Budget plan avoids more Arizona state park closures

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — The state will likely avoid closing additional parks under a budget plan adopted Monday by the Arizona State Parks Board.  The board voted to adopt a $21.4 million budget that will preserve most hours of operations at the state’s 30 parks.  The parks system closed McFarland and Jerome state historic parks earlier this year after lawmakers slashed its budget by more than $36 million in the past year.  The parks board will meet next month to set new priorities and determine whether the parks will be reopened.

“It’s dark days,” said Renee Bahl, the parks system’s executive director.  “The bottom line is there’s just no more money.”

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, which also closed as part of cost-saving measures for the parks system, re-opened on weekends this summer with funding from the town of Payson.  The state’s agreement with Payson ended Sunday, and officials were hoping to negotiate an extension this week. Otherwise, the park will close.  [Note: To read the full article, click here]