More Arizona state parks eyed for closure

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park added to closure list.

[Source: Associated Press] — Three more state parks are being considered for closure because of state budget cuts, bringing to 11 the number that could be shuttered in coming weeks.  Parks Director Ken Travous told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he is adding the three additional parks to a list of eight others previously identified as being considered for closure.

Travous identified the three as Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Jerome State Historic Park in Jerome, and Tonto National Bridge State Park near Payson.  Jerome State Historic Park centers on the Douglas Mansion, a landmark built in the former mining community that overlooks the Verde Valley.  Red Rock State Park, originally part of a ranch, is a 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center.  Tonto Bridge is a natural geological feature located in a valley in pine country below the Mogollon Rim.

The state Parks Board will meet Friday in Peoria to consider cost-cutting measures that include park closures, seasonal closures and reduced hours of operations.  Other options include grant cancellations, shifting expenses to other accounts, and layoffs and unpaid time off for employees.  The board on Feb. 3 declined to take immediate action on park closures but voted to have Travous’ department proceed with planning possible economy moves, including alternatives to closures.

Travous said he has already effectively laid off approximately 65 seasonal employees, including some who had been slated to go on the payroll but now will not.  Parks previously identified as being considered for closure were: Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde, Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, Lyman Lake State Park in Springerville, McFarland State Historic Park in Florence, Oracle State Park in Oracle, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park in Tubac, and Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.  Travous said those were chosen for possible closure because of low visitation rates.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]