Arizona could be closing additional state parksPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - Will thirteen additional Arizona state parks be forced to close?
That's the way it looks with budget problems eating away at the state park budget.
Actually, this is what's going on...State parks take nothing from the general fund and actually give back to the state budget a big fat $22.7 million in state and local taxes. The state legislature has swept millions from state parks to help balance the budget, leaving them too short to operate the 30 parks in the system.
Three have already closed.
Does this make sense since state parks bring in more than $225 million dollars to the state's economy through the 2.5 million visitors each year.
Because rural areas of the state rely so heavily on the business nearby state parks bring in, some Arizona towns are trying to help keep them open.
Apache Junction Mayor John Insalaco said his town has offered equipment and workers to help patrol the park and keep it clean. They are even going to send those convicted of minor crimes and sentenced to service work to the park to help pick up trash, etc.
Apache Junction gets tourist dollars from many of the 99,000 people who pass through town on their way to the Lost Dutchman State Park. The park is about eight miles out of Apache Junction along the Apache Trail, and with it's 72 campsites and miles of trails, brings in folks from around the world.
Payson, Camp Verde and Yuma are also working with the Arizona State Park's Department in an effort to keep parks just outside their towns open.
Will it be enough to offset the loss of so much money taken by the legislature? It's not likely, but it's all these towns can do as they see these money making treasures on the verge of closing their gates.