Phoenix, AZ – As Gov. Jan Brewer signed off on the final budget late Wednesday, state parks throughout Arizona will likely face more closures in the coming months.
“We are disappointed in the Governor’s lack of leadership to protect our parks,” stated Environment Arizona’s Environmental Associate Bret Fanshaw. “Not being able to keep the revenue you earn is no way to run a business. It should not be how we treat our park system.”
The final $8.3 billion budget raids $3.5 million from funds which directly support Arizona’s 30 state parks. This includes $2 million from the Enhancement Fund and $1.5 million from the State Lake Improvement Fund. The Enhancement Fund consists in part of revenue collected at the gate from park visitors.
“Instead of working to keep special places like Red Rock, Lost Dutchman and Tonto Natural Bridge open, our state leaders voted to put them at risk,” continued Fanshaw. “State parks need a permanent funding solution, not another year of closures.”
Over the past three years, the Arizona Legislature has cut over $72 million from state parks. Last year, 17 of Arizona’s state parks were slated to close because of severe budget cuts. Many have reopened with the help of local communities and organizations, but mostly under short-term agreements of one to two years.
According to a recent study by the Arizona State Park Foundation and PROS Consulting, state parks brought $223 million in economic benefit to Arizona in 2010.
Two state parks are currently closed – Lyman Lake & Oracle – and four others are operating on limited schedules. The next state parks board meeting will be held on Wednesday May 11, 2011.