Push to protect Arizona’s parks from budget cuts gains steam

[Source: Shaun McKinnon, AZ Republic, Page 1] –  Arizonans overwhelmingly support state parks and open spaces and believe such areas contribute to a region’s economic health, but few people understand how the state pays for its parks, a new survey says. That lack of knowledge could imperil a parks system already weakened by budget cuts if lawmakers don’t hear from enough voters who want open spaces protected, according to Arizona Forward, a newly organized group that commissioned the survey.

“Nothing is stronger than grass roots, with people calling their elected officials saying, ‘This is important to me, I want my parks to be open,’ ” said Diane Brossart, acting director of the group. “But I think we take these things for granted, and until there’s a crisis, people are not engaged with the issues.” [to read the full article click here].

Scottsdale, Phoenix acquire trust land for preserves

[Source: azcentral.com]

Scottsdale and Phoenix were unopposed Friday in separate bids to acquire state trust land for their respective preserves, generating more than $69 million for the Arizona State Land Department.

The department scheduled the back-to-back auctions at its headquarters in downtown Phoenix.

 

Scottsdale succeeded in its bid for 2,000 acres in the Granite Mountain area of northern Scottsdale. The cost was $44.1 million, of which half will be covered by a grant from Arizona’s Growing Smarter conservation fund.

“These dollars are really only available for this use,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, who represented the city in its winning bid. “It is perfect timing.”

Scottsdale has acquired and protected almost 18,000 acres for its McDowell Sonoran Preserve, with a goal of preserving 36,000 acres.

Phoenix was the lone bidder on 1,139 acres a mile south of the Carefree Highway and 4 miles east of Interstate 17.A Growing Smarter grant will cover half the purchase price of $25.8 million. The remainder will be paid by sales-tax proceeds from the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative, city spokesman David Urbinato said.

Voters approved the measure in 1999 that raises funds to preserve thousands of acres of state trust land and build and improve parks. Sixty percent of the money goes toward purchasing state trust land for the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve. The city has 6,688 acres in total.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to come and add to our preserve,” said Councilwoman Thelda Williams, who made the bid for Phoenix.

Money generated by the auctions goes toward funding for public schools and other entities.

 

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