Oracle State Park reopens on limited basis

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Oracle State Park, located about 40 minutes North of Tucson, reopened today for the first time in more than two years.

It was more than the celebratory free admission that drove hundreds to the park today.

In October of 2009, state budget cuts forced the park to close.

"Well you know how it is, when it's gone or closed, that's when you realize it the most," said Bryan Barr, who lives in Oracle. "You kind of take it for granted like everything else."

Mary Ann Pogany, president of the group "Friends of Oracle State Park' says a cooperative agreement with the state made the re-opening possible.

"They asked us last summer if we would help raise the additional funds that they needed, which was $21,000," Pogany said. "And we said, 'we would really like to give it a try.'"

Now, the gates and trails here will be open on a limited basis... three months in both the Spring and Fall.

Park rangers counted every person that came in today. Before 5 p.m., more than 600 people had come through the gates.

Parking lots today were packed, but the main attractions here don't require a car.

"I love hiking on the trails here and seeing the animals, and habitats here," Keefer Gagnon, an 11-year-old from Oracle said.

On two wheels, and on foot, the trails today were full again.

But, as more budget cuts loom, advocates say there's more than one reason to save state parks.

"We are going to lose revenue to the state, we are a tourist community," Pogany said. "It's very shortsighted to lose your parks."

Park officials say on a given weekend back when the park was open, a good turnout would be about 30 people. Today more than 700 people came to the park.

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