State park closures likely from Arizona budget cuts

[Source: Associated Press] — The head of the state Parks Department says five or more state parks could be closed as a result of spending cuts and fund transfers included in a legislative budget-balancing plan.  Parks Director Ken Travous said Friday he’ll be forced to recommend the closures of five parks to the Parks Board to help implement the funding changes included in the legislative plan.

Travous declined to identify which of the 27 parks would face closure before he makes a recommendation to the board for consideration next week.  But he said several more parks could be closed by summer.  He said the funding cuts would mean layoffs for approximately 100 employees, including 60 seasonal personnel who are already furloughed without pay. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Santa Cruz County gets $85,503 for Rio Rico soccer complex

[Source: Nogales International, Kathleen Vandervoet] – – Santa Cruz County was recently awarded $85,503 for the Robert Damon Recreational Complex Soccer Field. The Arizona State Parks Board on Sept. 19 announced awards of more than $41 million in grants from the Arizona Heritage Fund, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Recreational Trails Grant Fund Program, and the Land Conservation Fund.

The Heritage Fund, created in November 1990, provides up to $10 million annually from Arizona Lottery proceeds. A press release said there are three competitive grant programs offered annually from the Heritage Fund to provide opportunities for the public to enjoy parks and outdoor recreation, and to help preserve natural and cultural resources: Local, Regional and State Parks (LRSP), Historic Preservation, and Trails. The State Parks Board approved a total of $542,293 to six Historic Preservation Heritage Fund grant applicants. [Note: to read the full article click here.]

Take the Arizona Trail Users Survey

This study is part of an effort to develop plans for the State Trails Program and the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program.  The survey is being conducted among parks and trails enthusiasts and organization representatives to ask for input into the trail planning process.  This list was developed by the Arizona State Parks Board and Arizona State University.

Your participation in this survey is very important.  Your answers will help set priorities for trail management in Arizona, and help determine how a portion of the Heritage Fund and the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Fund should be spent.  The Heritage Fund comes from Lottery revenues and the OHV Fund comes from gasoline tax dollars.  Some of these funds go directly to provide recreational trail opportunities and facilities for all Arizona residents and visitors.

The survey will take approximately 15 – 20 minutes to complete.  Your answers to this survey are completely confidential.  Your name will not be connected to your answers in any way.  Your participation in this survey is voluntary; however, you can help us very much by taking a few minutes to share your opinions.  To take the survey, click here.

Arizona State Parks grants lost due to state budget cuts

[Source: Sedona.biz] — The Arizona State Parks department received 12 grant applications this spring requesting approximately $6.5 million from the State Lake Improvement Fund (SLIF).  Unfortunately, because of legislative budget sweeps, those monies must be released to the legislature by August 15, 2008, so the Arizona State Parks Board reluctantly had to release those monies back to the General Fund.

According to Bill Scalzo, Chair of the Arizona State Parks Board, “The State Lake Improvement Fund bill was passed so that tax monies from boat fuel could be used for safety improvements on the lakes, for better law enforcement and boating access.  These safety improvements now cannot be made and we are forced to move the money to the General Fund for other uses.”  “We had no choice but to cancel these grants as the funds were swept from the accounts by the legislature,” he said.

“The State Parks department has struggled since the last round of sweeps in 2002.  At that time the agency was forced to use its capital improvement funds from SLIF ($2.3 million) to operate the parks.  Now the parks are facing many crises as the historic structures and the infrastructures at the parks are deteriorating and we can’t make any improvements.”  [Note: To read the full article click here.]