Families hoping to cut vacation costs by taking their kids camping in Arizona may soon not have the option.
Arizona's 31 state parks are in "imminent danger" of closure and "irreparable damage" unless the state can find $200 million -- fast.
This according to writers of the report "The Price of Stewardship: The Future of Arizona State Parks," who held a press conference at Arizona State University yesterday.
Their report -- prepared collaboratively by the ASU's Morrison Institute for the parks system and the Arizona State Parks Foundation -- says the parks urgently require $200 million worth of delayed maintenance and improvements.
"There are walls collapsing. There are sewage systems in the parks that are not compliant with legal requirements. Those kind of things are not being taken care of," said Grady Gammage Jr., senior research fellow at the Morrison Institute and member of the Governor's Sustainable State Parks Task Force, in a press release.
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Some parks -- including Jerome, McFarland, Oracle and San Rafael -- already have been closed. Others will surely be closed soon, if funding is not found.
The report does offer potential solutions to boost park funds:
One proposal is for license-plate fees that would go to state parks. License-plate holders who paid the parks fees would then be allowed free admission to state parks. Another is that $15 be added to each annual vehicle-registration fee, or to other dedicated funding schemes.
"I hope that we can convince the governor and the Legislature that something different has to be done for the state parks system," said Bill Meek, president of the Arizona State Park Foundation. "Otherwise, there won't be a state parks system in a just a very few years."