Those summering at select Georgia State Parks may not immediately notice changes; but there are significant ones occurring.
As of July 1, a private company, Coral Hospitality of Florida, will have taken over operations of the lodges, cabins, restaurants and amenities at Unicoi and Amicalola parks in north Georgia, and Little Ocmulgee, George T. Bagby and Georgia Veterans Memorial in south Georgia. Coral Hospitality has already been operating the lodges and cabins at Unicoi and Amicalola since late last year. The controversial partnership was initiated by the Georgia Department of Natural Re-sources (DNR) as a cost-cutting measure.
As a result, 141 state employees at these parks will lose their jobs. And while the DNR is stressing that the affected workers are first in line to be rehired by Coral Hospitality, there is no guarantee that they will receive pay and benefits on par with what they previously earned.
By many accounts, the abruptness of the notice given to the affected employees about this transition has sparked outrage.
Even more controversial is a plan by the DNR to consolidate territories patrolled by park rangers, assigning rangers entire regions to oversee rather than specific parks. Local police de-partments fear that taking rangers out of the parks will shift enforcement and first-responder re-sponsibilities to their already over-burdened officers. And with millions of visitors flocking to state parks each year, that’s cause for concern.
Learn more at www.gastateparks.org.