Dear editor:

Georgia's state parks and historic sites are in very serious trouble. Due to declining state revenues and budget cuts, the Department of Natural Resources announced significant operational changes last week which included reducing services, cutting days of operations, layoffs, furloughs and even the closure of some sites.

One of the most noticeable changes was the recent increase in the daily park pass fee, which increased from $3 to $5 per vehicle. While the increase was regrettable, it was a necessary step to ensure that parks continue to provide the services that we expect. These funds are a major source of revenue and will directly benefit Reed Bingham State Park.

What can you do? The community is already responding. Monetary and in-kind contributions show that the local communities support the park. It also shows decision makers at the state level that Reed Bingham State Park is an important asset for South Georgia. For those who have already contributed, Thank you!

There has never been a time when your support of our state parks and historic sites was needed more than now. The best way to do this is by getting involved. I love the outdoors. I participate in bike marathons and kayaking trips. I volunteer at Reed Bingham almost every weekend and see dozens of families from Colquitt County also enjoying the park. I'm sure that there are even more of you that have fond memories of past visits to the park and many of you were actually involved in the creation of the park during its' early years. There are many things that you can do to support Reed Bingham State Park even more.

Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB) was the very first park in the state to charter under the statewide organization, Friends of Georgia State Parks. That also makes us a 501(c) 3 organization, so your membership and contributions are tax deductible. While we support all of Georgia's state parks and historic sites, our efforts are focused more on helping Reed Bingham. We vote and decide at monthly meetings on how to best use our funds to support the park.

FORB provides funds for the park's research work that helps to save threatened gopher tortoises, year-round educational programs for children and families, rescued wildlife from throughout South Georgia that needs rehabilitation, and park maintenance and improvement projects. We sponsor several family-oriented events each year that bring thousands of families to the park including Buzzard Day, a sunrise service and Children's Egg Hunt on Easter, kid's fishing rodeos, the Fall Festival in October and A Christmas with Friends featuring the parade of lighted boats on the lake.

One of our most popular events will take place in a few weeks. Celebrate America will occur on Saturday, July 4th. The entire day will be packed with activities and will end with the most spectacular fireworks presentation that we've ever had. FORB is known for our innovative approach and creative solutions to the challenges that the park faces, but we also have a sentimental side. Fireworks on Independence Day are a tradition that almost every family has shared since the birth of this nation.

Americans have always courageously met the challenges to the unique freedom that we enjoy. Whether an attack on our country by a dictatorship or a terrorist group or facing the tough years of The Great Depression, we emerged as a more united stronger people. The USA will also emerge from this current crisis. Friends of Reed Bingham's celebration this year will reflect that American spirit and will feature a finale over the lake that you just have to see up close. The show is paid for by private and corporate contributions. No state funds are used. I invite and encourage you to consider helping in any way that you can through a donation, in-kind contribution or by actively participating in park activities as a volunteer. Thank you.



Dwight Griner,

president,

Friends of Reed Bingham State Park

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