Happy Campers and Hikers: State Parks Open After Employees Told to Report to Work Despite Lack of Budget

The state parks department sent out the following news release this morning, announcing that "closed" signs were being taken down at state parks. The Arizona Republic's Casey Newton reports that some campers had already been evicted as a state government shutdown loomed. But after state workers were told to stay at their jobs, the parks department moved quickly to let people know their favorite haunts would be open for the upcoming holiday weekend.

Unlike many state expenditures, the money spent on parks apparently shells out immediate returns in the form of tourist dollars. Scroll down for the release:

(Phoenix, AZ -- July 1, 2009 - 9:00 AM) - Campers will be the happiest people in the state today to hear that the Arizona State Parks department are re-opening State Parks immediately. Because state employees were authorized to report to work this morning, all the park rangers will take down closed park signs at the gates to the State Parks and the public is welcome to come and enjoy the great outdoors.

"Nobody is happier than we are to welcome guests back into the parks and to get ready for our biggest week of the year, the Fourth of July holidays," said Executive Director Renee Bahl. "During this difficult economic time it is critical that we continue to offer park opportunities for our residents and visitors. These rural communities rely on tourism to keep their restaurants, gas and retail businesses vibrant. Since the 30 State Parks generate $266 million in economic impact for the rural communities, the parks now are one of the last big revenue generators for outlying businesses who then contribute to the state budget."

For more information about the 30 State Parks, other hiking opportunities such as hiking all the 550 State Trails, off-highway vehicle trails and other outdoor recreational and cultural opportunities in Arizona, visit the website at or call (602) 542-4174.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.