Our Starving Parks

Arizona State Parks (ASP) is facing the most devastating budget year in its 50 year history.  The State Legislature is proposing to appropriate or sweep funds that enable the department to invest in its own neglected capital and maintenance needs.  Grants to Arizona communities for parks, open space, and historic preservation are also on the chopping block.  Your Arizona State Park system is at stake.

Impacts of Proposed Cuts to Arizona State Parks Budget

  • Devastating budget cuts proposed.  Legislative proposals for trimming a $1 billion state budget deficit by cutting $38.3 million in funds available to Arizona State Parks would leave the parks system unable to meet basic upkeep and maintenance requirements.
  • Damaging past cuts still being felt.  Because of massive cuts to the Arizona State Parks budget in FY2003, many parks remain in serious disrepair with buildings falling down, inadequate water systems, eroding shorelines at Colorado River parks, and failing wastewater systems that could force parks to close.  This is only a partial list of needs.
  • Cuts out of proportion to deficit woes.  State Parks receives $8.2 million in general fund appropriations – less than 1/10th of one percent of the current $1 billion deficit.  Proposed cuts to the Arizona State Parks budget would do virtually nothing to fix the deficit problem, but would see sacrifice the value of some of state’s finest assets.
  • Cuts would harm system that generates revenues.  Cutting the Arizona State Parks budget would erode the department’s ability to generate revenues from park visitor fees and harm communities that derive major economic benefits from local park operations.  A 2002 study by Northern Arizona University showed that our state parks system generates $126 million for local economies.
  • Slashing funds in face of growing demands makes no sense.  Not keeping the system whole in the face of increasing public demands on parks facilities makes absolutely no sense.  More than 2.3 million people visit state parks each year.  Yet funds for operating the system have remained flat for the past five years despite relentless cost hikes such as an annual increase of $500,000 in parks fuel and utility costs.
  • Arizonans deserve to have their parks protected — Arizonans own their parks.  You purchased and developed these valuable assets over the past 50 years and you deserve to have them protected.  If the state is serious about quality growth, it must also be serious about protecting the recreational, natural, and cultural resources of a system that encompasses some of the most scenic and environmentally unique places in the Southwest.

Visit our “What You Can Do” section for steps you can take to protect our starving parks.