Grand Canyon Quarter Launched In Park Ceremony

[Source: NPS Digest]

On Tuesday, September 21st,  U.S. Mint, National Park Service and State of Arizona officials commemorated the launch of the Grand Canyon quarter, the fourth in the America the Beautiful quarter-dollar series, in a ceremony at the park.

It was a perfect fall day and the event was well attended by park staff, residents and visitors, as well as numerous classes from Grand Canyon schools. The event was held on the South Rim between the Hopi House and new Verkamp’s Visitor Center.

Highlights included Grand Canyon Mounted Patrol presenting the United States and Arizona flags; the seventh grade class leading the Pledge of Allegiance; remarks by Superintendent Steve Martin, U.S. Mint Director Edmund Moy, Arizona State Parks Executive Director Renée Bahl, Arizona Office of Tourism Director Sherry Henry, and writer/author Scott Thybony; performances by the Pollen Trail Dancers; a ceremonial coin pour in to a Navajo basket; and the traditional distribution of free coins to youth and a coin exchange for adults.

“Throughout history, coins have depicted famous people, historical events and important places,” said Martin. “So, we were honored when Grand Canyon National Park was chosen for an America the Beautiful quarter.”

The design for the quarter features the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta near the Colorado River.  Used almost 1000 years ago for the storage of food and seeds, the granaries are among the most iconic archeological sites in the park and serve as a connection between modern day visitors, native peoples who lived in and traveled through the park for thousands of years, and the living tribes that work with the park today to preserve their ancestral heritage.

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Federal Forest Funds go to NM and Arizona Forestry Divisions

[Source: Arizona Capitol Times]

Forests in New Mexico and Arizona will benefit from nearly $7 million in recently awarded federal funds.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Southwestern Region is distributing more than $3.4 million to the New Mexico State Forestry Division and more than $3.5 million to Arizona’s Forestry Division.

The money can be used for a variety of projects aimed at sustaining urban and rural forests and protecting communities from wildfires, insects, diseases and invasive plants.

Regional Forester Corbin Newman says many of the funds for the Southwestern Region are targeted to fire suppression training and updated firefighting equipment.

He says the funding is critical, especially when so many states are having budget problems.

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Now is the time to get involved in State Parks funding debate

[Source: Camp Verde Bugle]

The last state budget debacle over funding for Arizona State Parks caught many unawares and tripping over their own feet to figure out what was going on. The state was already deep into the process of deciding cutbacks and closures before some support groups could organize.

That cannot be the case for the next budget battle – and it is already starting. The time to get involved is now.

Eleventh-hour brain-storming sessions and negotiations can lead to short-term solutions, as evidenced by last budget cycle’s results, but fixing funding problems for the foreseeable future demands more than that.

This time, instead of waiting until February or March or May, those concerned about the sustainability of the State Parks program need to jump in at the start.

The Verde Valley and Sedona have particular interest in this process because five Arizona State Parks are ensconced here. Current funding for three of them are a patchwork of local, county and state monies and volunteers, and that is only temporary.

Jerome has known the frustration of full closure, and Camp Verde and Sedona have felt the cost of keeping a park open. It has been a sweat-inducing exercise, but it has certainly left the communities with a feeling of ownership.

The way the state has provided funding for state parks and used money created by state parks has not been principled, but it has been allowed. It needs to change if parks are to have a future. A governor’s commission is pushing for more privatization of services currently provided by government, and some issues connected to state parks are being eyeballed in that regard.

After the breather afforded by intergovernmental agreements to keep parks open this year, municipalities are already looking again at their relationship to Arizona State Parks. And Thursday, Sept. 30, at the Sedona Library, several groups and elected officials will have a public discussion of proposals and possible solutions to the funding problems.

It is a dilemma that cannot wait again. If the state parks landscape is to be preserved, now is the time to get involved.

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Scottsdale is national leader in land set aside for parks, preserve

[Source: Peter Corbett, The Arizona Republic]

Scottsdale ranks among the nation’s leading cities for parks and preserve land.

The city is fourth in per capita parkland behind Anchorage, Alaska, New Orleans and Virginia Beach, Va., according to a Trust for Public Land report issued earlier this month.

“It’s a very impressive system,” said Peter Harnik, director of the trust’s Center for City Park Excellence, in reference to Scottsdale’s parks and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The non-profit trust, a San Francisco-based conservation group, lists Scottsdale as having 15,172 acres of park and preserve land for its 235,371 residents.

That amounts to 64.5 acres per 1,000 residents, more than triple the per capita median for other low-density cities.

About 13 percent of the land area of Scottsdale is set aside for parks and preserve. The national median for low-density cities is 5.8 percent.

Phoenix’s 1.5 million residents have 43,609 acres of parkland, or 27.8 acres per 1,000 residents, the report said.

Anchorage has a very large state park within its city limits, and New Orleans and Virginia Beach contain national wildlife refuges that skew their parkland totals, Harnik said.

City parkland well-funded

The trust’s annual report compiled statistics on park acreage, spending and staffing based on data from 2008.

“We won’t see the full effects of current budget cuts until next year’s report,” Harnik said.

This year’s report did show that Scottsdale is also among the cities with the best-funded parks systems.

The city’s operating and capital expenditures in fiscal year 2008 are listed at $50.4 million, or $214 per resident. That ranks Scottsdale third behind Washington, D.C., and Seattle.

Excluding capital expenses, Scottsdale’s operating costs of $23.7 million, or $101 per resident, rank it 16th nationally in the report.

Scottsdale ranks 13th in staffing, with 281 non-seasonal employees, or 11.9 per 10,000 residents, more than double the national median of 5.4.

Preserve to add open space

Scottsdale’s preserve accounts for roughly 94 percent of its parklands, and the preserve is expected to add more acreage next month.

City parks total 941 acres with just less half of that planted with grass, said Don Davis, Scottsdale parks and recreation manager.

The Arizona State Parks Board last week authorized up to $25 million in matching funds for Scottsdale to buy 2,000 acres of state trust land at auction on Oct. 15.

The board also approved $20 million in matching funds for Phoenix and $7 million to Coconino County for preserve lands.

The Scottsdale acreage is north of Dixileta Drive near Troon North.