[Source: Pete Aleshire, Payson Roundup] — Residents of the Rim Country continue to fight to keep the state from making Tonto Natural Bridge another casualty of the budget crisis. Rim Country officials hope they can win a commitment to reopen Tonto Natural Bridge State Park as early as June at an April 3 Arizona State Parks Board meeting in the Valley.
In addition, local leaders hope that a recently appointed task force studying the long-term future of the state’s battered system of 28 parks will explore creative ways to bolster the region’s best-known tourist draw. That task force will consider public-private partnerships and joint operating agreements as a way to keep parks open. “I’m optimistic, but we’ve got to keep the pressure on them,” said Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Manager John Stanton, following two meetings involving top state park officials, Rim Country leaders and local state lawmakers. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]