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Arizona State Parks see rising economic impact

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 7:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Nearly 60% of Arizona adults used trails in our state in the last year. Now, Arizona state parks have been seeing more visitors lately, bringing in more cash flow to surrounding areas.

Outdoor recreation has been steadily increasing across the nation and state for years, but escalated much by the pandemic.

“Outdoor activity is a growing interest and a growing hobby for a lot of people,” said Dari Duval, an economic impact analyst UArizona.

A new study done by the University of Arizona and the Arizona State Parks and Trails department show since 2014, spending by non-local visitors in state parks increased by 20%, and spending by all visitors, in and around state parks, exceeded $330 million last year alone.

“We still saw a lot of new, first time park visitors,” said Timothy Franquist, the deputy director of Arizona State Parks and Trails.

Arizona State Parks and Trails said people are using parks as offices, since folks are allowed away from the corporate cubical with remote work. With an increased economic impact and $25 million in COVID relief funds, the state may make working, learning or teaching in parks more accessible with a push for more broadband and internet access at parks.

“Telework being in your home office, or in an RV, or maybe even a tent site where you get internet service, we do think that is a new opportunity for the future,” said Franquist.

The impacts leak far outside park boundaries. Two Certified Local Government grants are headed to Tucson and Pima County. Tucson will use theirs to find, write and preserve the history of the Asian-American community, something never done before in Tucson.

“Essentially, they will be writing the history of those communities and then going out and identifying properties that are associated with that history,” said Kathryn Leonard, the state historic preservation officer at Arizona State Parks and Trails. “The federal preservation program, at large, has a renewed interest in making sure that our national register tells America’s full story, and for many, many years certain communities have been left out of that story.”

The state said when more historical sights are preserved, federal and state tax incentives can gush money into an area, while preserving culture, and could bring in more tourist dollars.

Pima County will use their new grant to look for archeological sites along the Cienega creek corridor.

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