rock Cut. The money would be used to help maintain and repair the parks, a plan that some representatives agree with despite the opposition it's attracting.

"State parks are extremely important. People want to go, they want to visit the beauty of our parks. Certainly no one wants to pay a fee to access them. I don't disagree with that. Give us a viable alternative but there just doesn't seem to be one."

Rock Cut brings in more than a million people annually to enjoy the 3,000-plus acres the park offers. Visitors who have been coming to the park for years say many of the roads need repair. While a daily fee seems costly, some wouldn't mind an alternative way to pay.

"There's a lot of maintenance that's required in the parks and the budgets are low, the state doesn't pay a lot of money on time. I'd be in favor of a yearly pass, a sticker you could put on your windshield. I would think 25 dollars for a yearly pass would certainly be reasonable”, says Rockford resident Kathy Hoel.

The house could vote on the bill as early as March 22. No prices for the fees have been discussed either. Approximately $750 million is needed annually to conduct repairs and maintenance to all of the state parks.

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