Yes, the economy is tough, but Arizona State Parks deserve funding and support

[Source: Tucson Weekly, Irene Messina 7-15-2010] – I’m beginning to think Gov. Jan Brewer and the members of the Arizona Legislature were big fans of The Sopranos. They’ve whacked education, social services and even highway rest areas; this legislative family hasn’t been at all hospitable.

Let’s look at the Arizona State Parks system. According to the Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy, since 2003, “the Arizona Legislature and the state’s governors have eroded support for state parks in reducing general-fund appropriations, ‘sweeping’ cash from dedicated funds and forcing the agency to survive on park-produced fees and pieces of indirect user levies, set-asides and federal dollars.” [to read the full article click here].

Documentary airs plight of Arizona’s state park system

Citizens urged to contact legislators and Governor to adequately fund parks. The documentary film, Postcards from the Parks will be shown on the following dates:

Thursday, June 17th at 7:30PM (doors open at 7PM), Orpheum Theater, 15 W Aspen Avenue in Flagstaff (928) 556-1580;

Thursday, July 8th at 7:30PM (doors open at 7pm), Madcap Theaters, 730 S Mill Avenue in Tempe (480) 634-5192; and

Thursday, July 22nd at 7:30PM (doors open at 7pm), Grand Cinemas Crossroads 6, 4811 E Grant ( NE corner of Grant & Swan) in Tucson (520) 327-7067.

After the showing of the film, a community dialogue led by filmmaker Sam Jansen, Arizona Humanities Council Scholar Vincent Murray, and other parks advocates will follow.

Postcards from the Parks was produced by four friends — Susan and Peter Culp, Jocelyn Gibbon and Sam Jansen — to chronicle their experiences visiting Arizona’s 27 state parks.  “In 2009, I was appointed to the Governor’s Sustainable State Parks Task Force,” explains Susan Culp, “and when we began our work, I was surprised to realize how few state parks I had visited.  I wanted to see them all before making any recommendations that could affect their future.” 

What they found — a system in crisis — inspired the four to share the story of Arizona’s state parks with a broader audience.  Over the course of six months, the friends documented the parks’ natural landscapes, recreational amenities, and historical and cultural sites as well as the visible signs of long decades of neglect.  “To be honest, when we started I didn’t know whether each and every state park would strike me as impressive and important,” Jocelyn Gibbon shares. “But each one was really special — and the system as a whole is such a valuable asset for Arizona.”

Through interviews with state leaders, conservation advocates, and parks volunteers as well as relevant research and analysis, Postcards from the Parks highlights the many contributions of the state parks as protectors and preservers of what it means to be an Arizonan. “We hope the movie will be used to generate community action in support of the parks,” says Sam Jansen, adding that the producers have created postcards to accompany the film.  “The hope was that groups could get together, watch the movie, write postcards to state leaders, and then encourage others to do the same.”

After the film’s viewing at these three venues on June 17th in Flagstaff, July 8th in Tempe, and July 22nd in Tucson, a facilitated discussion and question and answer period will be led by Vincent Murray, a historian with Arizona Historical Research, in cooperation with the filmmakers and other parks advocates.  A native Arizonan, Murray spends much of his spare time as a cultural resource advocate, promoting the preservation of the state’s archives, historic buildings, and archaeological sites.

An opportunity for postcard-writing to state leaders will also ensue.

Funding for these events was provided by donations from the Arizona Heritage Alliance, Wells Fargo Bank and the producers of the film. Each film event is free to the public.  Donations to the non-profit, the Arizona Heritage Alliance, as well as to the Postcards from the Parks project for further distribution of the film, will be accepted.

For more information, contact the Arizona Heritage Alliance at, (602) 528-7500 or email

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.