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Desert Willow Open Space

For more information contact:
Marisa Rice, Open Space Land Manager
(520) 724-4600

The District’s Desert Willow property was acquired in 2014. The 56-acre property, located in the Agua Caliente Wash floodplain, was dedicated to the District as a Conservation Natural Area (CNA) through the platting process for Desert Willow Ranch subdivision - the purpose being to preserve open space, floodplain, and riparian habitat.

Historically the property was used by the adjacent community for horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking. This use created a web of trails that over time have caused compaction and erosion throughout the property. In 2017, the District developed a plan to close 30% of the trails, re-align existing trails to minimize erosion and ponding and use natural channel design techniques to mitigate erosion. The District reached out to the surrounding community for public input and as a result the plan was revised to improve functionality of the trail system, especially for equestrian users, while still maintaining 30% trail closure.
Trail Map
Project construction began in August 2017 and was completed in May 2018, with construction occurring in two phases:
Phase 1, completed in Fall 2017, included closing trails, tillage of compacted areas, seeding, signage, and installation of a gate.

Phase 2, completed in Spring 2018, included installation of rock structures using natural channel design techniques and installation of trail map signs. Structures included one rock dams, a zuni bowl, and media lunas to mitigate head-cuts and on-going rill erosion on the western portion of the property. An Arizona Conservation Crew built the rock structures and removed old fencing, while Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation staff completed all other work on the project.

The District will perform long-term monitoring of the rock structures. Photo monitoring points were established in Spring 2018 and will be monitored annually to assess success of the erosion mitigation treatment.