Category Archives: State Parks

Commentary: Our State Parks are in trouble

[Source: Don Farmer, Arizona Heritage Alliance Board] — Our Arizona State Parks are in trouble. It seems the current down economy and resulting state budget meltdown has led our elected legislature to strip out most of the State Parks funding and redirect it to more “important” needs. The direct result of this action is the drastic reduction of the services and programs our State Parks provide us. You do not have to be a State Park visitor to be impacted by this loss. The Arizona State Parks Agency manages 27 parks and natural areas located around the state. They also oversee our State Trails system; manage the Outdoor-Related Grants Program, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Off-Highway Vehicle Program. The folks at Arizona State Parks have been managing all of these lands and programs in an under-funded condition for years as the legislature chose to sweep one revenue source after another from them. Just one year ago, the situation at State Parks was dire; now with the current loss of funding, the entire agency is threatened with catastrophic collapse. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Fort Verde vandalized again

[Source: Steve Ayers, Bugle] — For the third time in the last four months, vandals have struck historic Fort Verde State Park. According to Park Ranger Dennis Lockhart, someone sprayed graffiti on the wall of the surgeon’s quarters in April. Then in July someone broke out several panes of glass in an old window at the fort’s visitor center. Last weekend the same window was broken out again and the air conditioner for the museum and visitor center (pictured) was destroyed. Lockhart estimates the panes of glass cost about $40 each to repair. The air conditioner will have to be replaced, costing an estimated $5,000.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Steve Ayers, VVN.]

Casa Grande council gives land purchase initial OK

[Source: Harold Kitching, Casa Grande Dispatch] — If all goes well, Casa Grande will soon have 120 acres for a regional park on the north side. Monday night, the City Council approved purchasing 100 acres at the northwest corner of Hopi Drive and Pinal Avenue for $4.7 million and accepting a donation of another 20 acres from the sellers, Richard and Robert Linden, whose family has owned the property for years. The Lindens will keep 39.22 acres in the northeast corner of the 160-acre parcel for future development. Final negotiations are under way, Deputy City Manager Larry Rains said, with documents to be available by the time of the next council meeting, when the purchase ordinance must again be considered. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Florence IDA has been marching to its own beat for 40 years

[Source: Daniel Dullum, Florence Reminder] — Traditionally, IDAs exist solely as fundraising conduits. In 1968, the Florence IDA established its own independent approach that also includes land ownership and involvement in historic restoration. The IDA’s list of accomplishments is impressive. It includes restoration of the Suter house, the Brunenkant Bakery building and the building that houses Total Concept. They helped build Jacques Square, financed facades, and helped establish the Townsite Historic District.

And, when McFarland State Historic Park faced closure, the IDA prepared a comprehensive resolution that helped keep the park open in perpetuity. “We’ve done a lot within that 40 years,” Florence IDA president Peter Villaverde said. “I’m sure we’ve spent close to $2 million for various projects, starting with the Visitor’s Center, which is now going to be the Main Street headquarters. “My project is Jacques Square. We purchased that for $20,000, the town participated, the community participated. … The developer who restored what is now Total Concept was really impressed by what the community can do when working together, and donated the watering system for the trees.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder. Pictured: The reconstructed Cosmopolitan Saloon, one of the Florence IDA’s many accomplishments.]

Funding ’sweeps’ leave state parks in shambles

[Source: John Collins Rudolf, Zonie Report] — The steady gaze of Earnest McFarland, who in the mid-20th century served Arizona as a U.S. senator, governor and state supreme court justice, looks down on every visitor to the state park that bears his name, a restored frontier courthouse in dusty Florence, built in 1874. “We will never be perfect in our government, but high ideals can predominate,” reads a brass plaque beneath the portrait, quoting one of McFarland’s favorite sayings.

Yet perfection is hardly the word that comes to mind during a tour of McFarland State Historical Park. Massive cracks stretch from floor to ceiling on more than one of the building’s original adobe walls. A support beam braces a crumbling exterior wall, keeping the wall and sections of roof from collapsing. In another room, which over the years served variously as a jail, county hospital and prisoner-of-war camp, caution tape warns visitors to avoid a gaping hole in the floor. “McFarland did a lot for this state and this community, and I think he would be very saddened if he saw the condition of this building today,” says assistant park manager Terri Leverton. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Sedona’s Homolovi Ruins State Park celebrates Suvoyuki Day

[Source: Ellen Bilbrey, Gateway to Sedona] — “Suvoyuki” translated in the Hopi language means to accomplish work through at “joint effort.” “Suvoyuki Day” is an open house day at Homolovi Ruins State Park that celebrates the partners who have helped to protect and save Homolovi area archaeological and cultural sites from destruction. The event begins on Friday, July 11, at 7 p.m., with a talk about the Hopi culture.

On Saturday, July 12, the day begins at 6 a.m., with a traditional Hopi morning run (4 and 6.5 miles) with all participants invited. Following the run, the Hopi corn roasting pit will be opened and all will get a taste of freshly roasted sweet corn. Throughout the day, there will be Hopi artist demonstrations, traditional food demonstrations and lectures. Archaeologists will also be there to interpret the sites. Parking will be available on the northeast corner of Interstate 40 and State Route 87. Shuttle service will then be available from there to the park. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Arizona tourism groups promote Grand Canyon state parks and trails

[Source: Lynn Ducey, Phoenix Business Journal] — The Arizona Office of Tourism, Arizona State Parks and the Arizona Trail Association are joining forces to promote parks and trails across the Grand Canyon state. Called the Arizona Passages, the campaign uses the theme Just Feet Away to show that residents and tourists don’t have to travel far to have fun. The campaign is designed to showcase outdoor recreation opportunities and highlight outings that focus on nature, history and culture available to people regardless of their fitness levels.

The program touts activities at 27 state parks and along the 800-mile Arizona Trail. The campaign also features a strong web component with interactive content and information about off-the-beaten path spots across the state. In addition, Web visitors can register for prizes and giveaways including a houseboat adventure on Lake Powell. The site incorporates third-party content from sites like TripAdvisor, Google Maps, MeetUp and Flickr, and allows visitors to submit their own travel stories and experiences. For more information, click here.

Homolovi state park: Hopi history on display in Winslow

[Source: Mary Beth Faller, Arizona Republic] — In the visitor center, a feathered paho is attached high on a stone wall, protecting non-Hopis from the forces unleashed by the opening of the ancient villages buried here. “There are powerful forces associated with archaeological sites,” says park manager Karen Berggren. “They’re not evil, but the power released is like a flash flood.” Hopis made the paho icon out of raptor feathers to protect visitors to the park, which is part of the Hopis’ homeland. Homolovi, a recreational area for visitors, is a sacred site for the Indians, who nonetheless are happy to share their culture.

The endless views of the stark plateaus and mesas enhance the sense that visitors are setting foot on holy ground. The park, just off Interstate 40 north of Winslow, was created in 1993 at the urging of the Hopis, who were desperate to save their ancient villages from thieves and vandals. The ruins of villages from the 1200s to the late 1300s were filled with thousands of pots, luring unscrupulous collectors. “In the 1960s, a guy came in here with a backhoe,” Berggren says. The thieves stole the pots and destroyed much of the surrounding village structures, all of which are sacred to the Hopis. It would be like tourists chipping off pieces of the Sistine Chapel ceiling when they visited. “We estimate we’ve lost 95 percent of the pots,” Berggren says.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona Republic.]

Phoenix’s South Mountain Las Lomitas Ramada scope meeting

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office] — Staff from the Historic Preservation Office, Parks & Recreation Department and Engineering & Architectural Services Department met with Bob Mather of Westlake Reed Leskosky Architects to discuss the scope of work for rehabilitation of the the Las Lomitas Ramada at South Mountain Park. This is an extensive 1930s wood and stone ramada built by the Civilian Conservartion Corps as a work relief project. The ramada, which is the largest at the park, has been closed for several months due to concerns about its condition. HP staff recommended hiring WRLA architecturs due to the firm’s experience rehabilitation historic structures. Mr. Mather is currently preparing a proposal that will be submitted to HP, P&R and EAS staff for review.

Sierra Club opposes Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park in Sedona

[Source: Sierra Club Sedona-Verde Valley Group] — The Sierra Club Sedona-Verde Valley Group opposes transfer of the AZ Heritage Fund Grant monies to rebuild the ”re-born” 600+ capacity Cultural Center at Posse Grounds Park. We are opposed to the construction of the proposed Cultural Center at Posse Grounds Park for the following reasons:

Environmental

This property was proactively cleared of smaller plants in mid-Fall, 2007 just before the “area of construction” was outlined and a pole denoting height of structure were installed. Twenty large mature pinions and junipers and almost as many large (5’) native shrubs (Manzanita, live Oak) would have to be removed for the construction further degrading the site. Although the “Friends of Posse Grounds Park, Inc.” (“Friends”) have maintained that the trees could be transplanted; checking with local arborists suggests that the transplant success rate even under the best conditions would be far less than 50%. This Park is also already overused and overbuilt with 16 playing fields, West Sedona elementary school, a teen center, skate park, dog park, community swimming pool and popular hiking trails – and insufficient parking (less than 140 parking spaces). It is also not directly accessible from a major highway (as the first Center was) without first traversing contiguous neighborhoods.

City of Sedona money mismanagement; lack of city skills; and coercive behavior toward residents

The City has an obvious lack of skills to oversee, maintain, and run such a venue; we note the failure of the City to properly manage and ensure the Heritage Fund grant funds before its release to a non-profit organization responsible for building and operating the Sedona Cultural Park, and subsequent bankruptcy of the non-profit resulting from the City’s lack of oversight – notably Public money mismanagement. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]