Arizona decides to close most state parks

[Source: Los Angeles Times, Nicole Santa Cruz, 1-16-2010] — Wrestling with a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, Arizona decided Friday to close nearly all of its state parks, including the famed Tombstone Courthouse and Yuma Territorial Prison.  The State Parks Board unanimously voted to close 13 parks by June 3.  Eight others had already been closed, and the decision would leave nine open — but only if the board can raise $3 million this year.  The action represents the largest closure of state parks in the nation, although several other states are considering similar moves.

“It’s a dark day for the Arizona state parks system,” said Renee Bahl, the system’s executive director.  “We have 65,000 acres around the state and the majority of them are closing.”  The Arizona parks receive about 2.3 million visitors per year who bring about $266 million into the state, Bahl said.  “It’s unfortunate that a short-term recession is having an impact on our future,” Bahl said.

Arizona isn’t the only state struggling to support its parks.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]