by John de Dios
Written by Marissa Hopkins/El Independiente
Following the closure of state parks that started Feb. 22, some Arizona communities are stepping in to keep their parks open.
The Arizona State Parks Board voted March 18 to allow four state parks to enter into management agreements with outside groups, said Ellen Bilbrey, public information officer.
Management agreements are pending for the town of Camp Verde to keep Fort Verde State Historic Park open for one year, and the city of Yuma has proposed to manage Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park for three years.
Also, the city of Tombstone would keep Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park running for three years.
The fourth, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, would be kept open for three years by the Arizona Historical Society, Bilbrey said.
It has already been approved that the town of Payson will lend financial assistance to keep Tonto Natural Bridge State Park open until Sept. 27.
Also, pending approval, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will financially assist to keep Roper Lake State Park open until June 3, Bilbrey said.
Three parks already closed due to previous budget cuts will remain closed—McFarland State Historic Park, Jerome State Historic Park and San Rafael Ranch State Park.
The closures were approved by the Arizona State Parks Board in January following budget cuts of $8.6 million, Bilbrey said.
It is important for these communities to keep the parks open because of the revenue it brings to their local economies, Bilbrey said.
Further, the state parks hold cultural importance, such as the Tombstone Courthouse, said Tombstone Mayor Dusty Escapule.
“It is one of the oldest courthouses in the state of Arizona and it’s got thousands of artifacts that residents should be able to visit,” Escapule said.
UA journalism senior Marissa Hopkins is a reporter for El Independiente, the bilingual newspaper that covers South Tucson, Ariz. Margaret Zanger is a UA associate professor of practice at the School of Journalism and is the adviser of the newspaper. For more stories visit Elindenews.com