On December 4th, Pima County acquired 818 acres of state trust land to expand Tortolita Mountain Park! The land was acquired at auction and purchased for its appraised value of $2.45 million. In September, Arizona State Parks awarded the County a Growing Smarter matching grant for $1.225 million which will go towards the purchase. The remainder of funding was allocated from development in lieu mitigation fees (approved by the Board of Supervisors in August) and 2012-2013 general funds. The land purchased is located on the northeast portion of the park and borders Pinal County. This recent expansion has grown the park to over 6,000 acres.
Established in 1986 with voter-approved bond funds, Tortolita Mountain Park is the main natural open space park for the northwest Tucson Basin. This park lies within the Santa Catalina-Tortolita Mountains wildlife linkage and is vital for preserving open space and connectivity. Moreover, in 2006 this linkage was identified as one of Arizona’s 16 “highest priority linkages” by the Arizona Wildlife Linkages Assessment, making conservation of open space within this corridor critical. With the upcoming construction of wildlife crossings along Oracle Road/State Route 77, the expansion of Tortolita Mountain Park will provide a healthier and more effective linkage.
This park, in addition to other Tucson mountain parks, provides a substantial boost to the local economy from tourism. A 2012 Visitor Survey from Visit Tucson found that tourists find the natural environment and outdoor activities to be one of Tucson’s largest attractions. The Arizona Office of Tourism has estimated that $2.6 billion in revenue has resulted from direct travel spending.
Please see the links below for a Coalition letter in support of the purchase, the press release of the acquisition, and a map highlighting the expansion.
Tortolita Expansion Map (note the acquisition increased from the 797 acres indicated)