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Ariz. parks officials preparing closure list

State budget cuts have prompted officials to prepare a list of proposed park closures they said could turn into a “death spiral.”

Arizona State Parks Executive Director Renee Bahl intends to present the parks board with the recommendations at a Jan. 15 meeting.

The closings could begin later this month. Several parks were closed last year due to budget cuts and facility problems.

The latest recommendations would reflect an $8.6 million midyear budget cut approved during the Legislature’s December special session. The cuts must be implemented by June 30.

The state also will lose any operating revenue produced by any closed parks, parks spokeswoman Ellen Bilbrey said.

“It’s kind of a death spiral,” she said.

Bahl and other officials will base the closures on complex criteria that includes visitation numbers, revenue and costs to operate and close.

Figures released Jan. 4 by State Parks indicates the only sites where revenue exceed costs on a per-visitor basis were Alamo near Wenden, Kartchner Caverns in Benson, Slide Rock near Sedona, Catalina near Tucson, and Cattail Cove and Lake Havasu, both at Lake Havasu City.

Last year, the agency closed Jerome Historic, McFarland Historic in Florence and Oracle.

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