Arizona privatization report not done yet


Governor Jan Brewer’s Commission on Privatization will miss its deadline to recommend what the state should do to cut its budget.

The Governor hoped for a final report by December 31st. But a spokesman says the report isn’t done.

One of the options the commission is investigating is the idea to privatize state parks.

Visitors at Catalina State Park have mixed opinions.

Jim Clarke is a regular at Catalina State Park. He says he hiked here before it was a park.

“I think this park works very well the way it is,” Clarke says. “The old cliché {says} if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Clarke opposes privatization. He says, “I don’t like it, mainly because privatizing to me means for profit.”

Canadian Roy Moor camps at Catalina State Park every winter. He also stays at private campgrounds.

Moor says, “Private parks tend to offer more amenities and tend to be more expensive. State parks offer an opportunity to really experience nature.”

Faced with a big budget deficit, Governor Brewer created the state cost cutting committee called COPE, the Commission on Privatization and Efficiency. Its initial report discussed privatizing state parks.

Park users like Chris Hanson are we’re still waiting to see what the final report says. He says, “I’m not against it conceptually. It would depend completely upon the details of it, how they’re going to actually run the park, what it would entail, what would be privatized, how it would affect the use.”

Commission Chairman Mark Brnovich says the group is looking at questions including, “Is there a better way to fund the parks and is there a better way to make sure the parks are kept open and providing the public the maximum amount of services possible.”

Digging deeper, already many Arizona parks have public-private partnerships.

Arizona State Parks have 30 properties. But only nine of them are fully operated and staffed by parks staff. Nine others are operated by parks staff with support from a nonprofit or local government. Others have been totally turned over to local governments or nonprofits. Others have been closed.


How to Save a Park

[Source: Bestsy Bruner,]


Events this year have stood testament to how much our mountain town still loves its history and culture, and the arts that arise from these inspirations.

January began with heartfelt efforts to save Riordan Mansion State Historic Park (RMSHP) from possible closure because of shortfalls in the state budget. Riordan was to be in the first in a phased series of closures mandated Jan. 15 by the Arizona State Parks Board.

The community was united in a desire to save the mansion and park from closure because of its importance as the home of the prominent Riordan family, its unique American Arts and Crafts design, and its place as the only house in the nation where the Gustav Stickley furniture is original to the home.

Above all, the mansion serves as a reminder of Flagstaff’s humble days and future ambition, symbolized by the brothers Tim and Michael Riordan, who arrived here from Chicago in the mid-1800s. They married, and with their wives and children, made their two adjoining homes alive with the spirit and warmth of the arts and culture.

The grassroots Riordan Action network (RAN), began by volunteers at the mansion, stepped in to lead the battle to raise funds and other support to keep the doors open on this special window into history.

It worked.

Today, RAN has collected more than $55,000 in donations and fundraising events to help fund the running of the park, especially in the slower visitation winter months when more money will need to be spent to run the park than is coming in from park fees and gift shop sales.

A March vote by the Arizona State Parks Board delayed the closing of the park and laid the groundwork for an agreement between Arizona State Parks and the Arizona Historical Society to allow AHS to operation the mansion and park for three years, with the ability to continue for two more three-year terms.

In the fall, the Flagstaff Community Foundation awarded a grant to assist with the funding of RMSHP educational programs for local school youth.

With staff reductions and a reduction in hours open, Riordan never really closed and continues to welcome visitors each week Thursday through Monday.

“I would add an observation about the precariousness of local history as we go forward,” commented Leslie Roe, director of Pioneer History Museum, and now, Riordan Mansion. “Both Riordan and Pioneer museum came very close to closing in 2010. It was largely through incredible effort and sacrifice of local volunteers and staff that they both remain open.”


Betsey Bruner can be reached at or 556-2255.

Daily Courier’s Top Stories of 2010—No. 5: The Economy, from closed parks to unemployment

Arizona State Parks/Courtesy photoJerome State Historic Park had closed in 2009 because of state budget cuts and the need for major repairs. It did reopen, however, on Oct. 14, 2010.
Arizona State Parks/Courtesy photo

[Source: Joanna Dodder NellansPrescott Daily Courier]

After the Arizona Legislature swept $8.6 million from its State Parks to help prop up its ailing general fund, the State Parks Board decided in January it had no choice but to close 13 more of its 27 parks.

Four state parks had already closed in 2009, including Jerome State Historic Park, home to a mining museum in the 100-year-old Douglas mansion, during mansion renovations.

The Parks Board voted to close Red Rocks State Park near Sedona on June 3. It is a 286-acre nature preserve along Oak Creek. It was $202,000 in the red last year.

The board decided not to close parks that make money, including the 423-acre Dead Horse State Park along the Verde River in Cottonwood. It was $19,000 in the black last year.

The board also decided in January that the neighboring 480-acre Verde River Greenway State Natural Area would remain open, too, but State Parks officials decided to manage it “passively,” without patrols or improvements, said Renee Bahl, Arizona State Parks executive director.

The Parks Board gave at least one state park in Yavapai County, Fort Verde, a temporary reprieve.

By Feb. 22, two more parks had closed.

Throughout the remainder of 2010, local communities and counties including Yavapai negotiated with the state to keep some of the parks open and reopen others.

A last-ditch effort by Rep. Andy Tobin of Paulden to find more state money for the parks didn’t work. Toward the end of the Legislature’s 2010 session in April, Tobin tried to use money from the state’s “Growing Smarter” fund for the parks. Democrats killed the measure, saying it would have allowed use of voter-approved money for a purpose unrelated to the purchase of open space.

Later that month, the state’s iconic Arizona Highways Magazine launched an effort to help the parks by donating $5 of every new annual $24 subscription to the parks.

In all, the Arizona Legislature cut state park money from $28 million a few years ago to $18 million.

State Parks officials say their parks pump $266 million into rural Arizona economies by attracting 2.3 million visitors annually and producing 3,000 leisure jobs.

That includes $36.6 million for Yavapai County’s economy and 494 jobs here, according to a State Parks study.

By May, the Arizona State Parks board already had cut enough deals with local communities and supporters to keep all but five of the parks from being closed.

A Yavapai County coalition won the governor’s Innovation in Economic Development award in October for finding a way to keep the Fort Verde and Red Rock state parks open and to re-open Jerome’s. The county joined forces with local municipalities, historical societies and support groups.

All five of the state parks in Yavapai County are located in the Verde Valley and Sedona regions, so Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis of Cottonwood was instrumental in those parks negotiations.

Apache and Santa Cruz were the first counties to offer deals to keep their parks open. Apache offered money to keep Lyman Lake open, and Santa Cruz offered to operate the park that is home to the historic Tubac Presidio, for example.

Payson and other local supporters joined monetary forces to keep Tonto Natural Bridge from closing in September.

One Indian tribe, the Hopi, also got involved after the state closed Homolovi Ruins State Park, home to Hopi ancestors. The tribe, one of the few in Arizona without a casino, initially provided $175,000 for the park in October.

The state bought Homolovi in 1993 to stop looting of its ancient pueblos.

“Hopi became worried that once again, the pot hunters could start desecrating our ancient homelands,” said Cedric Kuwaninvaya, a Hopi council member.

Kelly Alvidrez: Arizona Sate Park Youth Ambassador

[Source: America’s State Parks]

Kelly Alvidrez






I am one of the few, it seems, that was able to grow up in the outdoors. I went on my first camping trip at age 6 months and have been tramping through the woods ever since.

When I was a kid you could find me building an igloo in the back yard, rebuilding my tree fort in the summer or investigating the creek that ran through the woods.

Now, as an adult I still have a passion for camping, hiking, and tramping through the woods. I love being outside! I love climbing a peak even more! With sunshine on my face and a pack on my back I feel unstoppable.

I Am A State Park Ambassador Because:

Being an Ambassador for Arizona State Parks is a great opportunity for me to share my love of the outdoors, and knowledge of conservation.

If I am able to inspire just one youth to go out and experience the beauty and wildness of nature, mission accomplished. But with that in mind, it is just as important for me to teach environmental education and interpretation, so these same youth will also know how to respect nature.

Schools Attended:

University of California, Santa Cruz and Arizona State University

First State Park:

Not sure, I would have been pretty young and don’t remember

Favorite State Park:

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, California or any park on the ocean

Park I Am Dying To Visit:

Red Rock State Park, Arizona

I’ve Visited State Parks In:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Coolest Thing I’ve Seen In Parks:

The coolest thing I have seen lately would have to be in Catalina State Park. The way the sun was setting across from the Catalina Mountains gave this glow; it was magical!


Discovering new places, adventuring, road trips, going to the beach, and good coffee

Music Played At My Campfire:

Jack Johnson

What Not To Miss In My State’s Parks:

The small creatures. There are so many big rocks and cliffs and mountains. Look for the small things

Who I Would Go On A Hike With If I Could:

John Steinbeck or Theodore Roosevelt

This Sums It All Up For Me:

“Smell the sea and feel the sky, Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic…” ~Van Morrison