Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Arizona Plans to Close State Parks

I really, really don't want to get political on this blog, but I just read an article that has me really steaming. According to AZ Central, the Arizona government is proposing the closure of 13 state parks, including Lost Dutchman (pictured above), Red Rock, and Picacho Peak. This is outrageous. From what I've read, the state parks don't take much tax money, if any. They rely on entrance fees and other fees to support them, but the state earns revenue from the parks.

Here's what the article states on AZ Central:

       "Roper Lake, Tombstone Courthouse, Tubac Presidio and Yuma Territorial Prison would follow on March 29.
       The closures would conclude on June 3 with the shuttering of Alamo Lake, Lost Dutchman, Picacho Peak, Red Rock and Tonto Natural Bridge state parks.
       The state parks selected to remain open are the ones that generate revenue: Buckskin Mountain, Catalina, Cattail Cove, Dead Horse Ranch, Fool Hollow Lake, Kartchner Caverns, Lake Havasu, Patagonia Lake, and Slide Rock.
       But even those will close unless the parks system gets a $3 million infusion of cash before the end of the fiscal year, said Renee Bahl, the parks director."

Many residents of Arizona view living in our state as a tax haven from California, the northeast, or other parts of the country where citizens are willing to fund their state. Many more view Arizona as their own personal retirement community. In this economic downturn, Arizonans are suddenly finding out that they need to chip in and contribute to the state community, but they don't want to. Educate children? Fund parks? No way! They left California/Massachusetts/Illinois/etc. to get out of doing just those sorts of things! For example, Mesa, Arizona has half a million people and their median state property tax contribution is only about a thousand bucks and they have no city property taxes. Yet, when the governor proposed a 1 cent temporary sales tax increase, it was voted down.

If you want to read something really asinine, read the comments on the AZ Central article. I'm sure there's probably some thoughtful comments in there, but the majority are stupid at best, racist at worst. Mexican immigrants are the ultimate Arizonan scapegoat (or red herring); people just love to harp on "illegals" and blame them for everything, even though immigration is just one small part in a great, big, complicated socioeconomic system. Not very thoughtful, but probably easier than actually knowing things. It's so stupid that if it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious.

For more information or to find out what we can try to do to stop this, check out the Arizona Parks Foundation website. I'd also like to end by pointing out that there are many, many great people in Arizona who care about our community and value our natural resources. It is by no means an intellectual void. Unfortunately, the dumbest voices are often the loudest voices, and the loudest voices get heard.

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