Superstition H-D helps save Arizona state park

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Superstition Harley-Davidson has become a major benefactor in an effort to save an Arizona state park from closure.

The state has been resorting to draconian measures to fill a budget gap, including selling public buildings and seeking bids from private prison companies to operate two facilities in the state. The state’s 20 parks were all on the block, but local governments, preservation groups and others are cobbling together enough money to keep 13 of the parks open. Five were scheduled to shut down June 3.

The support surfaced after the state Legislature swept $71.7 million from the state parks budget during the 2009 through 2011 fiscal years, according to the Arizona Republic.

The city of Apache Junction mobilized after officials told a formative meeting of Friends of Lost Dutchman State Park in March that $24,000 was needed to avoid shutting down the facility from July through September.

Superstition Harley-Davidson held a benefit run, and the owners made a donation of their own. A Texas philanthropist kicked in $8,000.

"I think all communities should bridge the gap until they get the funding issue straightened out," said Superstition H-D owner Mark LeResche. "Lost Dutchman State Park is part of our identity. This helped the community come together."

Friends of Lost Dutchman State Park is recruiting volunteers to collect gate fees from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily to keep the trails open. The campground will be closed on July 6 for renovations aimed at making the park self-sufficient.

Posted by Holly Wagner