Arizona state parks at risk for closure

[Source:] — On Monday the state parks board meets.  The chairman says it’s the most important meeting in its 50 year history.  The board will determine the operating budget, strategic plan for the next 3 years, and most importantly whether the parks can remain open.  Arizona has 30 state parks.  The state’s parks board oversees the state historic preservation office.  And gives out grants to communities for all types of outdoor recreation.

So they need $27 million to operate the agency and it looks like the budget will be cut in half.  If parks are forced to close some say the impact will be felt throughout the community.  [Note: To read the full story, click here]

Arizona State Parks director gets 11% raise amid budget crisis

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — As the Arizona State Parks Board was entering the budget crisis that threatens to close eight parks and cause dozens of layoffs, the board gave its director an 11% raise.  Ken Travous, who has worked for the board since 1986, saw his salary increase in November by more than $14,000, to $142,811.  The move was made retroactive to July 1, 2008, to ensure Travous receives increased benefits when he retires June 30.

The news has rankled some parks employees, who are bracing for possible layoffs when the board considers closing parks later this month.  Most state employees received raises of 2% or less over the past four years.  Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter, said salary increases for top officials can make it more difficult to convince the Legislature that more funds are needed for park operating expenses.  “Throwing that into the mix kind of undercuts the message,” she said.  “When you’re talking about laying people off and furloughing people and closing parks, everyone is going to have to do their part.  So it does not seem like a good time.” 

Board Chairman Reese Woodling said Travous approached him about a raise last year, noting that he had not received a salary increase since 2004.  Woodling, who helped hire Travous, said Travous has a distinguished record of service and deserved a raise.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona State Parks Board letter to Gov. Napolitano

July 30, 2008

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
State of Arizona
1700 W. Washington, 9th Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85007

Dear Governor Napolitano:

We appreciate your continued leadership in protecting and enhancing Arizona’s natural and cultural resources. The Arizona State Parks Board met on July 18 and 19, 2008, to assess the impact of this year’s budget cuts and to prepare recommendations for you for FY 2010 and beyond. We recognize the dire financial circumstances surrounding this year’s budget and applaud your ability to find and maintain a balance between the variety of needs of our citizenry and our current capacity to respond.

We are a Board that is made up entirely of your appointees and are seeking ways to reverse the deterioration of the State Park’s infrastructure. We recognize that FY 2009’s budget will be just as challenging as this year’s budget.

On July 18, 2008, the Parks Board passed a Motion regarding operating budgets in FY 2009, FY 2010 and FY 2011. The Motion is consistent with the constraints suggested by your budget staff. As part of the Motion, we unanimously voted to seek your support in appointing a Blue Ribbon Committee whose charge would be to determine the present and future needs of the State Park System and explore new revenue sources. The Arizona State Parks Board requests that you appoint such a Committee by November 30, 2008, and ask them to report back to you with recommendations on or before June 30, 2009.

Our current State Parks System is in dramatic need of new resources. There has not been adequate investment in our infrastructure for more than a decade. Hence, key conservation opportunities need to be taken to allow Arizonans and Arizona’s visitors to experience and embrace the special areas of this great State of Arizona. Arizona’s “lifestyle,” which is a major factor in our State’s growing economy, is dependant upon a good statewide parks and recreation system. State Parks has and should continue to provide assistance to local governments for their historical preservation and recreation programs. We would hope that you would charge your task force to answer some key policy questions:

  • What impact does Arizona State Parks’ recreation facilities have on the overall economic development of this State?
  • What new methods of financing could the State utilize in order to provide for efficient and effective parks and recreation areas and facilities?
  • Should there be a priority in the acquisition and development of water-based recreational resources?
  • What changes need to be made in long range planning and coordination to ensure the most effective implementation of the statewide park and recreation policies and programs?
  • Are there new creative intergovernmental resources for management and acquisition strategies?

Members of our Board are willing to serve on the task force or in any manner you suggest to help with this necessary exploration of new funding sources for the Arizona State Parks.  We have instructed our Arizona State Parks staff that this is a top priority for their activities if you chose to appoint a Blue Ribbon Committee.  As your appointees, Governor, we share your vision of balancing smart growth with quality natural and cultural resource protection and enhancement.  Arizona State Parks is a critical part of this and we are pledged to work with you to help you achieve a better Arizona.


William C. Scalzo, Chairman
Arlan Colton
William C. Cordasco
Larry Landry
Tracey Westerhausen
Mark Winkleman, State Land Commissioner
Reese Woodling