Frequently Searched

Private companies can manage state parks

November 7, 2014

Arizona state parks continue to make news and be used as a pawn in the budget chess game. Budget reductions approved by the legislature in December will likely result in some park closures. Parks that make money like Kartchner Caverns, Slide Rock, and Lake Havasu will stay open, while money losers will close. Many legislators continue to decry budget reductions to the Parks department, but also refuse to look at realistic alternatives.

I recently received a letter from Warren Meyer, the president of Recreation Resource Management, a Phoenix-based company that manages parks for a wide array of government agencies. His letter says that the parks slated for closure “could easily be kept open” under the management of a company like his. Not only would the parks be kept open, the companies would pay the state for the opportunity to manage them. The parks would actually make money for the state. Not a bad deal considering we’re $4 billion in the red.

Mr. Meyer writes that he’s been encouraging the Parks Department to consider this option for years to no avail. That means there has been a money saving option on the table for years that the legislature and career bureaucrats at the Parks Department have refused to consider.

There are a multitude of options for preserving our parks that don’t require taxpayer funding. For example, instead of keeping Jerome’s Davis Mansion closed, do a long-term lease and preserve it by letting it be operated as a bed and breakfast. Some parks and museums could go the way of the Museum of the Horse Soldier in Tucson, where you can see a life-size horse mannequin wearing a WWI horse gas mask, artifacts from Arizona forts, uniforms, weapons, and saddles back to the civil war. Admission is $2.00 and it’s privately owned and operated. The owner doubtlessly loses money on his priceless collection, yet there it is, and taxpayers aren’t required to spend a dime.

The Morrison Institute has suggested raising license plate fees by $15 to fund the parks, but that is unnecessary. Legislators need to consider all of the options before them and choose those that reduce government spending obligations so that we can begin to climb out of our fiscal hole.

Byron Schlomach, Ph.D., is the director of the Goldwater Institute’s Center for Economic Prosperity.

Learn More:

Channel 12: Byron Schlomach on how to REALLY save Arizona’s state parks



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.