Downtown Phoenix rally urges lawmakers to keep state parks open

[Source:, Tara Twietmeyer, 2-2-2010] — The lawn at the State Capitol was packed with demonstrators Monday holding signs that read, “Closed parks? Shame on you!”  In the midst of major budget cuts nearly 200 people gathered to try and persuade the states lawmakers to find money to keep state parks open.  “We understand the Legislature has a tough budget to deal with, but there’s no reason for them to do what they did to parks,” Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club Arizona Chapter said.

Last month, after new budget cuts from the Legislature, the Arizona State Board voted to close 13 state parks by the end of June.  Eight others are either already closed, were transferred to outside control or are being kept open through an outside funding source.

Monday, demonstrators said closing even more parks would bring more money problems to rural areas which rely on tourism. They are proposing a bill that would charge Arizonans an annual fee when they register their vehicle, which would allow them into parks for free [Note: To read the full article, click here.] Photos (c) Tye R. Farrell

Sierra Club: Tell lawmakers to save Arizona State Parks

[Source: Tucson Weekly, Jim Nintzel, 1-29-2010] — The latest bulletin from Sierra Club lobbyist Sandy Bahr:  Hi everyone!  Don’t forget Environmental Day — Rally for Parks at the Capitol on Monday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  We will have a brief program on the House Lawn.  Speakers will focus on parks and environmental programs and let us know how we can help turn the tide.

Please contact your legislators and tell them you support State Parks!  Ask them to:

  • Discontinue the transfer of monies from the Heritage Fund to the State Forester.
  • Eliminate all of the Fund Reductions and Transfers and Excess Balance Transfers from December 2009 — totaling about $8.6 million.
  • Allow Parks to keep all enhancement dollars (park fees) for operations, including those being collected currently.
  • Reject proposals for Fiscal Year 2011 that would divert all of the Heritage Fund dollars to the General Fund or any proposals to permanently divert all of the lottery revenues to the General Fund. This affects Game and Fish habitat and endangered species programs too.
  • Support a program that would allow Arizona residents with an Arizona license plate to visit all Arizona parks without paying an entrance fee. This can be accommodated by implementation of a $9 fee on Arizona vehicle licenses that will generate about $39 million, which will allow parks to maintain and operate the system.
  • Stop all Fund Reductions and Transfers and Excess Balance Transfers — keep fee funds for their intended purposes.
  • Expand partnerships with local governments and volunteer entities to keep parks operating and maintained.
  • Recognize parks and open space as integral to our quality of life, our economy, and to the future of our state and generations yet to come.

To email your legislators or find their direct phone numbers, click on Legislators or paste into your browser.  If you’re outside the Phoenix area, you can call your legislators’ offices toll free at 1-800-352-8404.  In the Phoenix area call (602) 926-3559 (Senate) or (602) 926-4221 (House) and ask them to connect you with your legislators.

Citizens speak out on behalf of Arizona State Parks, Jan. 15, at packed Phoenix Zoo meeting

Clip #1: Ken Travous, former Director, Arizona State Parks; Cindy Sherman, Volunteer at Riordan Mansion State Historic Park; and Susan Culp.

Clip #2: Cristie Statler, Arizona State Parks Foundation Director; Claudine Mahoney, Benefactors of Red Rock State Park; and Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter Executive Director.

Clip #3: Bill Roe, former Arizona State Parks Board Member; Charles Adams, University of Arizona; and Charles Eatherly, former Arizona State Parks Deputy Director.

Clip #4: Joni Bosh, former Arizona State Parks Board Member; Cindy Krupika, Friends of Oracle State Park President; Bob Burnside, Camp Verde Mayor; and Chris Strohm, Volunteer Sonoita Creek State Natural Area.

Arizona State Parks Board considers cuts

Reese Woodling, parks board chairman, reacts to news Thursday that some parks would need to close. (Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services)

[Source: Ed Tribble, Channel 12 News] — The latest round of budget cuts earlier this month could close down most state parks. Arizona State Parks Board members met Thursday to look at their options.  State parks are supposed to be tranquil places, somewhere to get away from life’s troubles. But due to budget cuts, the parks themselves are in trouble. “Without these state parks, people will be at a loss on where to go,” says Parks Board Chairman Reese Woodling.

At Thursday’s meeting, board members are making priorities: keep open parks that make money, and ones that don’t cost too much to run.  In mid December, lawmakers raided about $9 million from the park’s coffers. “It’s a horrible situation and sends a terrible message to our kids and future generations that we’re not willing to step up during these tough times,” says Sandy Bahr with the Sierra Club.

No word yet on which parks will close.  But some communities like Lake Havasu City let board members know they would be willing to lease parks so they could stay open. “We believe we could fold those into our existing park system, it’s close to another park, something we believe we could do very easily,” Lake Havasu City Mayor Mark Nexsen says.

In the long term, the parks department would like to add a fee to vehicle registration. Cars with Arizona license plates could get into parks for free.  Out of state visitors would have to pay.   [Note: Read the full article at Arizona State Parks Board considers cuts.]