Tourism bill gain approval from House committee

Published 9:55 am Friday, February 23, 2024

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The House Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee gave unanimous approval to two measures, one originating in the House, the other in the Senate, during their meeting on Thursday.

Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Gex Williams, R-Verona, would eliminate the current five-acre land requirement for residential landowners seeking exemptions from having to buy hunting and fishing license to use on their own property. Their family members would also be exempt from the licensing requirement. 

“Instead of aiming for sweeping changes, this bill rectifies legal misunderstandings to enhance the clarity and fairness of our hunting and fishing regulations,” Williams said. 

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Following the vote on SB 5, the panel took up House Resolution 86, which honors the 100th anniversary of the Kentucky State Parks system.

Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, D-Lexington, gave the members a little history lesson on the state parks. “In 1924, the citizens of Bell County, Kentucky, had a vision of establishing a state park that would attract tourism to improve their local economy. The 1924 Kentucky General Assembly created the Kentucky State Park Commission to search for available state park sites in Kentucky.”

The first park created was Cumberland State Park, which was renamed in 1938 to Pine Mountain State Park. Three other parks quickly followed: Natural Bridge State Park, Pioneer Memorial State Park, and Blue-Gray State Park.

Today, the Kentucky State Parks System has grown to 45 parks, 17 of which are resorts with overnight lodging and dining. The system also has eight historic sites, 13 golf courses, 34 pools and beaches, 15 marinas, 30 campgrounds, and 48,000 acres with more than 300 miles of hiking trails.

The resolution notes that Kentucky State Parks have provided a safe haven for Kentuckians who were displaced by natural disasters, first as shelter for victims of the 1937 Ohio River 20 flood; and again in 2021 as shelter for the victims of the deadly tornadoes that struck Western Kentucky.

Both measures now head to the House floor for final action.