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House passes admission fees for Illinois state parks

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 10:58 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 10:32 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Visitors to Illinois state parks would face admission fees for the first time under legislation the Illinois House passed Monday.

The bill would allow the state to charge annual fees for vehicle stickers for park entry, as well as daily admission fees for pedestrians or drivers without annual passes.

Proponents of the measure, sponsored by Rep. JoAnn Osmond, R-Antioch, said the money is needed for upkeep at parks, where funds, personnel and care have been cut back heavily in recent years.

"I know it's very difficult for the members of this assembly to vote for a fee, but please keep in mind that this is a user fee, and the people that pay this fee will be the people that love nature, love to go to the parks," Osmond said.

The revenue would be dedicated to the state parks fund or the fish and wildlife fund, according to the legislation.

The state Department of Natural Resources currently does not charge an entry fee to state-owned or -operated land except for Wildlife Prairie State Park near Peoria and sites with beaches, where the charge is $1 a day per person for beach use, according to the agency website.

The House sent the bill to the Senate on an 81-29 vote.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn said the governor backs the proposal.

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