The Illinois Department of Natural Resources narrowly missed its attempt in the spring to bolster funding for state parks. Now that legislators are back in Springfield, the agency is going to try again. Illinois is one of seven states that don't charge an entrance fee to state parks, a luxury the DNR says the state can no longer afford. Kind-of. It wants to charge Illinois drivers an extra two dollars for the annual license plate renewal sticker. The agency's Chris McCloud says DNR considers it a nominal fee:
"Two dollars a year for any park you want to go to for the entire year."
The legislation would also institute a fee to use state bike trails or beaches. Environmental and outdoors groups generally back the plan. After DNR took a 50 percent cut in state funding, groundskeeping has fallen off and maintenance projects are being left undone. Advocates for education and other needs are also clamoring for money, which caused the package to fall short in the Senate back in the spring. The measure would also charge visitors to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, which is now free, and out-of-state visitors to Illinois parks would have to pay admission.
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