Pima County Government Logo
  • Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Print
  • RSS
  • Supervisors approve funding plan to expand Tortolita Mountain Park

    Aug 06, 2013 | Read More News
    Share this page
    The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, Aug. 6, to seek a state Growing Smarter matching grant and use excess 2012-13 general funds to acquire 800 acres of state trust land to expand Tortolita Mountain Park.

    Tortolita Mountain ParkTortolita Mountain Park was established in 1986 with voter-approved bond funds. Additional bond funds, a donation of land and a Growing Smarter grant in 2012 have grown the park to 5,600 acres. The park is the principal natural open space park for the northwest Tucson Basin, including Catalina and the towns of Oro Valley and Marana.

    According to Arizona State Parks, which administers the Growing Smarter grant program, this fiscal year will be the last grant award cycle because of a lack of funding. Since 2001, of the $200 million in matching funds awarded, Pima County has received only $4.7 million. Maricopa County has received $188.9 million, with $110.8 million awarded to Phoenix and $78.1 million awarded to Scottsdale.

    Pima County's mountain parks – Tucson Mountain Park, Colossal Cave Mountain Park and Tortolita Mountain Park – are travel and tourism magnets that benefit the local economy. Visit Tucson’s 2012 Visitor Survey found that visitors cite the surrounding natural environment and outdoor/desert activities as Tucson's greatest attractions. The Arizona Office of Tourism estimates that direct travel spending generated $2.6 billion in revenue, 22,300 direct jobs, and $150.5 million in local and state tax revenues in 2012.

    Tortolita Mountain Park mapThe Oro Valley Town Council passed a resolution on July 3, 2013, supporting the County's efforts to secure more matching grant funds for Tortolita Mountain Park's expansion. The Arizona State Land Department has accepted the County’s proposal to acquire 800 acres of reclassified State Trust land. The land value is expected to range between $2 million and $2.5 million, of which Pima County’s share would be about $1.25 million ($1,500/acre), with the 50 percent Growing Smarter matching grant covering the balance.

    “We’re hopeful that the actual cost will be lower than that,” County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the Board. He also reiterated that this will be the last chance the County will have to apply for a Growing Smarter grant that would pay half the cost.

    The Board approved allocating $775,000 in development in lieu mitigation fees toward the acquisition, with the remainder coming from unallocated excess 2012-13 general funds. That excess, which is estimated to be about $450,000, will be determined when the final audit of the 2012-13 budget is completed in October.