Audit Division
Audit Summary

Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources
Division of State Parks
Report LA96-11

Results in Brief

Difficult choices need to be made to address the deteriorating condition of Nevada's State Park System. With the recent addition of more parks and facilities, already stretched operating budgets have not kept pace with the increasing number of park visitors. Although complete data is lacking, Parks officials estimate the backlog of needed repairs and maintenance has reached $40 million. While public satisfaction has been rated high in the past, visitor services have been declining, including reduced park hours, closure of some facilities, and elimination of many interpretive programs. Furthermore, numerous violations of State Health Code and environmental regulations may force additional closure of facilities.

Revenues generated from park users continue to lag behind those of other western states because many visitors do not pay required fees. Visitor noncompliance with Parks' fee schedule is at significant levels, at a time when revenues are desperately needed. With little chance of major increases in state funding due to competing priorities, Parks officials must seek ways to expand other funding sources, such as improved enforcement procedures, revised fee schedules, and better management of concession contracts.

1. The frequency and quality of visitor services has been declining throughout the Park System. The Division has provided fewer interpretive programs, reduced law enforcement patrols, reduced park hours, and less frequent custodial services. (page 8)

2. Nevada's Park System has a large backlog of needed repairs and maintenance. Projects have been delayed for years and many facilities are in need of major work. Division estimates place the backlog at as much as $40 million in 1995. (page 9)

3. Despite critical backlogs in deferred maintenance, new park facilities are being added. This will place an increased demand on the Park System's already limited maintenance resources. (page 9)

4. The Park System relies primarily on the honor system for fee collection and does not adequately enforce the collection of user fees in the parks. The Division only collected about 62% of the user fees which should have been generated by the 2.88 million visitors to the parks in fiscal year 1994. We estimate the Division fails to collect up to $500,000 in revenue annually from noncompliance with the fee schedule. (page 10)

5. When compared with other western states, the amount of revenue generated by user fees in Nevada appears low. The average percentage of operating expenditures funded by user fees in 12 other western states during fiscal year 1993 was 34%. Nevada's user fees funded 17% of operating expenditures during the same period. (page 11)

6. The Division has not ensured that all concession contracts are adequately managed. The contracts are not always properly monitored to ensure vendor compliance with the terms of the contract. (page 13)