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  • New Report: Implementation of the Maeveen Marie Behan Conservation Lands System 2001-2021

    Mar 24, 2022 | Read More News
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    In 1998, the Board of Supervisors adopted thereport cover Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP) which  transformed the County’s approach to conserving our cultural and natural resources while enhancing the community’s economic health. One of the first products to come out of the SDCP was the Maeveen Marie Behan Conservation Lands System (CLS).  The CLS is the expression of the SDCP’s Priority Biological Resources and was first adopted by the Board in December 2001. 

    The CLS maps and categorizes lands across Pima County according to their relative importance in maintaining an intact landscape, rich in biological diversity and describes the degree to which certain of these lands should be conserved. The CLS also provides guidelines for achieving the desired level of conservation, and is used most frequently during the application of the County’s land-use authority over private development projects like comprehensive plan amendments and rezoning requests that need the Board’s discretionary approval. 

    January 2022 marked 20 years of the Board’s implementation of the CLS. A new report provides an overview of the history and development of the CLS and analyzes the Board’s application of CLS Conservation Guidelines to rezoning requests approved between January 2002 and December 2021. Findings reveal:

    • The Board approved 316 rezoning requests;
    • Only 57 rezoning requests were within the CLS;
    • Application of the CLS Conservation Guidelines yielded over 3,200 acres of natural open space, nearly 2,400 acres of which were provided within the boundaries of the rezoned property;
    • Natural open space provided at locations off-site from the development property is providing the same or better conservation values as those of the development property; and
    • The Board has shown remarkable consistency in administering the CLS Conservation Guidelines, making adjustments when warranted to require conservation measures commensurate with the condition of on-site resources.
    There has been a great deal of reliability and consistency over the last two decades in both the CLS policy itself and in the Board’s implementation. This has allowed development to continue while preserving natural open space with equal or better conservation values than those of the site being developed. In many cases where natural open space is provided off-site, this has actually expanded County natural open space lands important to regional conservation.

    Most notably, this analysis affirms that the Board’s application of the CLS and its Conservation Guidelines are fulfilling the SDCP’s vision to achieve meaningful conservation while allowing for economic growth.