Like everywhere, the State of Arizona has been hit hard by economic setbacks, and the state has announced the closure of thirteen of its 22 State Parks in the next few months. The parks on the closure list are Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, Lyman Lake State Park in St. Johns, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff, Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde, Roper Lake State Park in Safford, Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park near Payson, Alamo Lake State Park in Wenden, Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Picacho Peak State Park near Tucson, and Red Rock State Park in Sedona. Four State Parks, Jerome State Historic Park, McFarland State Historic Park in Florence, Oracle State Park, and San Rafael State Natural Area were closed previously due to budget cuts.
We have visited many of these parks over the years, and I’m really sorry that this action was taken. It is a real loss to the people of Arizona and visitors to the state. However, do I wonder if the attitude of the folks at the State Parks might not have been a least a tiny part of the problem.
I can’t help but remember that three or four years ago, we stopped at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and wanted to do a story on the park for the Gypsy Journal. Usually when we tell whoever is on duty at a place like this what we’re up to, we get a warm welcome and often a lot of extra help, such as pointing out behind the scenes details that most people overlook. After all, we’re giving them free publicity that will reach thousands of potential visitors.
But not at Tubac Presidio, a Spanish mission dating back to the 1600s! When the very officious Ranger on duty learned that we planned to do a feature story in the park, he demanded we surrender our cameras, and took away the park brochure I had picked up, because State Park “policy” forbade anyone from using photos of or information from the park for commercial purposes.
When I could not get anywhere with the Ranger on duty, I asked to speak to a supervisor, but he told me that would not be possible. In a follow up call to the State Parks headquarters in Phoenix, I was told that this was indeed the policy, but that if I were to submit a request in writing, weeks ahead of our visit, it would be reviewed and they would get back with me. I had a better idea – we drove a few miles further south and stopped at Tumacácori National Historical Park, another historic Spanish mission from the same period, where the folks on duty welcomed us with open arms and went out of their way to give us enough information for two or three feature stories!
Two years ago we were staying at the Thousand Trails preserve in Camp Verde, Arizona and made a day trip to Jerome. Sometime in the afternoon, as we were headed back to the campground, Miss Terry suddenly needed to make a pit stop. We were right in front of Jerome State Historic Park, so I pulled in and Terry went into the Visitor center to use the bathroom. The Ranger on duty stopped her and told her that the bathrooms were for park visitor use only, and demanded that she pay the $5 entrance fee or she could not use the bathroom, which was right there in the Visitor Center. She told him that it was rather an emergency, but he did not care one bit. Pay the money or go find a bush someplace!
So while I hate to see the parks closed, I keep thinking that what goes around comes around.
On another note, Bad Nick had to act like a grownup and play disciplinarian yesterday. You can read about it in the Bad Nick Blog post titled Bad Nick Plays Censor. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Thought For The Day – Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet, and they will forward dumb e-mails to you forever.