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  • Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

    Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

    From caring for stately saguaros in Tucson Mountain Park to overseeing after-school recreation programs, we add a vital dimension to the lives of our residents and visitors. We invite you to hike and play in our parks or take one of the many classes we offer. Also take a digital virtual tour of a couple of our properties such as Canoa Ranch and Sweetwater Preserve. We're working for you!

    Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation has an online registration system. The system will allow you to register for leisure classes, Canoa Ranch tours, bird walks, nature hikes and other activities. You can also reserve a ramada for your next event. You’ll need to create an account to use it. You may also purchase an annual Tours and Outdoor Activities Membership Pass for significant savings on activity registration fees.

    Come celebrate Arizona’s Birthday at the 29th annual Ted Walker Youth Day at Old Tucson. This year’s event will focus on Arizona history and Arizona’s 107th birthday. This FREE educational opportunity is now open to 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes. The event will be held on Thursday, February 7, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Notices and Closures

    View Notices and Closures

    Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Memorial Bench Program

    Oval PlaqueNatural Resources, Parks and Recreation (NRPR) partners with Parklands Foundation to give residents and park users the opportunity to purchase and donate a park bench in remembrance of friends and family. The cost of the bench and plaque including delivery:

    a. Concrete bench with plaque or etching, $1,344 with a 
        $75 installation fee.
    b. Concrete bench with ceramic color tile, $1,500 with a 
        $75 installation fee.
    c. Metal bench with plaque, $2,050 with aengraved bench
        $75 installation fee.  

    To purchase and donate a memorial bench:

    1. Submit a Memorial Bench Application Form to NRPR.

    2. NRPR submits request to vendor for a quote and layout of the engraving.

    Rectangle Plaque3. Upon approval of quote and plaque, NRPR requires purchaser to send 2 checks: 1st check is made out to Pima County Parklands Foundation for the bench and the 2nd check is made out to Pima County for the $75 installation fee.

    4. It takes about 90 days to order, ship and install the bench. 

    Once the bench is delivered to our warehouse, NRPR will meet with purchaser on site to determine the exact
    placement and location of bench in the park.

    EtchedFor any questions, please contact Valerie Samoy at 520-724-5220. Agua Caliente Park is NOT accepting memorial bench requests at this time.

    Thank you in advance for participating in this program. These memorial benches help meet the needs of our park users and greatly enhance the beauty and function of our parks.

    Memorial Bench Application Form

    Pima County Parklands Foundation

    In 1987, a group of concerned volunteers founded the Pima County Parklands Foundation. Its mission is “to protect and enhance the parks of Pima County, Arizona: this includes funding park improvements, the acquisition of parklands, and the enhancement and enlargement of recreation programs.”

    Through the Foundation, an individual or group can make a gift or cash donation to the county park of their choice. The Pima County Parklands Foundation is an all-volunteer organization, so donations are directed exactly as the donor wishes. Donations are tax-deductible, within the limits of the law.

    Organization Mission and Programs

    For more information, http://pimaparklands.org/Pima County, Arizona established its Parks and Recreation Department in 1947 to serve urban and rural residents and guests by providing leisure-time destinations and services. As the rapidly growing community has stretched public funds thinner and thinner, parks have often come last in line. 

    So, in 1987 a group of concerned volunteers founded the Pima County Parklands Foundation. Its mission is "to protect and enhance the parks of Pima County, Arizona: this includes funding park improvements, the acquisition of parklands, and the enhancement and enlargement of recreation programs."

    Operating Programs

    One of the Pima County Parklands Foundation's vital functions is accepting donations earmarked for a specific park or recreation program and routing them where the donors intend and augmenting donations when more funds are needed. These requests can be as diverse as installing benches in a park, constructing an enclosed run for dogs, or providing after-school snacks for underprivileged children at a local community center.

    Every summer the Foundation sponsors a free swim program, offering swims and lessons in County pools to thousands of children whose families can't afford to pay for them. And every February it sponsors an all-day outing to Old Tucson Studios-a local attraction as well as a County leased property-for over 4,000 Tucson schoolchildren.

    Additional Comments

    The Pima County Parklands Foundation is an all-volunteer organization, so donations are directed exactly as the donor wishes. Donors may earmark contributions for specific uses, such as improvements in neighborhood parks, enhancement of recreation programs, or acquisition of land for existing or new parks.

    In the case of a gift of land, the donor may make restrictions on how the land is to be used. Such requests will be scrupulously observed. The Foundation can also work with donors to establish lifetime living arrangements or conservation easements on land bequeathed for parkland.


    Donations are tax-deductible, within the limits of the law. For more information, call (520) 241-8885 or email mhellon@aol.com. To make a donation via PayPal go to http://pimaparklands.org/  

    Checks can be mailed to:
    Parklands Foundation
    3500 W. River Rd
    Tucson, AZ 85741
    Pima County gets a number of questions regarding The Chuck Huckelberry Loop.  These questions and responses have been organized by category with the goal of addressing constituent concerns.

    General Questions

    What is The Loop?

    The Loop is a system of paved, shared-use paths and short segments of buffered bike lanes built on top of soil cement banks along metro waterways and connecting the Rillito, Santa Cruz, and Pantano River Parks with the Julian Wash and Harrison Road Greenways.

    Why was it built?

    After the significant flooding in the Phoenix area in the late 1970s, the state Legislature required counties to create special taxing districts to raise money for the construction of regional flood control improvements. Pima County began building soil-cement bank protection along the Rillito and Santa Cruz Rivers after the massive 1983 floods.

    How did that lead to the multi-use paths?

    Nearby residents were using the unpaved maintenance access paths on top of the banks to walk their dogs, go for a run or ride their bikes. The County started building river parks with improved paths on top of the banks, including pavement. By 1986, a paved section along the Rillito from Campbell Avenue east to Oracle Road was completed. This river park became hugely popular with hundreds of people using it every day. 

    How long is the Loop?

    Many of the rivers have paths on both banks. Thus, when both banks plus connecting paths are included The Loop totals about 131 miles.
    When did the Loop become a real loop? In January 2018, the County completed a connection on the south bank of the Rillito River Park between Glenn Street and Tanque Verde Road that connected the Rillito to the Pantano River Park.

    What is the distance of that main loop?

    Connecting the Santa Cruz River Park with the Rillito, Pantano, Harrison Greenway and Julian Wash as a complete circle is 53.9 miles.

    How do I get on the Loop?

    There are dozens of places to access the Loop. To find the one closest to you, visit the Loop website pima.gov/theloop and click on the “Maps” tab. There you will find links to a Loop map in PDF form as well as an interactive map. The site also lists locations where you can pick up maps.

    Where can I find a restroom on the Loop?

    As of March 2018, the Loop had 15 restrooms found on the path and 20+ adjacent parks with facilities.  You can use the Loop Interactive Map to find a restroom facility in the area of use.  You also can check the printed Loop map by looking for the icons.

    User etiquette and guidelines

    How do I know which way to go on the Loop?

    As with vehicles, you should stay on the right and pass on the left. Cyclists should announce their intent to pass by calling out “passing” and ringing a bell if they have one.

    Why do you have cyclists and pedestrians both go in the same direction?

    National guidance by the Federal Highway Administration indicates that pedestrians should walk on the right in the same direction of bicycle traffic when using off-street, shared-use pathways. In addition, other pathways within the region such as the Santa Cruz path, the Old Spanish Trail path, and the David Bell path around Reid Park have provided guidance since the 1980s for pedestrians to walk on the right in the same direction of bicycle traffic.

    I’m a pedestrian. It appears some cyclists ride much too fast on the Loop. What can be done about this?

    Most users abide by the Loop guidelines found on the Loop website. These signs are strategically being placed at a majority of our heavily-accessed entry points to promote courtesy guidance and encourage better behavior on trails. As a walker, you may be interested using the soft paths that run parallel to our asphalt trail.  You may find these locations using the Pima County Loop Interactive Map and search in the Legend to find River Park Trails / “Soft”. These paths are more conducive to pedestrian use and dog walking. 

    Please note, though, that if you feel your safety is threatened, call 911 and report it.  Law Enforcement has assured us that this is the appropriate thing to do even though some of us would not typically classify these things as an “emergencies” warranting such a report.  Although this type of report may not yield any type of citation, it will underscore with Law Enforcement that our citizens feel their safety is at risk and that additional patrols may be appropriate to mitigate potential hazards.

    Second, please report the incident using the Loop Feedback Form with as much detail as possible so we can record the nature of the offense and where/when it occurs. This information allows us to determine if patterns exist and, if they do, we can take certain actions. Those actions include directing our limited patrol and enforcement resources (via the Pima County Sheriff’s Office) into specific locations at specific dates or times, increasing educational or warning signage in select locations, or in some cases looking into developing capital improvements (path widening, traffic calming measures) into those areas if funds become available. Additionally, we do ask people to take notice and report any identifying characteristics about the offending entity or entities to us. This could include taking and sending a photo.  Sometimes a group of similarly clad individuals may have identifying markings on their outfits that can be useful to us in order to track down the offending entity allowing us to target our educational efforts in a particular direction.

    Third, every Loop user needs to be aware that there will always be people who will not comply with our guidelines (as much as we try to inform them) and therefore be watchful and aware of their surroundings and be prepared for the unexpected. That is the tough reality of using a multiuse pathway but is critically important for every user’s personal safety.

    What do I do if I’m on my bike and encounter a horse?

    Slow down and ask equestrians if it’s safe to pass. Don’t ring your bell – it spooks horses.

    Can I get on the Loop whenever I want?

    The Loop is open from dawn to dusk. Night time use is prohibited.

    Can I walk my dog on the Loop? Does he have to be on a leash?

    Absolutely to both questions! It’s extremely dangerous, particularly for cyclists, if an unleashed dog darts out in front of them. Pets must be kept under control, not cross the center line, and on leashes less than 6-feet length at all times. Please be sure to bring a bag to clean up your pet’s waste.

    What do I do if I see a Loop user who isn’t following the guidelines?

    The Loop is a shared-use path, with emphasis on the word “shared.” Take a walk or bike ride along the Loop and you’ll likely encounter fellow pedestrians and cyclists as well as roller-bladers, joggers, dog walkers, parents pushing strollers and the occasional equestrian. 
    The County has installed numerous signs reminding users of safety etiquette. You can also share your concerns by emailing the Loop Advisory Committee, which has been charged with addressing general user concerns. 

    Can I ride my motorcycle or electric bike on the Loop?

    No. The Loop is a multi-use path; therefore, no motorized vehicles or devices are allowed. (ADA accessibility and official vehicles are exempt.) The Loop moves between the city of Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley and unincorporated sections at various locations along the path. In 2006, the city passed an ordinance, Tucson Code, Chapter 5, Article II, Section 5-7 (b), prohibiting all motorized bicycle(s) or tricycle(s) on any public sidewalk, multi-use path, and shared-use path or on any designated pedestrian path in any public park. Applying this guideline for all stretches of the Loop retains a level of needed consistency and promotes the safety and well-being of all users. Equally, for safety purposes, this guideline applies to any and all motorized or artificially-propelled devices (ebikes, scooters, hover boards, skateboards, etc.). Pima County is working toward proposing a comprehensive County Code that would prohibit use on any stretch of The Loop and be an enforceable regulation. 

    What other rules govern use of the Loop?

    See the “Complete List of Loop Guidelines.” 


    Who takes care of cleaning up the Loop?

    Pima County Regional Flood Control District (RFCD) has funded and built the Loop within our river park system as a recreational amenity for community use.  Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation (NRPR) is under contract with RFCD to provide maintenance service to the Loop path, landscaping, restrooms and adjacent parking lots.  

    How do I contact them if I spot debris in the path or some other issue?

    Report the incident using the Loop Feedback Form. Try to be as specific as possible on the location of the issue you spotted. You also may report it via the Loop’s Facebook page.

    Who do I contact when I see homeless individuals camping along The Loop or in a county park?

    Report the incident using the Loop Feedback Form. Try to be as specific as possible on the location of the issue you spotted. You also may report it via the Loop’s Facebook page.

    How do county officials handle homeless issues?

    All are welcome on park property unless they’re breaking park rules. If homeless individuals remain on property after park hours, then they’re in violation and law enforcement can cite/remove. NRPR’s protocol is to:

    Construction and Improvements

    Where do I suggest improvements to the Loop?

    A Loop Advisory Committee was established in 2017 to address user concerns and look at future improvements to the pathway. Email the committee chair or share your suggestions using the Loop Feedback Form.

    Have you thought of installing mile markers along The Loop?

    The entire trail is marked via GIS mapping on the Pima County-Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Loop Interactive map.  

    This map has many fields and features including mile markings down to .25 miles.  Part of the problem with physically marking all stretches of the Loop is the fact it follows several water courses (Santa Cruz, Rillito, CDO, Julian Wash, Pantano, etc.) in several jurisdictions (Marana, Oro Valley, City of Tucson, City of South Tucson, Pima County). Likewise, many sections of the path are only on one side, not both sides, of the riverbed. The Loop Advisory Committee meets several times a year and has continued to debate the topic of marking the path. Many of the existing directional signs give good measurement to points of reference.   

    Where can I find the latest construction and maintenance updates?

    You can find these under “Notices and Closures” on the Loop website, the Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation website or on the Loop Facebook page.

    How do I make a donation to improve The Loop or fund a memorial bench?

    The Parklands Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps protect and enhance the parks and riverparks in Pima County. Visit their website at: pimaparklands.org.
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    Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation

    3500 W. River Road
    Tucson, AZ 85741

    (520) 724-5000

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