AZ report reflects good news for state's parks - Tucson News Now

AZ report reflects good news for state's parks

Catalina State Park in Oro Valley draws between 175,000 and 200,000 visitors a year. (Source: KOLD News 13) Catalina State Park in Oro Valley draws between 175,000 and 200,000 visitors a year. (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A report released by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey shows state parks are making a comeback both financially and in attendance.

The report shows the parks generated a record $16.4 million in revenue and had 2.68 million visitors, another record.

“We are thrilled,” the governor said in a press release. “A healthy park system is key to preserving our state parks, and growing attendance will provide further economic benefits.”

The state owns and maintains more than 40 parks in its system.

One of those parks leading the way is Catalina State Park in Oro Valley. It draws between 175,000 and 200,000 visitors a year.

“Since we don’t get general funds anymore the emphasis has been on revenue generation,” said Steven Haas, the park manager. “I think we’ve stepped up to the plate in creative ways.”

The park charges $7 per car but has annual passes for as little as $75.

The hope is to charge what the experience is worth but not charge too much to chase away potential visitors.

“We’ve been at $7 for several years,” Haas said. “I think that’s pretty reasonable.”

Compare that to the price of taking the family to a restaurant or going to the movies.

The money being made in the park system will stay in the park system and be used for upgrades at a half dozen parks throughout the state.

It will build 100 additional cabins in several parks as part of a public/private partnership. The revenues from the cabins will be split 50/50 between the state and its partners.

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During the great recession the state park system lost $72 million and it was not uncommon to see a drop of 8 percent to 11 percent annually in many parks.

State parks are an economic driver for many communities.

Tove Pap moved to Tucson three years ago from Minnesota and Washington state.

“Every time we have company from out of town, we all come here,” she said.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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