Bring back the state parks Heritage Fund

[Source: William C Thornton, Arizona Republic Opinion] – As negotiations continue between Gov. Jan Brewer and legislative leaders, questions remain about what will or will not be included in the new budget. One thing is certain. The budget will not contain a dime of new funding for State Parks nor will it restore the parks Heritage Fund.

The people of Arizona are the big losers.

Enacted by voters in 1990, the Heritage Fund directed $20 million in Lottery money to be divided equally each year between State Parks and the Department of Game and Fish. The $10 million for parks often served as seed money for matching grants. The total yearly impact was typically $20 million or more.

Heritage Fund grants developed new parks, and built and improved trails, campgrounds, picnic facilities, boat docks and ramps. Historic restoration grants helped preserve important parts of our rich cultural heritage such as the Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff, the Tombstone Courthouse, Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson and the historic Yuma Crossing.

If you hunt, fish, hike, camp, boat, picnic or share my love of Arizona history, the parks Heritage Fund benefited you.

Even if you’ve never visited a state park or historic site. you’ve benefited from the Heritage Fund-fueled economic engine that brings dollars and supports jobs. A 2007 study estimated that 224 jobs were directly supported by parks Heritage Fund grants.

State parks and historic sites attract more than 2 million visitors, about half from out of state, who add $266 million to our state’s economy each year. These visitors support an additional 3,000 jobs, mostly in rural areas heavily impacted by the economic downturn.

In response to the economic downturn and a decline in tax revenue, the Legislature swept the state parks allocation into the general fund in 2010 and, inexplicably, eliminated the fund in July 2010.

Thanks to former Rep. Russ Jones and Rep. Ethan Orr, bills to restore the parks Heritage Fund were introduced in three consecutive legislative sessions. In each case the bill was voted out of committee with unanimous bipartisan support only to die in the House Appropriations Committee.

If Arizona legislators and business leaders are serious about attracting companies such as Tesla Motors, they may want to think about the message we send when we fail to invest in our parks. Low taxes aren’t the only consideration when companies decide where to locate a new facility. Outdoor recreational opportunities consistently rank near the top of quality of life issues that attract high-paying jobs, and our parks play a major role.

As the legislative session winds down, House Speaker Andy Tobin’s proposed monument to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire seems certain to pass. It should.

The question of how to pay the estimated $500,000 cost must be addressed. A restored parks Heritage Fund could have been the solution. Let’s bring it back.

William C. Thornton is a second-generation Arizonan and member of the Arizona Heritage Alliance Board.

Story Highlights

  • The Heritage Fund provided $10 million to state parks until the Legislature eliminated the program
  • The fund supports the sort of quality of life that helps attract high-paying jobs
  • The Legislature should restore the fund

Group continues to work to restore Heritage Fund

[Source: Bonnie Bariola,] – The Arizona Heritage Alliance continues working toward the reinstatement of the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund. Heritage Alliance President Elizabeth Woodin said, “since the drastic, secretive removal of half of your Heritage Fund in March 2010 by state legislators, the diverse, enthusiastic, engaged, all-volunteer Arizona Heritage Alliance board and membership have been working ever-more vigorously to increase the visibility of the Heritage Fund to the citizens of Arizona, to protect the Fund and its objectives, and to devise a plan to recapture the plundered dollars and statutory language of the State Parks Heritage Fund.”

The Arizona Heritage Alliance was one of the leaders of the 2013 Environmental Day at the Arizona Capitol in February 2013. Meeting with several bipartisan legislators, Representative Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) agreed to introduce HB 2594, Local Transportation Assistance Fund; Restoration, which would have reinstated the State Parks Heritage Fund in its original form.

Also in February 2013, the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee made a motion that carried by a vote of 8-0-0-0; however, this measure was suppressed in the State House before it could even get a full debate.

In June of 2013, Arizona Heritage Alliance Board President Elizabeth Woodin and Board member Russ Jones (former legislator from Yuma) made a presentation to the Governor’s Natural Resources Review Council (NRRC) regarding the restoration of the State Parks Heritage Fund. They asked the NRRC to recommend to Governor Brewer to put this valuable program back into the state budget, especially the grant program.

Benefits to Florence

The Heritage Fund supplied valuable programs and resources for both Arizona visitors and especially jobs for residents. The Heritage Fund provides economic, environmental, education, tourism, and quality of life benefits that are far too important for this fund to be lost forever.

Florence residents have benefited from the Heritage Fund in the past because it provided grant funds for partial construction costs for: Heritage Park, Clarke House rehabilitation, Silver King Marketplace rehabilitation, Chapel of the Gila and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church rehabilitation, True Value Hardware, 2nd Pinal County Courthouse, several private residences, and the Harvey/Niemeyer House.

Had a Heritage Fund Grant not been in place when the east wall of the Chapel of The Gila collapsed back in the early 1990s, it would have been lost forever. Also, if the Heritage Fund had not been available as the first grant assistance for the Florence Preservation Foundation (FPF), the Silver King/Florence Hotel would have been razed many years ago.  The Heritage Fund provided several Heritage Fund grants for the FPF during the stabilization of the building.

It is also thanks to the Heritage Fund, the FPF, and Donovan Kramer, Sr. for saving the very important Clarke House which is now home to the Florence Reminder and Blade Tribune newspaper.

Members of the Heritage Alliance continue to expand partnerships with historic preservation groups, Arizona League of Cities and Towns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, Arizona Forward and other appropriate organizations. Hopefully all of these activities are moving us closer to regaining the missing half of the Heritage Fund, which is an essential building block for a better and stronger quality of life and economic future for all Arizonans.

For additional information about the Arizona Heritage Alliance go to

(Editor’s Note:  Bonnie Bariola is a member of the Arizona Heritage Alliance representing the Florence Preservation Foundation.)

Heritage Fund creates jobs in rural areas: Arizona Heritage Alliance makes presentation to the Natural Resources Review Council

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Florence Reminder] – The purpose of the Arizona Natural Resources Review Council (NRRC) is to protect state interests related to wildlife, land, water, and natural resources by actively engaging and countering federal encroachment on state authorities tasked with managing Arizona’s natural resources. It was established by Executive Order by Governor Jan Brewer on January 14, 2013.

The Executive Order stated the Council was to develop land and natural resource management strategies for Arizona and coordinate with state natural resource agencies and their existing management plans. Members of the Council include the directors of the following state departments: Game and Fish, Land, Environmental Quality, Water Resources, State Forester, Geological Survey, State Parks, and Agriculture. The chair is designated by the Governor and is currently Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The Council was directed to prepare a comprehensive report and plan for the Governor for long-term land and natural resource management. The report should include and address multiple use and sustained yield approaches, public access issues, and sustainable economic development. In addition, the Council is to develop a coordinated and centralized Geographic Information System database model that identifies current and future management priorities for designated land and natural resource areas.

An additional request is for the Council to identify and prioritize legal, legislative, and incentive-based needs that protect and maintain state interests related to wildlife, land, water, and other natural resources. The governor also directed the Council to provide her with recommendations on a statewide approach to mitigation and conservation banking that includes state government, local governments, and the private sector in order to meet long-term natural resource conservation objectives.

The chair of the Council appointed a subcommittee to research and prepare results for each of the above directives. Prior to the Call to the Public at which time the Arizona Heritage Alliance was to make their presentation, each subcommittee chair gave a report on the status of their particular directive. It was amazing how much research the subcommittees have accomplished in six months. Chairman Voyles stated he wanted them to continue being aggressive with their research so they could have a final report to the governor as soon as possible.

Heritage Fund

The Heritage Fund presentation was made by Beth Woodin, the Arizona Heritage Alliance board president and Russ Jones, board member and former state representative. In 1990 the citizens of Arizona approved Proposition 200 with 62 percent support for the formation of the Heritage Fund in an amount of up to $20 million from the Arizona lottery with $10 million to be administered by Arizona State Parks and $10 million to be administered by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The distribution of the Arizona State Parks portion was:

·        35% – Local, Regional, and State parks

·        17% – Historic Preservation

·        17% – Acquisition and Development

·        17% – Natural Areas Acquisition

·        04% – Natural Areas Operation and Maintenance

·        05% – Environmental Education

·        05% – Trails

These monies supported: critical and endangered species and habitat, environmental education, historic preservation, non-motorized trails, and parks and recreation acquisition and improvements.

The Arizona Game and Fish monies were not touched by the Legislature and are used to:  

  • Conserve wildlife and maintain its habitat in areas surrounding cities;
  • Carry out wildlife research, surveys, and management of habitat for sensitive species;
  • Ensure access to public lands for outdoor recreation, sometimes by creating roads or trails;
  • Develop and maintain wildlife habitat projects at schools or adjacent areas for wildlife education;
  • Enhance or develop conservation/environmental school education programs;
  • Acquire habitat.

    The Arizona State Parks monies were used for:

  • Historic Preservation projects;
  • Hiking trails;
  • Picnic ramadas and park landscaping;
  • Ballfield lighting and improvements;
  • Playground equipment;
  •  Acquisitions and capital needs.

Heritage Fund for parks eliminated

In 2009 the Legislature swept the state parks portion of the Heritage Fund resulting in Arizona State Parks rescinding $6 million in Heritage Fund grants already awarded, leaving grantees with projects that were incomplete. Then, in 2010 the Legislature completely eliminated the State Parks Heritage Fund language from state statutes. As the result of the Arizona Heritage Alliance working with the Legislature, in February 2011, 2012, and 2013 the House Agriculture and Water Committee initiated and passed unanimously bills to reinstate the Arizona State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund. Unfortunately House Appropriations Chairman Kavanagh refused to hear these Heritage Fund Reinstatement Bills in his committee. which killed the bills.

In 2011, the Arizona Heritage Alliance and Arizona State Parks commissioned an Economic Impact Statement through the Arizona Hospitality Research and Resource Center at Northern Arizona University. Their study showed, among other benefits to Arizona, that direct expenditures from the State Parks Heritage Fund resulted in 125 direct jobs, 33 indirect jobs, and 66 induced jobs, for a total of 224 jobs per year, mostly occurring in rural areas of Arizona. This portion of the Heritage Fund created a tremendous economic impact to the state by promoting economic development, creating more jobs and heritage tourism, revitalizing historic sites and areas, and increasing property values.

The Arizona Natural Resources Review Council was then asked to recommend to Governor Brewer to reinstate the State Parks Heritage Fund, especially the grant program which supplied valuable programs and resources for both Arizona residents and visitors. The Council was also told the Heritage Fund provided economic, environmental, education, tourism and quality of life benefits that are too important to be lost.

Their presentation concluded with the following statement:  “If you hike, boat, ride, hunt, fish, watch wildlife, visit a park, or tour historic sites, then Arizona’s Heritage Fund affects your life.  We need to protect the Heritage Fund and improve it — not eliminate it!”

The Arizona Natural Resources Review Council’s meetings are open to the public. The meetings are usually held at the State Capitol Building but the June 25 meeting was held at the Arizona Game and Fish Department complex located on Carefree Highway in northwest Phoenix.

The “State of State Parks”

Bryan Martyn, Arizona State Parks Director, gave a detailed “state of state parks” update to the Arizona Heritage Alliance‘s board of directors this morning. — with Bob White, Barbra Barnes, Woody Wilson, Russ Jones and Peter Culp at Flinn Foundation on February 19, 2013.