[Source: Camp Verde Bugle] — The Arizona State Parks Board meets again today to discuss shutting down or providing limited use of several parks. With Parks Director Ken Travous’ latest suggestions for the closure list, there is a sense of machination or at least gamesmanship. There has been enough waving of red flags.
The formula for shifting Red Rock State Park into the top five parks listed for closure (by considering only the percentage of visitors who are Arizona residents) is highly questionable. The Sedona area is what it is — a very popular tourist destination for people all over the world. It naturally follows that RRSP will be pulling in a majority of out-of-state visitors. To wave the threat of closure at Red Rock is a great way to get Sedonans riled up and protesting the stinginess of the state Legislature. It is certainly not responsible. There are eight other state parks on the list that are harder on the State Parks budget than Red Rock is.
The suggested closure of Jerome State Historic Park and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is only a good idea if it is temporary during repair work. If “repair” closure is just a step toward permanent closure, that will only start a firestorm.
At its previous meeting, the State Parks Board had asked Travous to come up with more ideas other than shutting down parks. If simply adding three more to the possible-closures list is all the director’s office came up with, the board needs to look in another direction.
Most residents of Arizona understand the current constraints on the state budget and the likelihood of more deficits and more cutting in the future. State Parks will not avoid this. Completely closing down some parks — especially those that are expensive to run and receive few visitors — is an understandable option if it is done responsibly. Today, we hope the State Parks administration can look through the politicking and red flags and provide ideas of its own.