National Trust issues “Action Alert!” on State Parks funding cuts

Funding cuts will affect the repair and upkeep of park sites such as the historic lodge at Tonto Natural Bridge.  Photo courtesy of AZ State Parks FoundationAct now to save Arizona’s state parks and historic treasures from funding cuts!

The Arizona Legislature has proposed a list of parks-fund cuts totaling $38.3 million in the current fiscal year to help offset the projected $1 billion budget deficit in Arizona. The affected funds support critically-needed capital projects in state parks as well as essential grant programs to counties and municipalities for parks, historic resources, and open space. This plan will leave the parks department with no resources to stop the steady deterioration of Arizona’s parks and historic resources.

Arizona parks suffer from disastrous consequences of deferred maintenance and underfunding.  The Parks Department has identified nearly $44 million in urgent capital needs encompassing 27 of the 30 state parks including the historic lodge at Tonto Natural Bridge, Douglas Mansion in Jerome, and McFarland Courthouse in Florence.  The proposed cuts would leave the parks system unable to pay for critical upkeep and improvements to these and other treasured resources.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Write, e-mail, or call your state senators and state representatives today and urge them to take the state parks system out of their budget cross hairs.  The future of the park system is at stake. Click here to find your state senate and representative contacts.

Talking Points:

  • Arizona parks are facing funding cuts far out of proportion to their tiny impact on the state budget; if painful cuts need to be made, they should be made in a way that spreads the sacrifice fairly.
  • Arizona State Parks contribute far more to the economy than they cost; they are home to some of the state’s most important heritage assets that drive the state’s tourism economy. Parks generate about $126 million annually in tourist revenue for counties and municipalities, according to a 2002 study by Northern Arizona University.
  • The proposed cuts couldn’t come at a worse time: Parks still haven’t recovered from the $40 million hit they took in the 2002-3 budget; the Parks Department has identified nearly $44 million in urgent capital needs encompassing 27 of the 30 state parks.
  • Proposed budget cuts would reduce the overall budget deficit by less than half of 1 percent, while virtually destroying State Parks ability to stabilize and repair deteriorating cultural sites that provide recreational and educational opportunities for millions of Arizonans and visitors to our state.

For additional information:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately funded non-profit organization that provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America’s diverse historic places and revitalize our communities.