Starving our state parks hurts economy

[Source: Kathleen Ingley, Arizona Republic] – Lawmakers talk big about creating jobs and getting agencies to be entrepreneurial. So, why are they wrecking Arizona State Parks? The parks already get no money from the general fund. Now, legislators are sweeping up revenue that parks generate on their own. No business could survive these raids on its cash register. And how dumb is it for a tourist state to starve parks instead of promoting them?

Gala funds Mission San Xavier

[Source: Loni Nannini Special To The Arizona Daily Star ]– One evening a year, the Silver & Turquoise Board of Hostesses brings back the good old days with a gala that benefits one of the Southwest’s most significant historic treasures: Mission San Xavier del Bac.

“There are no speakers, raffles or silent auctions,” said Chris Wangensteen-Eklund, chairwoman of the 61st Annual Silver & Turquoise Ball April 30. “It is just an evening to relax on the beautiful grounds of the Arizona Inn, enjoy drinks and an amazing dinner and dance to two live bands, then end the night in the fabulous Audubon Bar for a cabaret show.

“There is no pressure of bidding or buying raffle tickets or ‘Did I win?’ – it’s just this fabulous party to give back to what we call the ‘White Dove of the Desert’ or the ‘Sistine Chapel of North America’: Our beloved Mission San Xavier.” Wangensteen-Eklund said she is gratified to be coordinating one of the most historic black-tie events in the state and possibly the Southwest, second only to the Board of Visitors Charity Ball in Phoenix [to read the ful article click here].

Arizona State senate budget proposal would transfer millions away from state parks

[Source:, Mike Pelton] – State parks across Arizona could face a financial nightmare if a senate budget proposal passes, members of the state parks board said Wednesday. The Arizona Senate passed a budget proposal for next year and, in an attempt to balance the budget, proposed transferring money from state parks to the general fund.

“State parks is not only an enterprise agency but an economic engine,” said Tracey Westerhausen, chairman of the state parks board. Westerhausen said the senate’s budget proposal would transfer more than $3 million that state parks generate from the public, and transfer it to the general fund for other uses. “It’s hard for us to run like a business when the money we generate would be taken away,” she said. Westerhausen cited the importance of state parks for the economy. Parks often draw tourists out to rural areas around the state, bringing money with them.

“The Lost Dutchman state park is very important, not just to this business but the entire community,” said Mark LeReshe, who owns Superstition Harley Davidson in Apache Junction, just miles from the Lost Dutchman park.

ABC15 contacted members of the state senate, who refused to comment on the issue. State parks is only one area the senate budget proposal suggests gathering additional funds from. Other industries would be affected as well, such as the department of health services. Business owners, such as LeReshe, said they will continue to help keep the parks open as best they can. LeReshe has helped raise thousands of dollars for Lost Dutchman. “We’re going to fight,” he said. “We’re going to fight to keep that park open.”

The state parks have faced financial trouble in recent years. Currently, 28 of the state’s 30 state parks are open. The senate’s budget proposal still has to go through the House, where it could face changes, before it heads to Governor Brewer’s desk.

Free trail map will help you find wildlife in the Pinetop-Lakeside area

[Source:] – With the weather getting warmer, it may be a good time to plan a family outing to hike and enjoy wildlife viewing in the ponderosa pine country of the White Mountains.

The Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, with assistance from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, recently developed a new trail guide called the “Pinetop-Lakeside Wildlife Viewing Guide” to help you map out a fun trip to enjoy nature and wildlife in eastern Arizona. It comes complete with a local hiking trail map and descriptions of several prime areas in and around the town where you can see a variety of animals.

“The guide will help people to streamline wildlife-viewing trips in the Pinetop-Lakeside area,” says Bruce Sitko, spokesman at the department’s Pinetop office. “Families and friends will be able to plan out which types of wildlife and which areas they want to see and how to most quickly and effectively get from one to another.”[to read the full article click here].