Republic: State Parks in need of funding

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Arizona Republic columnist Linda Valdez wrote that recent census figures put Arizona second only to Florida as a destination for today's retirees, and it’s the great outdoors that Baby Boomer retirees crave, but we aren’t taking care of it.

Bullet points reveal a state that doesn't value its open spaces or understand the importance of outdoor recreation to Arizona's future growth.

• The total operating budget for Arizona’s State Parks was $29 million in fiscal 2018, according to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. This is $15 million less than what Arizona State University's Morrison Institute said was needed in 2009 to operate and maintain the state's parks.

• During the recession, Arizona’s GOP-controlled Legislature stripped away $10 million a year in Heritage Fund money that had been dedicated to the parks by a 1990 citizens' initiative. This funding, which came from the Lottery, has not been restored.

"This isn't just about the spiritual, emotional and psychological benefits nature provides... it's about planning for an economically sustainable future," Valdez wrote. "Arizona’s environment is an asset, giving us an edge in attracting Baby Boomer retirees who have money to spend on an outdoor lifestyle."

Valdez concludes by writing, "The Restore Our National Parks and Public Lands Act of 2018 aims to begin spending on deferred maintenance on federal public lands. The price tag in Arizona alone is $531 million, including $330 million in needed maintenance at Grand Canyon National Park. The bill is not moving."

READ: Baby boomers retire here for the hiking, yet Arizona starves its parks. How smart is that?

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