State audit reveals worker shortage impacts state parks

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The Louisiana Legislative Auditor releases a new report that finds low staffing levels present challenges for administering state parks. Director of State Parks Brandon Burris says recruiting new employees has been difficult…

“It’s difficult for us to find individuals who just want to come to work for our state park system. Finding those people who does manual labor jobs out in the heat during the summer in Louisiana during this economy has made it difficult for us.”

OSP revenue increased by nearly fifty percent from 2016 through 2022 due to short-term revenue including the COVID-19 relief fund. OSP also generates visitation revenues through sources like cabins, campsites, and day-use admissions and non-visitation revues revenues. Burris says despite the audit’s findings, visitation numbers are high.

“We do a good job with partnering with our sister agency Office of Tourism to make sure they promote our state parks. Our attendance is still way up. The use of the parks are still growing every year. So we feel comfortable where we are.”

According to OSP, $42 million is needed for improvements to keep parks and historic sites operating at expected service levels. Burris says fee and price increases are on the table but they are considering all options before a final decision is made.

“We want to make sure that any fee increase that we do is justifiable and reasonable. Something that we’re always considering and something that we take a very careful approach to. Cause we want to make sure that Louisiana state parks are still accessible by everyone that comes through.” 

While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in visitation, recent hurricanes have damaged or forced some parks to close.

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