The park is scheduled to close on June 3, unless we take action to assist Arizona State Parks financially to keep it open. At the present time, the Town of Payson and the Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge are struggling to raise $7,000 to help with the effort.
This coming Saturday and Sunday, March 20 and 21 the 18th annual Business Showcase will take place at the Foxworth-Galbraith property. The Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park will be in booth #49 to ask people to join us in our effort to preserve the park.
The Friends will be selling raffle tickets and all proceeds from the raffles will go to help Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. We will also be encouraging attendees at the showcase to become members of the Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park a (501c3 nonprofit organization).
In addition to manning a booth at the Business Showcase, the Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge will be paying visits to businesses in Payson, Pine and Strawberry to encourage folks to join in the effort to keep Tonto Natural Bridge open.
I am sure many of us remember that the park closed last year during the height of the tourist season, this closing has had a tremendous negative effect on the park, it not only reduced revenue, it put the question in people’s minds whether or not the park was open, which resulted in a drop in attendance from 87,000 in 2008 to 46,000 in 2009.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a tremendous asset to our community both from a business standpoint and as a place for us to take our friends and relatives when they come to visit. The historic economic impact of the park to the Rim Country is in excess of $3.6 million in revenue annually. Please consider joining our effort by becoming members of the Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. Membership costs are as follows: Single $15, Family $25, Patron $50, Business $50, Super Friend $100, Lifetime / Founding Member $1,000.
Bill L. Ensign,
president of the Friends of Tonto Natural Bridge State Park