State to privatize its lodge parks by July 1

Source: Jeff Gill and Michele Hester, Gainesville Times, May 9, 2013

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is moving to privatize lodge parks in the state, as part of fulfilling a state mandate to become, among other things, more self-sufficient. …. But recent moves and ones taking place late last year have prompted outrage and concerns, particularly over how law enforcement will be handled…

…A private company, Florida-based Coral Hospitality, contracted by the North Georgia Mountains Authority, has managed the lodge and cabins at Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawson County since Dec. 1, and the lodge and cabins at Unicoi State Park near Helen in White County since Nov. 1, said Bill Donohue, the authority’s executive director. By July 1, all the amenities at Georgia’s lodge parks — Unicoi and Amicalola in North Georgia and Little Ocmulgee, Georgia Veterans Memorial and George T. Bagby state parks in South Georgia — will be managed by the authority…

…A move to take certified rangers out of state parks has drawn worries from area officials…. Carlisle said shifting the burden to counties to save money at the state level is troublesome…. Under the new structure, Bryson said DNR law enforcement officers would be available to respond to calls at the state parks and management areas in their region, which consists of a five-county zone….