Governor Jan Brewer Announces Appointments to State Parks Board

Governor Jan Brewer announced the appointments of Mark Brnovich and R.J. Cardin to the Arizona State Parks Board.

“Mark and R.J. are dedicated public servants with a diversity of experience that will benefit users of Arizona’s beautiful system of State Parks,” said Governor Brewer. “Mark is well-versed in the law, and has spent years working to help government operate more efficiently. R.J. has invested his career in parks and recreation, so he’s well-prepared to confront the challenges and opportunities facing State Parks. Together, both men will help ensure Arizona’s thirty state parks remain crown jewels for the people to enjoy.”

Since 2009, Mr. Brnovich has been Director of the Arizona Department of Gaming. Previously, he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the District of Arizona (2007-‘09); Senior Director of State Customer Relations for Corrections Corporation of America (2005-’07); Judge Pro Tem for the Maricopa County Superior Court (2004-’08); and Director of the Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute (2003-’05); Assistant Attorney General (1998-2003); and Deputy County Attorney for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (1992-1998).

Mr. Brnovich earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of San Diego School of Law (1991), and graduated cum laude from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s in Political Science (1988).

Mr. Cardin’s career in parks and recreation spans 25 years. He has been Director of the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department since 2006, a role in which he is responsible for all facets of parks operations and development for the Nation’s largest regional park system.

Earlier, Mr. Cardin worked as: Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Glendale (2001-’06); Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Sioux City, Iowa (1998-2001); Chief of Park Operations (1998), Chief of Research and Marketing (1994-’98) and Recreation Planner (1991-’94) for Arizona State Parks; Research Assistant for the Department of Recreation Management and Tourism at Arizona State University (1989-’91); General Manager of the Ballard Golf and Country Club in Huxley, Iowa (1988-’89); and Manager of Operations at Sheldon Country Club in Sheldon, Iowa (1986-’88).

Mr. Cardin holds a Master of Science in Recreation Management and Tourism from ASU (1993), as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in both Recreation Management and Business Administration from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa (1987).
Mr. Brnovich joins the Arizona State Parks Board for a term that expires in January 2019; he replaces Tracey Jo Westerhausen. Mr. Cardin replaces William C. Scalzo on the Board, and will serve until January 2017. Both appointments require Senate confirmation.

Lawmaker: Funding state parks improvements now saves costs later

[Source: Donyelle Kesler, Cronkite News] – Delaying capital improvements needed after years of deep budget cuts to Arizona State Parks will only exacerbate the problems and increase future costs, a state lawmaker said Wednesday. “If you don’t take care of your infrastructure, it’s like not taking care of your house and if you let that little $2 item go and don’t fix it, you end up with a $100 repair bill,” said Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott.

Fann, whose district includes five state parks, said Arizona has been doing roughly the same thing with its parks for too long. “Not only are we behind the curve on fixing what should have been fixed years ago, but now we have additional problems on top of them,” she said. Bryan Martyn, director of Arizona State Parks, is requesting $15.5 million in Gov. Jan Brewer’s budget for capital improvements. Arizona State Parks hasn’t received money from the state’s general fund since 2009 and currently works off a $19.5 million budget. Officials say state parks have about $200 million in capital needs.

Fann, who pushed successfully last year to allow Arizona State Parks to keep all gate and concession fees, said that parks are vital to the state’s economy. “It is responsible for over 3,000 direct jobs, it is responsible for over $2 million worth of revenue, and so state parks is really something we need to keep open,” Fann said. “This isn’t a feel-good item, this is about our economy. The feel-good and the beauty and all that stuff, that’s just the icing on the cake.”

Cuts to the Arizona State Parks budget led to agreements allowing some communities to take over operations and keep parks operating. Arizona State Parks Board Chairman Tracy Westerhausen said the $15.5 million would be an investment. “It serves the people who come from outside of Arizona to see our parks and enriches the lives of the people who are here already,” she said. Westerhausen said the projects include improving water-treatment systems and electrification of campsites. “We’re under a state mandate to provide clean water to people who come to our parks, and one of the things we can’t do is improve our water structure in the parks,” she said.

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for the governor, said Brewer has taken Martyn’s request into account along with all of the proposals from other state agencies. “Of course state parks are a priority, but so is public safety, classroom education, road and transportation systems, Child Protective Services – all of these issues are important,” Benson said.

Grady Gammage Jr., who as a senior research fellow for Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy co-wrote a 2009 report on ways to fund state parks said the facilities are assets to both the state’s economy and residents. Image

“Part of reason people want to live in Arizona is because of the open space and natural resources of parks and it can have a lot to do with what makes the state attractive to businesses and people moving here,” Gammage said. “If you don’t support that, you risk a lot more than just damaging the parks, you risk damaging this economic engine that drives Arizona.”

Arizona Parks chief asks governor for ‘critical’ $15 mil in funds

[Source: Craig Harris, The Republic] – Arizona Parks Director Bryan Martyn said his agency has “critical funding issues” and is asking for additional state funding of about $15.5million for capital projects, operations and staff. Martyn, a self-described fiscal conservative who is just a few months into the parks job, has asked Gov. Jan Brewer, a fellow Republican, for the additional money in the fiscal 2014 state budget, which begins next July 1. “Arizona State Parks is a car running down the road 100 miles per hour with bald tires,” said Martyn, who became parks director May 1. “We need money for tires and gas.”

Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said the governor and her budget team will weigh Martyn’s proposals. “The Parks Department request has come in like all other budget requests,” Benson said. “The budget process is under way, and the governor’s proposal will come out in the middle of January.” Benson declined to say whether Brewer would support additional funds for state parks.

Martyn said his department is seeking the additional funds because state parks have experienced significant cuts the past few years and have deteriorated. Parks need improvements, he said, because they are a product on which many Arizonans and out-of-state visitors are willing to spend money for something they enjoy.

Some of the money Martyn seeks would fund electrification of campsites at Catalina State Park near Tucson and new launch ramps for boats, roads and parking at Lake Havasu State Park. Martyn said the enhancements would increase visits by customers.

Martyn also wants to:

  • Build and install a potable-water line from Benson to Kartchner Caverns State Park in Cochise County, replacing the current well that draws water from an aquifer that feeds the caverns.
  • Replace a 40-year-old wastewater-treatment plant for Patagonia Lake State Park near Nogales to bring the facility into compliance with state environmental-quality standards.
  • Maintain base salaries for employees who received raises this fiscal year and add seven staff members for program management and administration.
  • Make non-routine repairs and maintenance within the park system.

The state went into its current budget cycle with more than $800 million in cash on hand. Martyn said he believes the state can afford to make an investment in parks. “I will use the money wisely to enhance the product,” said Martyn, who oversees a $21.1 million annual budget with 146 full-time positions. The state has 30 parks, with 27 in operation.

Martyn, a former Pinal County supervisor with 20 years of military experience, said he also plans to aggressively court lawmakers who will craft a budget with Brewer. “Every day, we have to sell state parks,” he said.

State support is essential

[Source: Arizona Republic Editorial] – Budget cutting left the state’s park system seriously wounded. Now, Arizona has to decide if it will leave the parks bleeding. Will the next generation find the kind of robust park experience envisioned by Arizonans who supported state funding for parks with the 1990 Heritage Fund initiative and land acquisition through the 1998 Growing Smarter referendum?

That vision included public support to grow and enrich parks.Or will your grandchildren find a few remnants of an anemic system?

That could be the consequence of years of budget cuts to the state park system, which saw its funding slashed from about $54.7 million in fiscal 2008 to $25.7 million in the past fiscal year.

A report from the state Auditor General’s Office says the Parks Board “was established as a publicly funded agency to provide a system of state parks for the public to enjoy. The loss of state funding … created a need for the state parks system to transition from being publicly funded to paying for its own operating expenditures. However, park receipts have not been sufficient to cover park operating expenditures.”

There was no public outcry to “transition” the parks from state support. In fact, the public repeatedly has used the ballot box to express support for the parks and open spaces.

No wonder. The parks serve a variety of public interests.

Economic: A 2009 study by Northern Arizona University found that state parks visitors had a statewide impact of more than $266 million, plus an additional $22.8 million in state and local taxes. Parks help rural economies.

Recreational: State parks offer hiking, camping and other outdoor experiences.

Educational: Historic landmarks, such as Yuma Territorial Prison State Park, preserve Arizona’s colorful heritage.

Spiritual: Arizona is enriched by the grace, beauty and culture of state parks.

A robust park system says something positive about a state’s vision of itself and its future.

Some might argue that Arizona has plenty of federal land and national parks to satisfy its needs. But Kartchner Caverns, Catalina State Park, Picacho Peak or Tubac Presidio are special, uniquely Arizonan places that deserve state park status. Arizona’s 30 state parks are jewels worth keeping in the public trust for future generations — including your grandkids’.

Arizona’s budget was in deep trouble in 2008 and subsequent years. The Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer had to make painful cuts. However, in 2010, alternatives were proposed to help keep the parks whole. A proposal for a vehicle-registration fee to provide long-term stable funding for the parks never made it out of committee.

Stonewalling that idea suggests some of our elected officials have philosophical reasons for wanting to limit public funding to the parks. But the voting public supports parks.

The auditor general’s report found that reduced funding, coupled with reduced visitation, create long-term risks for the sustainability of the parks. The report lays out some options for partnerships and other alternatives that are worth exploring.

But state support is essential.

Arizona must move beyond the crisis mentality of recession-era budgets and plan for a state park system worthy of Arizona’s amazing history and eye-popping natural heritage.

It’s time to heal the wounds inflicted on Arizona’s park system.