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  • New Report: Pima County Conservation Acquisitions - An Overview

    Jul 13, 2022 | Read More News
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    The establishment of Tucson Mountain Park in 1929 marks the beginning of Pima County’s efforts to acquire land for conservation purposes. Today, the County’s conservation land holdings total more than 250,200 acres comprised of lands owned in fee as well as those controlled via conservation easements, state and federal grazing leases, and other agreements.  

    Conservation Acquisitions ReportA new report provides an overview of the County’s conservation acquisition efforts to date, which have been carried out using a variety of mechanisms including voluntary property donations, grant funding, and voter-approved bonds. The report discusses the significant public input and oversight that has informed the County’s acquisitions and examines the benefits of these acquisitions from two perspectives: are they responsive to the interests of county residents and do they advance the goal of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP). Findings show our conservation acquisitions accomplish both.  

    The goal of the SDCP is to balance the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage while sustaining a vibrant economy. Our conservation land holdings contribute to and advance the landscape connectivity and natural open space goals expressed in the Maeveen Marie Behan Conservation Lands System (CLS). These holdings also underpin the County’s Multi-Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) and the Incidental Take Permit authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016. In that context, our conservation lands provide the mitigation necessary to offset the impacts of public and private development allowing these developments to streamline compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act. 

    Conservation land acquisitions also preserve the stories and tangible evidence about the lives and day-to-day community of the people that have resided in this area over at least the last 12,000 years including indigenous ancestors of the Tohono O’odham, Pascua Yaqui, and Hopi, Spanish missionaries, and territorial settlements. Today, they sustain current cultural interests such as continued practice of tribal rights and traditions, outdoor recreation, ranching, and management of natural resources to improve ecological conditions.  

    Our conservation lands are integral to the community’s well-being and our economic development potential. They are the direct result of locally led and designed plans and programs informed by science, shaped by considerable community input, and include measurable targets. Benefits accrue to the community at both the individual level and community-wide scale. They are also investments in the region’s recreation and tourism industries as well as providing public and private development with significant regulatory relief. The acquisition of conservation land is important to realizing the balance envisioned by the SDCP and is synonymous with economic development. The information contained in the new report provides background that can help guide future County conservation acquisition efforts.