Success! State Parks’ Funding Mechanism is Reinstated!

Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund
Red Rock Crossing is one of the most popular places to snap a photo in Sedona.

Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund

By Sam Kathryn Campana

A successful 10-year effort culminated in July with the signature of Governor Doug Ducey on Senate Bill 1241, which passed handily through the necessary committees, the House and Senate, to restore the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund. This will be funded in the future by grants, donations, and direct appropriations until the encumbrances on the Arizona Lottery are fulfilled—projected to be 2029.

Endless Pressure; Endlessly Applied

Janice Miano, the former executive director and now Arizona Heritage Alliance board chair, credits the tenaciousness of this advocacy organization, its members and volunteers. Receptive to this “endless pressure; endlessly applied” were Senator Kate Brophy McGee and co-sponsors in the Senate Paul Boyer, Heather Carter, Sine Kerr, Tony Navarrete, Lisa Otondo and Frank Pratt.  

House Bill 2701 would have put the Heritage Fund into statute, and provided the full funding it had from the Arizona Lottery from 1991 through 2009. Though unsuccessful, ardent supporters of the Heritage Fund convinced members of the House to support SB1241. Those legislative friends included Rep. Joanne Osborne Andres Cano, Regina Cobb, David Cook, Tim Dunn, Charlene Fernandez, John Kavanaugh and Ben Toma. 

The State Parks Heritage Fund—which after being approved by the voters with 66% of the vote in 1990—was unceremoniously defunded 10 years ago. These were lottery funds giving $10 million a year to Arizona Game & Fish (not rescinded) and $10 million a year to our state parks. Dollars were invested in parks in every county of Arizona, with great return in the form of usage by Arizonans and our tourists.

Arizona Heritage Alliance

Committed advocates formed the Arizona Heritage Alliance (AHA), a non-profit formed to pass legislation requiring the State  to invest in Arizona’s outdoors, to protect and enhance our state’s natural, cultural, historical and recreational resources. The first 20 years after citizens’ support and passage of the initiative realized over $368 million in investment.

With the inspired and dedicated leadership of local activist Janice Miano, following in the footsteps of Beth Woodin and Tom Woods (both former members of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission—sadly, neither lived long enough for this historic day), AHA introduced legislation or mounted an initiative effort nearly every year for 10 years, trying to reinstate these invaluable funds.

“This year, building on past efforts, hundreds of our members and friends voiced their support” for this bill, says Miano.

Hundreds more communicated with the legislature through phone calls, emails, letters or attendance at committee hearings. The next efforts will be to ensure the fund has dollars allocated through the budget process.

But 10 years without this critical funding left our state parks system on life support. Only one park operates “in the black”—the internationally acclaimed Kartchner Caverns. Parks are an amenity, often intended to be free to the public, and not a revenue-generator. So, infrastructure crumbled, park hours shortened or closed, precious historic buildings deteriorated, and rangers disappeared. The Center for the Future of Arizona confirmed that we covet the awesome beauty of our natural resources, and further value our health and well-being, all of which were being compromised by this lack of funding.

Historic Preservation

The advocates’ effective message: Arizona’s local, regional, and state parks and recreation facilities are economic development generators that encourage the spending of tourist dollars, attract businesses whose workforces choose jobs in locations with quality of life benefits, strengthen community cohesion, and increase property values. Historic preservation initiatives in our rural communities and urban areas promote economic development by creating jobs, revitalizing historic areas, increasing property values, and promoting heritage tourism.

The work of the AHA  and its volunteer members took 10 years of unwavering effort, resiliency, commitment and creativity. But when you head up north to cool Dead Horse Ranch, take a dip at Lake Havasu, encounter fields of wildflowers at Picacho Peak, frolic among the Red Rocks, or are content to just know that resources soon will again be available for our 17 state parks, thank the Heritage Fund, the Arizona State Lottery, the Arizona Heritage Alliance, and your state elected officials. Know we must be vigilant and tenacious now to protect our most precious Arizona natural resources—parks, open space, trails, historic preservation investments, outdoor recreation, outdoor and environmental education, and historic preservation.

“Endless pressure; endlessly applied.”

A Life of Conservation

Meet Janice Miano  

Janice Miano received her first pair of binoculars at 7 years old in rural Vermont. She has been a volunteer/activist in conservation and wildlife protection ever since.

Early on, Miano worked as the grassroots coordinator for National Audubon Society (NAS) International and Population Programs in Washington, D.C. She was chosen to represent NAS at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Conference in Perth, Australia, where she testified to the importance of the Global Forest Protocol.

A graduate of NAS Leadership Training, she worked closely with U.S. senators on many critical issues, including foreign assistance and population issues, old-growth forest destruction, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

After moving to Arizona in 1994, with Audubon training in D.C. under her belt, she continued to be active with environmental issues. For the past-president of the Arizona Audubon Council and the volunteer coordinator at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center in central Phoenix for five years, it was a wonderful time to see nature education embedded in south Phoenix.

Those efforts and others have garnered her several coveted awards, including the President’s Award from Arizona Parks & Recreation Association, the Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Award of Merit for Environmental Stewardship (SRP Award) Central Arizona, and Audubon Arizona’s Chairman’s Award.

AHA Mission

Miano joined the board of the Arizona Heritage Alliance (AHA) in 1999. The Alliance’s mission is to protect, preserve and enhance Arizona’s historic, cultural and natural heritage. She became the Alliance’s director of administration, then advocacy committee chairman, and currently is the president of the board of directors.

Miano recently graduated from Arizona’s Leading for Change Fellowship. This Fellowship takes what you know and have experienced, and provides the environment to reflect critically and discover new ways to effectively lead and influence positive community change. Beloved by her fellow advocates, the training took flight. Her leadership at AHA resulted in the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund being reinstated this July, and she’ll now be actively advocating for full funding of $10 million annually, from a variety of resources.

Keep up with all of Green Living’s story by visiting our website.

 


Former Scottsdale Mayor/Councilmember Sam Kathryn Campana is an Arizona Heritage Alliance board member and the founding executive director of the National Audubon Society Audubon Arizona.

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