Arizona state parks open after hours-long closure

[Source: Arizona Daily Sun, Associated Press] — State parks reopened Wednesday morning after concerns about the lack of a state budget prompted an overnight closure.  A state budget passed early Wednesday averted a government shutdown, even though Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed portions of the multi-bill package.  Parks had been ordered closed on Tuesday afternoon, but the passage ensured they would reopen for the upcoming July 4 holiday.

An estimated 55,000 people are expected to visit the 30 sites within the parks system over the weekend, said State Parks Director Renee Bahl.  Rangers removed signs Wednesday morning that advised visitors of the closure.  “Nobody is happier than we are to welcome guests back into the parks and to get ready for our biggest week of the year,” Bahl said.

The midnight deadline to pass a budget under the state constitution passed Tuesday with little immediate effect to agencies other than parks.  Most state agencies were closed, and Brewer already had told public safety agencies to maintain normal operations.  Fred Solop, chairman of Northern Arizona University’s Department of Politics and International Affairs, said the delay put the state parks system in a difficult situation.  “Clearly the parks felt they had to do something given the big weekend that was coming,” he said.  “It was prudent for them to shut down early. It would be much more difficult to tell people they had to leave a campsite Fourth of July weekend.” [Note: To read the full article: Arizona state parks open after hours-long closure]

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