West Virginia state parks are havens of recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation for many West Virginia residents. They also are one of the larger pillars of the state's tourism industries in some regions.
West Virginia's state parks have long been recognized for their stunning beauty. They are magnificent natural gems, attracting almost as many visitors from out of state as they do West Virginians.
But because of a lack of funding during the past several years, routine maintenance has been lacking at many of the parks. Their facilities - lodges, gift shops and cabins - have deteriorated, becoming less attractive and in some cases unusable.
The last thing needed is for a maintenance issue to cause visitors to have a bad experience during a park stay. This is especially true for out-of-staters making their first, and possibly last, visit. A bad experience will likely be a determining factor for these people in deciding where they will spend their vacations - and their money - in coming years.
Legislators were told recently by parks head Ken Caplinger that the system needs about $3 million a year in additional funding for maintenance work. Otherwise, the park system is "going to fall down around us," Caplinger cautioned.
Lawmakers should heed his warning. In preparing the state budget for next year, the additional $3 million should be included.
Well-maintained parks are vital for West Virginia's economy.