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STATE PARKS EMPLOYEES BEING LAID OFF BUDGET CRUNCH TO CUT 40 IN ERIE, NIAGARA COUNTIES

More than 40 temporary employees are being laid off in state parks in Erie and Niagara counties, and officials may decide to combine some of the state's 11 parks regions as a result of the state budget deficit.

Niagara Frontier Regional Parks Director Mario J. Pirastru said Tuesday that 22 temporary employees already have been laid off in the 13 state parks in Erie and Niagara counties, and about 19 more will get pink slips around Jan. 15.

Members of the Niagara Frontier Regional Parks Commission, meeting Tuesday on Grand Island, were told that salaries amounting to $78,000 will have to be eliminated between now and April 1 in the two-county region because of the budget crunch. Pirastru said the commission's 140 permanent employees are not expected to be affected.

Pirastru said snowplowing and salting of park roads would be reduced, but an effort would be made to keep them open as long as they are safe. The grooming of cross-country ski trails is among other activities that may be curtailed, commission members were told.

Among the larger and more popular parks in the Niagara Frontier Region are the State Reservation in Niagara Falls, Artpark in Lewiston, Beaver Island on Grand Island and Evangola in Evans.

Pirastru, who also is filling in as acting director of the neighboring Allegany State Parks Region, said he was in Albany Tuesday for a discussion of "possible further statewide consolidation or restructuring" of the state parks system.

He was named temporary director at Allegany in an austerity move after Hugh J. Dunne Jr. retired last month as regional director there. "There will be cutbacks at Allegany, too," Pirastru said Tuesday evening after he returned here from Albany.

The Allegany Region, headquartered at Salamanca, has jurisdiction over four state parks in Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. The 65,000-acre Allegany State Park is the largest of the four.

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