Sierra Club: Save the State Parks!

Sandy Bahr of the Sierra Club sends out her weekly update of environmental legislation, along with a plea for you to call your state lawmakers to save the state parks:

Hello all! It appears that the Arizona Legislature has finished its work in committees and now will be addressing legislation primarily on the Floor. This means a few of the really awful bills may die for the session. Of course they can always suspend the rules to consider a measure — or amendment it on to another bill — and then there is the budget. As I indicated last week, the Senate budget is a disaster on many levels. We need to let the Governor and the House Leadership know that we care about Parks and ask them to remove the provisions in the budget that would significantly harm them.

The Senate budget sweeps funds that keep the Parks open and maintained. SB1612 general appropriations 2011-2012 (Biggs, Klein, Murphy, et al.) sweeps the Enhancement Fund of approximately $2,090 000. This is particularly outrageous as this fund consists of the user fees we all pay to use the parks. It also takes $1,491,100 from the State Lake Improvement Fund in this current fiscal year. If passed by the House and signed by the Governor, this will create a huge cash flow issue for parks and make it nearly impossible for the agency to pay its rent, meet payroll or pay for operations.

SB1624 environment; 2011-2012; budget reconciliation (Biggs, Murphy, Pearce, et al) requires the State Parks Board to cut a bad deal for parks and the public. State Parks must issue requests for proposals for the private operation of some or all state parks, and requires the Board to allow a private entity to manage at least one park that was profitable in FY 2011 and at least one other park that was either not profitable or closed in FY 2011. The Board must award a contract by February 1, 2012.

Please call or email your representatives in the Arizona House and ask them to oppose both of these measures. Click on Save Our State Parks to send an email. To call from outside the Phoenix area, use the toll free number at 1-800-352-8404. In the Phoenix area call (602) 926-4221 (House). Ask them to connect you to your legislators’ offices. Remember calls can be very effective ways of reaching legislators.

Tell them to not to give away our state parks and destroy our state park system. Ask them to keep our parks public and funded via the dollars generated from fees and special funds. Parks protect cultural and natural areas and are important economic engines for rural Arizona.

Please also ask your representatives in the Arizona House to oppose the strike everything amendment on SB1517 (Melvin, Aboud: Antenori, et al). It deals with transmission lines; environmental compatibility certificates. All transmission lines that are