State Capitol News
3:31 am
Sat January 31, 2009

State Parks threatened by budget cuts

Phoenix, AZ – The director of the state parks system said today he will have to
close parks if lawmakers adopt the budget they are considering.

The budget proposal calls for cutting nearly $4.9 million out of the
approximately $28 million the agency gets in state funds. Parks
Director Ken Travous said he already has laid off all the
seasonal help. And he hasn't filled any central office vacancies
in more than a year. But Travous said that won't be enough. He is
craftting a plan that shutters five parks immediately and
possibly three more if lawmakers continue to slash funds. He
won't say which ones just yet as staffers haven't been notified.
But he said there is a method to decide which ones will stay open
and which will not.

(We're being real cold-blooded about it. We're going backwards.
The parks that cost the most per visitor to run and backing out
that number to see how much you save. And we're not talking about
partial closures. We're talking about closing them down and
locking the door and walking away.)

Based on that scenario, the parks that make money like Kartchner
Caverns and Lake Havasu are safe. But the last time the state ran
into a crunch the first parks to be shuttered were Catalina, Lost
Dutchman, McFarland, Oracle, Picacho, Roper Lake and Tubac. An
aide to Gov. Jan Brewer said she was aware of the possibility but
waiting to see a final budget before commenting.