The Arizona Parks Department is set to close all but two state parks at midnight if no budget deal has been reached by then.
At the 13 parks with campsites, the department began asking campers to leave at 4 p.m. today (June 30) so the parks could be closed if the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer have not agreed on a budget deal by midnight, when the 2009 fiscal year ends. In all, 28 of Arizona’s 30 state parks will be closed if there is a government shutdown.
Two parks, Fool Hollow Lake State Recreation Area near Show Low and Lake Havasu State Park will continue operating under special use applications requested by those cities. Under the agreements, the cities of Show Low and Lake Havasu will operate the parks with their staffs from June 30 to July 5, unless a budget is passed before then.
If no budget deal is reached and a state government shutdown occurs, the closure of state parks could take a heavy toll on nearby communities that rely on the parks to attract tourism, an especially weighty problem for cities as Arizonans prepare to head out of town for the Fourth of July weekend.
“It’s mostly a problem for the communities, because we’re the economic engine for those communities,” said Parks Department spokeswoman Ellen Bilbrey.