Why do taxpayers fund a zoo? The private sector is always able to innovate better than the public sector. It can work:
Wildlife Prairie State Park stays open through private nonprofit ownership
by Brian Costin
15 May 2013 | Illinois Policy Institute
Every once in a while, government in Illinois actually gets smaller.
One recent example revolves around the Wildlife Prairie State Park, which will drop “State” from its name and will be run by the Forest Park Foundation of Peoria, a private, nonprofit group, effective immediately.
Wildlife Prairie Park, located 10 miles west of downtown Peoria, is known for its roaming bison and elk herds.
The park was opened in 1978 and run privately until 2000, when it was turned over to the state of Illinois and run by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Illinois’ budget woes threatened to shut down the park – the park had been cut off from state spending since 2009. But because of recent state legislation, the park will be transferred back over to private ownership, ensuring the park will remain open.
This is a win for taxpayers and a win for citizens who want to enjoy the natural beauty of the state.
From the Galesburg Register Mail:
That ends the decade plus that the 2,000-acre park has spent operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which has struggled to provide funds for the maintenance and upkeep on the property because of ongoing budget cuts. The legislation transfers ownership of the park from the state to the Forest Park Foundation of Peoria, which had already been managing the park along with the Friends of Wildlife Prairie Park.
The legislation, House Bill 1292, passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn.
With the ownership change, the Forest Park Foundation of Peoria will have flexibility to generate additional revenue streams to keep the park open to the public, including admissions, memberships and donations.
If successful, this project could serve as a template for other nonprofit foundations to take responsibility for Illinois’ ailing state park system and save additional taxpayer money.