Arizona’s State Parks May Be On the Chopping Block

A bill passed this week by the Arizona legislature will lead ultimately to the closure of all state parks, according to the Arizona State Parks Foundation, including those along the Colorado River such as Buckskin Mountain, River Island, Cattail Cove and Windsor Beach.

The bill cuts more than $9 million of Parks funds, leaving the agency with only about $10 million in its 2010 budget. That’s less than 30 percent of the parks normal funding and not enough to continue park operations beyond this fiscal year.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona legislature are seeking $205 million in cuts to mitigate a deficit estimated to be $1.5 billion. The Foundation says the proposed cuts to State Parks would provide just 4 percent of their goal, while shutting down the Parks’ annual contribution to the Arizona economy of more than $266 million.

The cuts will force major reductions in Parks staff and closure of more than half of the State’s 30 parks this fiscal year. The resulting loss of Park revenue is projected to leave the Parks System with no money to start the next fiscal year, July 1, 2010. The next step would be to shut down the entire system and dispose of Parks properties, returning most of them to their original owners.



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