Proposed Entry Fee Unpopular at Illinois State Parks

Inside the Johnson Sauk Trail State Rec Area sits a brand new business. The Red Earth Cafe opened its doors less than a week ago, just in time for the park’s busy season.

“When you’re out here on any given day there are people coming through here even in the bad weather days,” says Julie Clark, co-owner of the Red Earth CafĂ©.

Clark says her business model is based off campers and people coming to the park to spend a day at the lake.

“That was a big part of the proposal we watched traffic we got an understanding from the community how much they used the park,” adds Clark.

But the proposal to impart a so-called admission fee at Illinois State Parks has Clark worried. Her fear is customers won’t want to pay an admission fee just to get into the park where her cafe is located.

“As new business owners we want people to come in here and we don’t want them to hesitate because there’s an additional fee,” says Clark.

The proposed fee would have state parks around Illinois create a user or admission fee with each individual park setting its own rates. The money would be used help maintain state parks that are falling behind on maintenance. Clark says there’s already several fees in place here at Johnson Sauk Trail State Park that an additional fee would probably take a slice out of her new business.

“The fees that are generated through the hunters through the camping fees I think this park if the money were to stay here could possibly sustain itself,” says Clark.

The Illinois Senate has until May 31st to vote on the proposed entry fees.

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