Emery County residents were surprised to learn that Millsite was included on the closure list for cutbacks in state parks.
"There is a story behind the whole deal," indicated Scofield, Huntington and Millsite State Park manager Ron Taylor. "Since the beginning of the last fiscal year in July 2001, early predictions were that the financial status of the state would be bad. At the request of the agency several budget reductions were taking place ongoing throughout the year."
"The state parks met multiple times to meet the governor's budget requirements," continued Taylor. "We were asked statewide to come up with $400,000 in reductions. We were hit with another $1 million which was internally adjusted. These reductions had been requested and met before the legislature came into session. We had gone along with the need to tighten our belts and had done those things."
"We consolidated Scofield with Huntington and Millsite State Park," pointed out Taylor. "When the boating ranger at Scofield retired he was not replaced. This was a savings of $40,000 per year. Other parks such as Flaming Gorge did the same thing; employees were not replaced to meet the governor's request."
"The Legislature said that state parks will reduce their ongoing budget by $500,000 by closing parks. This didn't give state parks an option. So they are following that mandate by closing parks. I don't know what the legislature was thinking. It's a hard thing to close parks. The region managers and the state park board all got together to decide which parks to close to save $500,000," explained the manager.
"Two years ago, state parks asked the governor and the Legislature for $10 million to bring parks up to code. We were given half of that $5 million to do that. And now they want us to close parks. After much discussion, they chose six parks to be eliminated. Otter Creek-Piute, Minersville, Fort Bueneventura in Ogden, Pineview-elimination of the boating ranger, Millsite and Jordan River are on the hit list," revealed Taylor.
"It took $30,000 to run Millsite in the year 2001. Revenues from park camping fees raised $13,000 in funding. This means a saving to the state parks of between $17,000 to $20,000 per year if Millsite is closed," said Taylor.
Millsite has operated with a manager who visited the park on a daily basis. The park has one seasonal employee, a green thumb volunteer who is paid by the federal government and two to four camp hosts each season.
The only savings to the state parks will be in the elimination of the seasonal worker position, pointed out Emery County and park officials. The other positions at Millsite were manned by volunteers.
The park manager will remain, with his duties including Huntington and Scofield.
The city would not be able to operate Millsite as cheaply as the state parks has done. If the city cannot take over the park, it will revert back to United States Bureau of Land Management because it is located on the federal agency's land, according to officials.
Millsite will need the support of the people in the area to be saved. Creative financing will need to be addressed to show the state parks that Millsite can be operated with minimal expense from the agency, added Emery officials. It's not worth closing for a savings of $20,000 per year.
Emery County officials encourage local residents to support keeping Millsite open. New developments should be planned and closing the park should not be an option.
A public hearing in connection with Millsite's proposed closure tis slated April 3 at 7 p.m. at the Ferron City Hall.
State park board members and other decision makers will be in attendance at the public hearing.