Local Opinion: A sensible way to take are of our Parks

William Thornton Special to the Arizona Daily Star – March 14, 2024

As a resident of Southern Arizona, I am speaking up to emphasize the importance of supporting Senate Concurrent Resolution 1038**, which aims to place an initiative on the November 2024 ballot to restore full funding for the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund. This initiative would allocate $10 million annually from the Arizona Lottery to support our local, regional, and state parks, historic preservation, non-motorized trails and outdoor education.

Our fondest childhood memories often involve neighborhood parks and exploring Arizona’s natural wonders. These outdoor spaces not only offer recreational opportunities but also serve as economic engines for host communities. Park visitors buy gas and groceries, they dine in local restaurants and stay overnight in local motels/hotels.

A study commissioned by the city of Show Low revealed that each camper at nearby Fool Hollow State Park contributed on average $100 per day to the city’s economy.

More than three decades ago, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved the creation of the State Parks Heritage Fund, recognizing the need to safeguard our state’s natural and historic heritage. But in recent years funding has been inconsistent. Due to budget shortfalls, Parks Heritage Funds have been “swept” into the general fund, hindering our ability to adequately maintain and enhance our parks and historic sites.

Past legislative efforts have made strides toward restoring funding to the State Parks Heritage Fund, but it is clear that a sustainable long-term solution is needed. By placing SCR 1038 on the ballot voters will have the opportunity to ensure a dedicated funding source for our parks, trails, historic and cultural sites for years to come.

With the 2024 legislative session underway and the Arizona Lottery encumbrances resolved, it is imperative that we take decisive action to reinstate full funding for our state parks through a ballot initiative. The Arizona Heritage Alliance, along with numerous environmental and conservation-oriented organizations as well as concerned citizens are advocating for this comprehensive approach to ensure the long-term sustainability of our parks and cultural resources.

As we confront challenges such as urban sprawl and wildfires that threaten our open spaces and historic sites, investing in our State Parks Heritage Fund is not just a matter of preserving the past but also safeguarding our future. We urge fellow Arizonans to support SCR 1038 and vote in favor of reinstating funding for the State Parks Heritage Fund in the upcoming November 2024 election. Let us reaffirm our commitment to preserving Arizona’s natural beauty and cultural legacy for generations to come.

Parks Heritage Funds are not an expense; they are an investment that provides affordable outdoor recreational opportunities for Arizonans and visitors to our state.

William Thornton is a second-generation Arizona native, lifelong conservationist and outdoor enthusiast.

**Update on SCR1038 – Unfortunately on 3/7/2024 the Senate failed to pass SCR1038 (15-13-2). The  Arizona Heritage Alliance is regrouping and will continue to work towards restoring the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund back in the Lottery.

Restore Full Funding for the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund in 2023!

Arizona’s local, regional, and state parks and recreation facilities are economic development generators that encourage the spending of tourist dollars, attract businesses whose workforce choose jobs in locations with quality of life benefits, strengthen community cohesion, and increase property values. Historic preservation initiatives in our rural communities and urban areas promote economic development by creating jobs, revitalizing historic areas, increasing property values, and promoting heritage tourism.

The Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund served Arizona well from 1991 to 2008 and again, starting in 2021, with its support for parks, historic preservation, non-motorized trails, and outdoor and environmental education. It is the goal of the Arizona Heritage Alliance to encourage state officials to restore full funding for the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund in 2023. During the fiscal year 2021 and 2022 grant cycles, the demand has exceeded expectations, so full funding is essential.

Help us achieve our goal!

* CHICK HERE  to add your name to the list of Arizonans who care deeply about our state’s natural, cultural, and historic resources and encourage full funding for the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund through its original funding source, the Arizona Lottery.

* CONTACT your newly-elected legislators asking them to support the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund in the next legislative session. Since the election results are still coming in (as of 11-13-22), contact information for new legislators has yet to be finalized. To find your legislator, visit: https://www.azleg.gov/findmylegislator/

* FOLLOW the Alliance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/azheritage

* INVITE the Alliance to make a presentation at an organization you represent. Drop us a note at mail@azheritage.org 

With graditude, thank you for your continuing support.

Arizona Heritage Alliance Board of Directors

Arizona Preservation Foundation Award

The Arizona Preservation Foundation is honored to receive the 2022 John H. Chafee Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. APF has been a long-standing partner of the Arizona Heritage Alliance and we are mentioned in the following video.  On YouTube, the AZ segment starts at the 7 min. mark: https://buff.ly/3NDOCap

New “Arizona Adventure” Lottery Ticket and Promotion”

Arizona Lottery Press Release – August 2, 2022

The Arizona Lottery and Arizona State Parks are excited to announce a partnership aimed at encouraging all Arizonans, and Lottery players in particular, to get out and visit a variety of our state’s amazing state parks through a new Arizona Adventure Scratchers® ticket and adventure-based promotion.

Arizona Adventure celebrates our great state by combining a unique lottery ticket set against a backdrop of three iconic landscapes, a geo-located adventure experience at 12 Arizona state parks, and the chance to win a share of $1 million in cash and Arizona travel prizes.

“We’re bringing a sense of adventure to our players, offering more chances to win and explore the beauty of our great state, ” said Gregg Edgar, Arizona Lottery Executive Director. “Coming out of the pandemic, it’s clear that Arizonans are looking for fun ways to connect with family and friends and, with Arizona Adventure, we’re offering a chance to get out, explore and win big this year!”

Players can go to the Arizona Adventure website, www.AZAdventure.com, to learn about the various “adventures” at 12 different Arizona state parks, get directions, and then embark on their self-guided adventure. Once a player reaches the coordinates of the park destination of their choice, they can “Check-In” on the Arizona Adventure website to receive ten entries into Arizona Lottery promotional drawings for cash and travel prizes.

For those who want to adventure closer to home, players can purchase the limited-time-only, Arizona Adventure Scratchers ticket at 3,000+ Arizona Lottery retailers across the state. This new $5 ticket gives players an opportunity to win a $50,000 top prize, plus each Arizona Adventure ticket entered into the promotion will receive five entries for a chance at the grand prize of $200,000 and an Arizona travel package. Players can also enter other eligible $5 Scratchers and Fast Play tickets for a single entry into the promotion.

“We are so excited to partner with the Arizona Lottery on the Arizona Adventure tickets,” said Bob Broscheid, executive director of Arizona State Parks and Trails. “You can plan your next adventure in one of Arizona’s state parks, and then enter to win even more prizes. It’s a great reward on top of an already amazing outdoor experience.”

You can learn more about Arizona Adventure, participating Arizona state parks, eligible games, and the exciting cash and experiential prizes available to players at www.AZAdventure.com.

About Arizona State Parks
For information about the more than 30 Arizona state parks and natural areas, the trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Program and State Historic Preservation Office, call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit www.AZStateParks.com.