State parks propose fee hikes

Phoenix, AZ – Budget problems mean some state parks in rural areas could end up
being open fewer hours.

The Parks Board is facing a $1.5 million gap between its
operating budget and the money it has to spend. The result is
that up to 30 workers -- close to one out of every 10 -- are
going to have to be let go.

Oracle State Park will be closed to
general public use. And plans under discussion include having
Slide Rock open only five days a week from November through
January. Homolovi Ruins also will go on a five-day-a-week
schedule and close its campgrounds entirely.

But that won't be
enough to balance the budget. Board spokeswoman Ellen Bilbrey
said higher fees also are likely.

"Part of the budget problem is that some of the parks are not
bringing enough fees in to that park to operate that park. Now,
understand, the state parks are not supposed to be making money,
But we'd like to see if they could break even."

The proposal being considered would hike admission fees at Alamo
Lake, Homolovi Ruins, Lost Dutchman, Lyman Lake and Roper Lake
state parks by 60 percent, from $5 to $8. And at Slide Rock, one
of the more popular sites, entrance would double, to $20 during
the peak use period from the Friday before Memorial Day through
Labor Day.

Other proposed changes would eliminate seasonal
reduced rates at some parks, hike the fees for those who arrive
on bicycle or foot and charge more for overnight camping.