Arizona state parks take big hit: Grant funding for outdoor capital-improvement projects at issue

[Source: Independent Newspapers, Terrance Thornton 9-28-2009] — The Arizona State Parks Department found its expected $8.6 million general fund allocation this fiscal year on the cutting room floor due to a $4 billion deficit to the state budget.  In the face of such severe cuts, we just cannot continue to operate as we did before and as the public has become accustomed,” said Arizona State Parks Assistant Director Jay Ziemann in a written response to e-mailed questions.  “In 2010, five parks will be closed to the public — Jerome, Tonto Natural Bridge, McFarland, Oracle and San Rafael — and another 17 will have reduced or seasonal hours of operation.”

In addition to budget reductions, the state parks department is facing suspended grant programs, Mr. Ziemann explained.  Grant programs from the Heritage Fund and the State Lake Improvement Fund, which communities across the state have come to rely on, have been cancelled,” he said.  In Apache Junction, the Lost Dutchman State Park, 6109 N. Apache Trail, will at this point only have its campgrounds operated to meet seasonal demands, Mr. Ziemann said. [Note: To read the full story, click here.]

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