View Full Version : Budget cuts hit ghosttowning...

02-19-2009, 01:06 PM
Bad news for some of us in Arizona. We in the southern part of the state will surely miss easy access to the presidio of Tubac. Tubac is the oldest town in Arizona, had a newspaper & the most educated men in the territory; best Brandy, finest cigars & civilized conversation. Tubac was a center of culture & refinement, (as much as could be found) when Tucson was "a city of mud boxes, dingy & dilapidated, cracked & baked into a composite of dust & filth; littered about with broken corrals, sheds, bake-ovens, carcasses of dead animals & broken pottery; barren of verdure, parched, naked, & grimly desolate in the glare of a southern sun."-J Ross Browne, Adventures in the Apache Country, 1864. Illustrations by Browne.

H e l l, I'd rather they closed Tucson.


PHOENIX – Three more state parks are being considered for closure because of state budget cuts, bringing to 11 the number that could be shuttered in coming weeks or months.
Parks Director Ken Travous said Wednesday he is adding the three parks to a list of eight others previously identified as being considered for closure to help close a midyear budget shortfall.
Travous identified the three as Red Rock State Park in Sedona, Jerome State Historic Park in Jerome and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park near Payson.
The state Parks Board will meet Friday in Peoria to consider cost-cutting measures that include park closures, seasonal closures and reduced hours of operations. Other options include furloughs and layoffs.
Jerome State Historic Park centers on the Douglas Mansion, a landmark built in the former mining community that overlooks the Verde Valley. Red Rock State Park, originally part of a ranch, is a 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center. Tonto Bridge is a natural geological feature in a valley in pine country below the Mogollon Rim.
Parks previously identified as being considered for closure were: Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde, Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, Lyman Lake State Park in Springerville, McFarland State Historic Park in Florence, Oracle State Park in Oracle, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park in Tubac and Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.

02-19-2009, 04:44 PM
Bummer! Maybe they could close down one of Phoenix's freeways and save even more instead.

02-20-2009, 12:58 PM
We're having the same issues here too, though no park closures are on the table, yet. They are combining regions and letting staff go in our parks, which means even less protection than we already have now.

Some day, the elected idiots will realize in times of economic stress, people actually go on trips to their under funded, under staffed state parks to save money and get away for a spell.

02-20-2009, 07:23 PM
A bit of a breathing spell, but not by much. The ropes are still around the necks.

PEORIA Saying they really have no choice, the state Parks Board voted Friday to shut down three sites to save money but give outsiders the chance to save two others from closure.
The move shutters McFarland State Historic Park in Florence, Tonto Natural Bridge Sate Park near Payson and Jerome State Historic Park in Jerome.
Board members selected the first because it already is closed because the building is in disrepair. The other two also need work.
But Friday's move delays -- and maybe prevents -- closure of Oracle State Park north of Tucson and Homolovi Ruins State Park near Winslow. Parks Director Ken Travous had included those, too, on his list of parks for immediate closure as part of the effort to deal with the cuts in the agency's budget imposed by lawmakers at the end of last month.
Instead, the board said it will consider proposals, one the Friends of Oracle State Park and the other by the Hopi tribe, to raise money to keep them operating.
Even if they are successful -- and Travous said he doubts they can raise enough -- that does not mean the remaining 22 parks in the system are out of danger.
Travous said the savings from the first round of cuts are not enough to balance the budget, even with suspending grants made to cities, counties and private groups and cutting the funding the agency now gives to law enforcement agencies to patrol the lakes in state parks.
He said the board will most likely have to shut at least three more parks when it meets again, possibly within weeks. His recommendations are the Quartermaster Depot in Yuma and the Tubac Presidio and Fort Verde state parks.
Travous said the state is not abandoning any parks. But he said any that are closed will not be reopened until the financial crunch caused by legislative budget cuts passes, something he said could happen in two months -- or two years.
Board member Arlan Colton was the lone dissent to Friday's vote, saying the savings from the closures approved won't be enough to balance this year's budget. More to the point, Colton said he fears lawmakers, facing a potential $2.4 billion deficit next fiscal year, will slash even more from the Parks Department.
"I think we're postponing potentially the inevitable because we don't want to, and it feels better,'' he said. Colton said delays will only make matters worse.
Bill Scalzo said the board had to start somewhere. But he echoed Colton's fears, telling those who came to Friday's meeting this isn't the end.
"Don't leave here today thinking we're not going to close more parks,'' he said. "We probably will, unless you help get some things done.''
One thing board members want those interested to do is lobby lawmakers to support HB 2088. That measure would divert $20 million out of a special fund set up to buy or lease land in urban areas to preserve open space and instead give it to various state agencies which deal with conservation-related issues to help make up for the budget cuts.
Travous figures the Parks Department share would be $13 million. That not only makes up for the $4.8 million taken this fiscal year out of the operating budget but either provides a cushion for next year or allows the agency to restore some of the funds for other programs, like the money for law enforcement on lakes.
The problem is that the $20 million a year requirement was approved by voters in 1998. And that means it will take a three-fourths vote of the Legislature to divert the funds.
Getting that could prove difficult, what with the Sierra Club opposed. Lobbyist Sandy Bahr said what's needed is a permanent funding solution, possibly a fee on all license plates that lets Arizonans visit all parks for free.
The measure was approved by the House Government Committee. But the 6-3 vote there suggests there might not be that three-quarters margin when it reaches the floor.
Friday's vote still leaves open the question of the future of the two other parks that Travous had asked the board to close.
Cindy Krupicka, a member of the Friends of Oracle State Park, said she understands the financial crunch. She said, though, her organization has $40,000 in the bank that it would be willing to provide -- assuming the board keeps the park open.
"It's rich in historical ranching history,'' she told board members.
"The park also is rich in geology, vegetation, wildlife habit,'' Krupicka continued. "It's an environmental education place for young and old.''
Travous said while he's willing to listen, that $40,000 is nowhere near enough. He had put Oracle on the list for closure because, with fewer than 10,000 visitors a year, the operating costs result in the loss of close to $250,000 annually.
Susan Secakuku, a member of the Hopi tribe and project manager of the Homolovi Park Project, said the tribe already has invested close to $200,000 during the last six year for improvements to that facility. She said the tribe would be willing to look at ways to keep the park with its 14th century Anasazi ruins open.
But Travous said this facility loses about $200,000 a year.


02-21-2009, 05:47 AM
Geez, we were going to take in the Jerome park on our next visit up that way. Looks like it might be shuttered for awhile...

02-21-2009, 06:58 PM
Geez, we were going to take in the Jerome park on our next visit up that way. Looks like it might be shuttered for awhile...

If you haven't been to Jerome it's still worth a spin even without the park. You can easily kill a day in town & the surrounding area has lots of cool history, Indian & American.


Norman Johnson
02-24-2009, 04:59 PM
Don't get me started on the California State Park situation. We were 42 billion short on our budget. (And I donate to the State Park fund.)

In general, I have noticed that the park system at all goverment levels tends to spend the money on infrastructure, not salary.

One example: The BLM in California north of Barstow at Owl Canyon has a small campground associated with Rainbow Basin National Natural Landmark. I camp there often. It seemed to work great --except for a lack of ranger and therefore annoying violations of gun law, littering, partying, and off-road riding on a geologic region, unique in natural features.

In the last year the BLM has employed crews to rip out all the old railroad ties buried to define the roads and campsites, replaced all the outhouses with the exact same outhouses, added a new picnic table almost exactly like the old picnic table, torn down the old remadas and rebuilt with new --the same, and fixed the water system by replacing the old tank with a new tank and a fence to hide it. I'm guessing a million bucks in new stuff exactly like the old stuff.

Except the new stuff does not have railroad ties constraining the vehicles. Last weekend everybody parked where they wanted, backed out over the creosote bushes, mashed the sagebrush, the desert plants and surfaces, the mouse holes and kangeroo rat burrows.

I would think a formula for spending that kept all the old infrastructure and hired a ranger with a pension and healthcare for about fifteen years would make more sense. Spend on people not stuff---especially if it is just to replace old stuff with the same new stuff.

On a milder note, I did discover a new species of Arachnid, a harvestman (spider-looking but one-part body not two part, two eyes not eight, no fangs or poison, no web making) and my dog had fun hiking around with me.

The bad part of that formula is all those cars parking where this very rare, now newly discovered species lives.


02-24-2009, 06:09 PM
Cool! It's always a shame how a few folks have got to go to the wild just to destroy it.

06-25-2009, 05:36 PM
Norman, . .

"new species of Arachnid, a harvestman (spider-looking but one-part body not two part, two eyes not eight, no fangs or poison, no web making)"

I've seen one of them. Only once. A very interesting and apparently rare little creature. :)

07-26-2009, 02:04 PM
Whatever happened to Tread Lightly???? I only stick to established trails; anything else just seems ridiculous to me for motorized vehicles.

Not to mention more broken parts, greater potential for getting stuck, giving more ammunition for the radicals, etc...

Norman Johnson
07-26-2009, 02:32 PM
Whatever happened to Tread Lightly???? I only stick to established trails; anything else just seems ridiculous to me for motorized vehicles.

Not to mention more broken parts, greater potential for getting stuck, giving more ammunition for the radicals, etc...

We all should tread lightly on the whole planet but especially the wild lands. Fortunately, this little harvestman is fairly common over a wide area at just the right time of year.

It turns out that the little guys I thought were immature of another new species from up at the ghost town of Reilly, were actually just the guys from Owl Canyon.

In April I turned over all of my photo's specimens and notes to the Museum and its top expert on this genus at Texas Tech. Now I can go back to ghost-townining and let the discovering new species stuff alone for a while.