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State Capitol News

State parks to stay open for now

By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – The state Parks Board decided today the 22 remaining parks will
remain open -- at least for the time being.

The Parks Board shut McFarland Park in Florence, Tonto Natural
Bridge Park near Payson and Jerome State Historic Park last month
to cut expenses after the Legislature slahsed the agency's budget
earlier this year. Director Ken Travous told board members those
savings coupled with other maneuvers will keep the books in the
black through June 30. But Travous warned lawmakers may take even
more cash beginning July 1. If that happens, one option would be
further cuts in things like paying law enforcement to patrol
lakes and grants to renovating old buildings. But board member
Larry Landry said that, politically speaking, shutting a park or
two might be a better option.

"I've gotten letters from several state legislators, several who
are on Appropriations, who have voted to take this money away,
yet they want their parks open. And I'm saying you can't have
your cake and eat it, too."

While no new parks will be shut down entirely, Travous said some
-- he hasn't decided which -- likely will be closed two days a
week. He said layoffs to balance the budget have left his agency
without enough rangers to staff them.