Amid potential state park closures, park leaders say visitors play a key role

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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Fifteen state parks across Alabama could soon close if lawmakers can't find other ways to balance the state's budget, but in the meantime, park leaders want visitors to know the focus within the parks hasn't changed.

Every year, students from across Marshall County visit Lake Guntersville State Park for a county-wide golf tournament.

"This is very local for us, for all of us kids out here," Douglas High School Sophomore Anthony Lumpkin says.

Last year Lumpkin was the tournament's winner. He says he visits the park's course often. "It's where I come to practice, and just when I need something to do."

Park leaders say visitors play a key role for the park, and that has not changed amid discussions on its potential future.

"We have to continue to focus on taking care of our guests," Park superintendent Michael Jeffreys says. "We are open, we will be open, until we are told otherwise."

Jeffreys says visitors to the park are beneficial. "We welcome everyone to come out, and the perfect way to support us is to come out, spend some money with us, and enjoy the park," Jeffreys says.

The same holds true for Bucks Pocket and DeSoto parks, which are also in danger of potential closure.

As for the students at the tournament, coaches say the park's course serves as a benefit for golf programs at the schools and it's an easy visit, not far from home. "I've played here ever since I was little," Lumpkin says.