Verde Valley leaders seek options to keep state parks open

[Source: Steve Ayers, Verde Valley News] — There are few places in Arizona that will feel the impact of cuts to the Arizona State Parks budget as much as the Verde Valley.  With three recreational parks, two historic parks, and the Verde River Greenway, the valley encompasses almost one in five of the agency’s properties.

Last week the state legislature passed a bill that will cut State Parks budget in half.  The legislature cut it by one third earlier in this year.  Of the valley’s five parks only one makes money.  In 2008, the last year there are cost and revenue figures for, Slide Rock State Park generated $217,167 in revenue.  The other four parks operated a cumulative loss of nearly $500,000.

But local leaders and other advocates of the park system argue that profit loss statements for the individual parks do not tell the whole story.  In fact, a recent study of the state parks system estimated the parks generated over $250 million in taxes and other economic impacts statewide, while operating at a cost to the state of $2.3 million.

“These parks are huge for us.  They are revenue generators.  Closing them is like cutting off your nose off to spite your face,” argues County Supervisor Chip Davis.  “If the legislature could just help us out a little I believe we could put this together.”  [Note: Read the full article at Verde Valley leaders seek options to keep state parks open.]