Montana deserves more from ITS
parks and recreation system
Study after study shows that one of the primary reasons people choose to live in Montana is our unique quality of life. And study after study shows that one of the most important elements to our quality of life is outdoor recreation.
One would think that our demands for outdoor recreation coupled with the numerous spectacular natural assets and historical sites that fall within the Big Sky state would result in one of the finest state parks systems in the country.
But this is far from the truth.
PARKS' STAFFING IS AT 68% OF PEER STATES.
According to the 2015 Park Division study, our State Park system is a 68% compared to peer states.
VISITATION KEEPS INCREASING, BUT BUDGETS ARE FLAT
In fact since 2000, visitation has doubled and is expected to exceed 2.5 million in FY15.
Visitation was expected to surpass 3 million by 2021. We surpassed that amount in 2020 alone.
MONTANA HAS THE MOST STATE PARKS AND THE SMALLEST BUDGET
When compared to its peer states in the Northern Rocky Mountains region, Montana has the most state parks, yet the smallest budget to support them.
PARKS COULDN'T BE MORE UNDERFUNDED
As crazy is this may sound, Montana state parks receive no money from the General Fund or Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
In actuality, despite the herculean efforts of state parks staff, Montana's state parks and recreation system is one of the most underfunded, endangered and antiquated systems in the West.
This must change.
Montana State Parks — which is also the primary non-consumptive recreation provider in Montana -- need more support and more funding not only to meet national standards but so that we can meet an increasing demand for parks and recreation sites as our population grows and demands on existing sites increase.