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Canoa Hills Trails - An Open Space Park

Project Status: Park maintenance, restoration and rehabilitation work is currently ongoing.

 canoahills
The 139-acre site occupies the former Canoa Hills Golf Course in Green Valley, Arizona. It consists of 7 parcels that sit in natural drainage areas between existing elevated suburban developments, and it straddles a major north-south vehicular route, Camino del Sol. Parcels are connected by residential streets with culverts large enough to accommodate golf cart passage beneath Camino del Sol.

The Canoa Hills Golf Course was in operation from 1984 to July 2013. In 2014 Borderland Construction and the San Ignacio Golf Club bought the property, but never reopened due to prohibitive costs and a lack of need in an area with several other prominent and functioning golf courses. This led to the donation of the property to the Pima County Regional Flood Control District in December 2018 to rehabilitate the course into a public nature park. The entirety of the former Canoa Hills Golf Course makes up the site for the Canoa Hills Trails Park, except for the clubhouse and parking lot associated with the golf course.

The District's primary goals include enhancing passive recreation and wildlife habitat by creating native plant communities, mitigating erosion issues, and enhancing floodplain function. The design is economical, functional, and efficient due to budget maintenance constraints. Initially the park will use water from Canoa Ranch to irrigate restored areas, but once native plant communities are well-established, potable water use will cease. A goal of an eventual master plan will be to minimize the need for maintenance and actively promote resilient native plant communities. Exceptions may be made for strategically located pollinator gardens that are cared for by project partners.

Master Plan

The District is currently working on a Master Plan for the Canoa Hills Trails Park. Public comments and open-house meetings will be held in order for the District to receive feedback on both short and long-term planning efforts. Through collaborative meetings with adjacent property owners, homeowner’s associations, and other interested stakeholders, these meetings will provide opportunities for groups to address concerns and help the County better form an adaptive re-use plan that will serve the needs of a park for area residents and visitors.

Long-term planning for adaptive re-use may potentially include:

1. Re-establishing natural drainage in areas within regulatory floodplains to address stormwater harvesting and mitigate the effects of local drainage from adjacent subdivisions.
2. Controlling invasive and non-native vegetation species, and develop a landscape plan to restore the riparian canopy. The County anticipates working with the University of Arizona’s School of Landscape Architecture to accomplish this task.
3. Identifying areas where improvements would be desirable including benches, path improvements, etc.

History

After the private donation of the golf course to the Regional Flood Control District, various Pima County departments started to develop a Maintenance Plan to identify and prioritize both short and long-term goals.

The County identified various short-term maintenance goals, which included:
1. Addressing erosion problems, sediment removal, vegetation and tree trimming, and safety improvements including signage and handrails where necessary.
2. Developing a Maintenance Plan for weed and vegetation control, establishing firebreaks, and addressing buffer areas.
3. Grading various areas to allow for drainage or infiltration of stormwater at former golf course related depressions. 

Pima County thoroughly evaluated the Canoa Hills site with respect to addressing maintenance needs and is working in conjunction with the Green Valley Council to keep residents and interested stakeholders updated while accomplishing these goals.
 
The Green Valley Council can be contacted through email or by telephone; (520) 648-1936 

News Articles

"County memo shows details about proposed Canoa Hills Park" - Green Valley News, March 27, 2018
"New Green Valley park open, but lots of work ahead" - Green Valley News, January 17, 2019
"Parks friends and county ready to press forward" - Green Valley News, November 21, 2019

Tucson Audubon

Freeport-McMoRan recently awarded the Tucson Audubon Society a community investment grant to perform several habitat restoration and improvement projects at Canoa Hills Trails park in collaboration with a variety of local partners. Final project details have not been fully established, but improvements will include a new lined water feature near the former driving range, a pollinator garden, and stormwater detention and run off work that will grow appropriate native vegetation for bird and wildlife habitat and may include an ephemeral wetland. Additional project sites will occur throughout Green Valley.