Help save Arizona State Parks. Contact your legislators NOW!

Arizona’s State Parks — natural areas, historic places, archaeological sites, cultural resources, and much more — are in trouble.  Parks funding from the Arizona State Legislature has decreased significantly over the last eight years, and a number of parks are closing.  To protect our parks for future generations, legislators should do two things:

FIRST, they should restore the enhancement fund (parks fee dollars we all pay) and the Heritage Fund so State Parks can continue to operate in the short term.

SECOND, they should support HCR2040, which refers to the ballot a measure to allow free day use of our parks for a fee on vehicle registrations.  The vote is scheduled for 2 p.m., Thursday, February 25!

While you’re certainly welcome to show up in person, YOU CAN CLICK HERE NOW to send a message to your legislators asking them to vote YES on HCR2040.

If passed by the Legislature, this measure will be referred to the ballot.  If Arizona’s voters approve, the fees will be voter protected, meaning that the Legislature could not divert them for other purposes.  This is a crucial step toward saving our state park system!

Thank you for your support of our state parks and Arizona’s heritage!

Arizona Heritage Alliance Board of Directors (and 175 other organizations listed here)

Lake Havasu City proposes taking over popular state park

[Mohave Daily News, Christine Harvey, Cronkite News Service, 2-16-2010] — With Arizona State Parks facing an uncertain future due to budget cuts, Lake Havasu City is proposing taking over operations of a popular facility there.  Unlike some other communities that have partnered to keep state parks open, however, Lake Havasu City wants a long-term lease to operate Lake Havasu State Park, home of the community’s busiest and largest boating ramp.

“Help us help you,” Mayor Mark Nexsen told the House Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee on Monday.  “The state cannot afford to keep our park open, and we cannot afford to have it close.”  In response to budget cuts, the Arizona State Parks Board plans to close 13 parks around the state while keeping nine open.  For now, Lake Havasu State Park is slated to remain open.

Rep. Doris Goodale, R-Kingman, who is sponsoring a bill to make the lease possible, said that could change. Her bill, HB 2786, would require Arizona State Parks Board to enter into a 25-year lease with Lake Havasu City, with the community paying the state $50,000 per year.  With Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford, the committee’s chairman, not in attendance, the panel put off voting on the proposal until next week.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Record 40,499 sandhill cranes counted in southern Arizona

[Source: Outdoor News, 2-13-2010] — The Sulphur Springs Valley in Arizona attracted a record 40,499 wintering sandhill cranes, providing an unparalleled wildlife watching opportunity in southern Arizona this year, say Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.  “In 2008 this agriculturally-rich valley in southern Arizona drew a record 36,708 sandhill cranes.  This year circumstances and conditions conspired for this 80-mile-long valley to attract thousands more of these magnificent large birds,” said Mike Rabe, the department’s migratory game bird program manager.

Sandhill cranes are some of the largest birds in North America and have a wingspan of six to eight feet across, allowing them to fly and soar up to 100 miles in a single day in their quest for food.  Huge V-shaped flights of sandhill cranes plying the skies provide a thrilling sight for wildlife viewers.  When standing on the ground, adult sandhills can reach six feet tall.  “Experiencing the morning sandhill crane launch at the department’s two wildlife areas, especially Whitewater Draw, is truly spectacular.  Witnessing the cranes return to roost at these wildlife areas can be equally spectacular, especially during one of Arizona’s brilliant sunsets,” Rabe said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]