Viewpoint: Arizona State Parks blind-sided Jerome

[Source: Dan Engler, Editor, Verde Valley News] — During the past month the rallying cry from the folks at Arizona State Parks is that the Legislature does not care about the state parks system.  By the same token, it’s also fair to say that Arizona State Parks does not care much about the communities in which their parks reside.  In early February, State Parks Director Ken Travous recommended to his board that five state parks in Arizona be closed immediately followed by three more later in the year.  Included among those parks initially recommended for closure was Fort Verde State Park in Camp Verde.

The Parks Board was not so convinced that it should take such drastic measures, even though the state is broke and there are few state parks in Arizona that generate profit-making revenue.  Nearly three weeks later, Travous announced that he was sticking to his guns about the necessity for closing some of Arizona’s state parks, and among those topping the list this time around was Jerome State Historic Park and Red Rock State Park in Sedona.  He made his announcement on a Thursday, and one day later it was a done deal. [Note: To read the full editorial, click here. To read a reader’s opposing viewpoint, click here.]

Viewpoint: Regional rescue plan needed to keep Fort Verde state park open

Fort Verde State Historic Park

[Source: Dan Engler, Editor, Verde News] — Talk of government budget cuts are often like the boy who cried wolf.  They’re designed to attract attention.  They are the means to an end.  Such was the case the last time the folks from Arizona State Parks announced plans to close some of our state parks in the Verde Valley.  It was March 1991 and both Fort Verde and Dead Horse State Parks were on the chopping block.  At least that was what we were told by Arizona State Parks.

It caused an uproar.  More than 100 folks showed up to a public meeting in Cottonwood to protest the closing of Dead Horse. There, we learned courtesy of former District 1 Rep. Don Aldridge, that State Parks was playing poker.  The strategy, Aldridge explained, was to create controversy in various communities throughout the state to stimulate political pressure to preserve, or even bolster, the budget of State Parks.  Aldridge characterized it as bureaucratic gamesmanship and outright scare tactics.

In the end, Aldridge was proved right when former Gov. Fife Symington devised a plan to earmark 50 percent of State Parks’ acquisition of development fund to maintain the operation of the existing parks, Fort Verde and Dead Horse among them. State Parks simply was given permission to shift funds from one portion of its budget — the Kartchner Caverns slush fund — to another to stem the early ’90s so-called budget crisis.

The boy who cried wolf was exposed.  His bluff was called.  This time, it’s different.  This is not a case of crying wolf.  This budget crisis is the real thing.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]