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Arizona ranch bought by state nearly 10 years ago poised to become park

In this Nov. 5, 2015 photograph provided by Arizona State Parks, horses graze on land slated to become a new state park in Camp Verde, Ariz. Park officials used $7 million from a conservation fund to buy the Rockin' River Ranch along the Verde River in 2008. (AP Photo/Arizona State Parks)

PHOENIX — A ranch bought by the state nearly a decade ago is being turned into a park that will include campsites and recreational opportunities along the scenic Verde River in north-central Arizona.

The recently approved Arizona budget includes $4 million to turn the Rockin’ River Ranch in Camp Verde into a state park. That marks a dramatic turnaround from the Great Recession when the parks system struggled to keep existing locations open.

Park officials in 2008 used $7 million from a conservation fund to buy the site, considered an environmental pearl because of its location along the free-flowing Verde.

It has largely sat dormant since then because for years the park system had no money to develop the property.

Now that park revenue is feeding the system’s growth, it has spurred action.

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