Our View: Don’t Kill Arizona’s State Parks Board Now

Picacho Peak State Park

Arizona Forward: Open Letter to Their Members

Source:  Email blast from Arizona Forward, February 8, 2017

The Arizona Legislature is considering a bill that includes a repeal the Arizona State Parks Board (HB2369), which we strongly oppose.  As part of Arizona Forward’s historic advocacy of parks and open space, as well as our work in creating a primer on the economic benefits of Arizona’s natural assets, we have registered our opposition to this measure and encourage you to do the same!

The State Parks Board provides citizens’ oversight to State Parks and is composed of people with various backgrounds, including recreation, tourism, and livestock, as well as the general public. Its purpose is to “select, acquire, preserve, establish, and maintain areas of natural features, scenic beauty, historical and scientific interest, and zoos and botanical gardens for the education, pleasure, recreation, and health of the people….”

On February 2, 2017, the House Government Committee voted 5-3-0 to repeal the Arizona States Park Board. I testified against the measure and will keep you updated as it moves the legislative process. Elimination of this important board will result in less transparency, fewer opportunities for public engagement on a broad level, and one less entity to advocate for a parks system badly in need of more advocates.

Please take action by sending a message to your state representatives today! If you are not sure who your legislators are, go to Find My Legislator and click on the link where you enter your address. You can then select legislators to find their contact information. Be sure to leave a message with an assistant or on voicemail.

We must be good stewards of these amazing resources, and need your help to ensure that happens!

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DIANE BROSSART
President & CEO
Arizona Forward

Since the publication of this letter, HB2369 is scheduled to be heard by the House Rules Committee on Monday, February 13, 2017 at 12:45 p.m. in HHR4.  Here is a link to the agenda. 

What We Mean By “Government At The Speed of Business:

Source:  Office of the Governor Doug Ducey blog, September 30, 2016

In January 2015, during his first State of the State Address, Governor Doug Ducey stated loud and clear that “our government needs to operate at the speed of business.”  This week, a number of announcements prove that Arizona’s government is closer to reaching that goal, with agencies working more productively, more efficiently, and doing so at a lesser cost to taxpayers.

On Wednesday, (September 28, 2016)  the Governor’s Office announced that Arizona State Parks achieved record visitation and revenue in fiscal year 2016:

More than 2.68 million people visited the parks, contributing $16.4 million in revenue to the State Parks system, an increase from $14.4 million in fiscal year 2015.  Visitors to Arizona State Parks contribute nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to Arizona’s economy, according to a 2014 Northern Arizona University study.

imagesArizona State Parks exemplify the best of Arizona,” said Governor Ducey.  “We are thrilled that more Arizonans and tourists are embracing the adventure that our stunning parks offer, from the Kartchner Caverns in Benson to the Tonto National Bridge in Payson. A financially healthy park system is key to preserving our state parks, and growing attendance will provide further economic benefits to communities throughout Arizona.”

Cattail Cove Proposal gets Legislative Committee’s Backing at $6.4 million

Source:  Today’s News-Herald Havasunews.com – September 27, 2016

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated the price of each cabin. The information came from the Associated Press. The state would have the option to purchase each cabin at a price of $4,500 after six years, according to a state parks spokesman. The story has been updated to reflect the accurate information.

An Arizona legislative committee has backed a planned $6.4 million redevelopment of Cattail Cove State Park, as well as millions more dollars toward parks throughout the state to improve amenities at state campgrounds.

The funding may mark the reversal of a downward trend in budget cuts to the State Parks agency since 2012, according to records from the Arizona Budget Appropriations Committee. Four years ago, State Parks operated with a budget of about $96 million. By 2016, that budget had been slashed by more than $60 million, according to budget records.

The state also will fund $2.5 million in projects at five other parks to fund expansion and improvements to existing state parks such as Buckskin Mountain State Park near Parker and Alamo State Park in La Paz County. The state also recently announced it was planning a new state park near Contact Point.

“I’m excited to see them renovating and refurbishing the area,” said State Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City. “It’s going to positively affect the district and obviously Havasu, and it’s very exciting to see the state paying attention to Mohave County. We are the gateway to Arizona.”

Borrelli believes the renovations will have a positive impact on the Havasu region’simages economy as state lands see improvements and upgrades over the next several years. Proposed renovations to Sandpoint Marina and Cattail Cove have lain dormant for years, Borrelli said, and completing those renovations will bolster tourism and economic development for the Havasu region.

Lake Havasu Marine Association CEO Jim Salscheider says potential development of Cattail Cove and Sandpoint Marina would make Havasu’s future much brighter. Sandpoint Marina was once a popular destination for RV motorists, but was closed in 2015 when State Parks chose not to renew the operators’ lease over the land.

“Sandpoint has great views and a marina,” Salscheider said. “I see a great future there. Cattail Cove is a great campground, and they can have high-end motor coaches at the marina – it will bring in two kinds of clientele coming from California. The renovations would also spread boating traffic out, which would be a big plus for the lake and the boaters who use it.”

Through the deal, six of Arizona’s state parks will have the option of purchasing 100 cabins from an undisclosed vendor, at a cost of $4,500 per cabin after six years, and then receive 100 percent of rental revenue, according to the Associated Press.

The state currently maintains 28 cabins at Roper Lake, Alamo Lake, Dead Horse Ranch and Lyman Lake State Parks. The rate of occupancy for each of those cabins is about 50 percent this year, and State Parks officials believe there is a market for more of them throughout Arizona.