Scottsdale is national leader in land set aside for parks, preserve

[Source: Peter Corbett, The Arizona Republic]

Scottsdale ranks among the nation’s leading cities for parks and preserve land.

The city is fourth in per capita parkland behind Anchorage, Alaska, New Orleans and Virginia Beach, Va., according to a Trust for Public Land report issued earlier this month.

“It’s a very impressive system,” said Peter Harnik, director of the trust’s Center for City Park Excellence, in reference to Scottsdale’s parks and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The non-profit trust, a San Francisco-based conservation group, lists Scottsdale as having 15,172 acres of park and preserve land for its 235,371 residents.

That amounts to 64.5 acres per 1,000 residents, more than triple the per capita median for other low-density cities.

About 13 percent of the land area of Scottsdale is set aside for parks and preserve. The national median for low-density cities is 5.8 percent.

Phoenix’s 1.5 million residents have 43,609 acres of parkland, or 27.8 acres per 1,000 residents, the report said.

Anchorage has a very large state park within its city limits, and New Orleans and Virginia Beach contain national wildlife refuges that skew their parkland totals, Harnik said.

City parkland well-funded

The trust’s annual report compiled statistics on park acreage, spending and staffing based on data from 2008.

“We won’t see the full effects of current budget cuts until next year’s report,” Harnik said.

This year’s report did show that Scottsdale is also among the cities with the best-funded parks systems.

The city’s operating and capital expenditures in fiscal year 2008 are listed at $50.4 million, or $214 per resident. That ranks Scottsdale third behind Washington, D.C., and Seattle.

Excluding capital expenses, Scottsdale’s operating costs of $23.7 million, or $101 per resident, rank it 16th nationally in the report.

Scottsdale ranks 13th in staffing, with 281 non-seasonal employees, or 11.9 per 10,000 residents, more than double the national median of 5.4.

Preserve to add open space

Scottsdale’s preserve accounts for roughly 94 percent of its parklands, and the preserve is expected to add more acreage next month.

City parks total 941 acres with just less half of that planted with grass, said Don Davis, Scottsdale parks and recreation manager.

The Arizona State Parks Board last week authorized up to $25 million in matching funds for Scottsdale to buy 2,000 acres of state trust land at auction on Oct. 15.

The board also approved $20 million in matching funds for Phoenix and $7 million to Coconino County for preserve lands.

The Scottsdale acreage is north of Dixileta Drive near Troon North.

Scottsdale likely to bid on state trust land for preserve

[Source: Peter Corbett,]

Scottsdale is expected to be among the bidders next month for 2,000 acres of state trust land that has been appraised at $44.1 million.

The Arizona State Land Department has scheduled an auction Oct. 15 for the acreage in the Granite Mountain area of northern Scottsdale.

It is a desert area northeast of Troon North between the alignments of Lone Mountain Road and Dixileta Drive and roughly between 96th to 130th streets.

The property is zoned for single-family homes on lots of about 5 acres with other environmental restrictions.

Kroy Ekblaw, Scottsdale preserve director, said the city and the State Land Department have not had any contact with builders interested in bidding on the trust land.

The undulating terrain includes thick stands of desert vegetation, washes and exposed boulder outcropping, he said.

“There are challenges with development in bringing water and sewer services to the area,” Ekblaw said.

Scottsdale has long targeted the area for its McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The city applied this summer for a grant from Arizona’s Growing Smarter conservation fund to split the cost of the state land, which is priced at $22,043 per acre.

Awaiting grant approval

Last month, the Conservation Acquisition Board, an advisory panel of the Arizona State Parks Board, recommended approval of a matching grant for Scottsdale of up to $25 million.

The Parks Board is scheduled to decide on the grant at its Sept. 15 meeting.

It also will decide on matching grants for Phoenix and Coconino County for land conservation through the Growing Smarter fund.

In a separate auction Oct. 15, Phoenix will be bidding for 1,139 acres of state trust land in northeastern Phoenix.

The parcel, appraised at $25.8 million, is between Lone Mountain and Dove Valley roads from Seventh to 24th streets.

Phoenix wants the land for its Sonoran Preserve. It is seeking to split the cost by acquiring a grant from the Growing Smarter conservation fund.

Coconino County wants funding to acquire the 2,249-acre Rogers Lake Preserve southwest of Flagstaff for $11.75 million.

That state trust land is up for auction Nov. 1.

Land fund may disappear

Scottsdale, Phoenix and Coconino County are tapping into the $123 million conservation fund before it potentially disappears.

If voters approve Proposition 301 on Nov. 2, the state will transfer what’s left of the conservation money to the general fund to balance its budget.

Conservation groups are opposing the raid on conservation funds. Voters approved the Growing Smarter initiative in 1998 to help communities buy land for conservation and to slow urban sprawl.

Scottsdale’s last acquisition for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve was in December when it paid $6.5 million at auction for 400 acres of state trust land north of DC Ranch.

The city has about 15,000 acres in the preserve with a goal to conserve 36,000 acres of desert and mountain terrain.

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Trail Training this Fall


Arizona State Parks, along with several partners including the Arizona State Parks Foundation, City of Phoenix, City of Scottsdale, and Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona, are hosting two trail trainings this October.

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Trail Design and Layout Course

October 9-10, Phoenix, AZ

Registration is $30

This two-day class in trail design starts with a half day in the classroom learning the basic concepts of trail design and layout. The afternoon is spent learning how to use a clinometer and to apply the new trail design skills to evaluate existing trails. The second day is spent evaluating an existing section of trail and laying out a new sustainable reroute. NOTE:  This is not a construction course.

Trail Design Concepts Covered:* The Three Purposes of Trails * Grade, Tread Watershed, Anchors * Measuring Grade with a Clinometer * Five Critical Rules of Trail Design * Indications of Poorly Designed Trail * Evaluating Existing Trails * Planning Trail Reroutes * Five Stages Of Trail Layout * Types of Trail Users * Positive, Negative, Seasonal and Construction Control Points * Trail Routing Considerations * Climbing Turns vs. Switchbacks * Designing For Sustainability

For more information on this training click here.

Universal Trail Assessment Process Coordinator Workshop

October 19 – 20, Scottsdale, AZ

Registration is $50

The Universal Trails Assessment Process (UTAP) provides objective, accurate information about the conditions on a trail or in outdoor environments. The assessment results can help trail users determine whether a trail meets their interests and abilities. Land managers can also use the information to identify areas where access may be limited and to determine whether a trail complies with the proposed accessibility guidelines.

This two-day workshop enables individuals to conduct accurate assessments of trails in their own community and to lead groups of untrained individuals in the completion of trail assessments. Individuals who achieve a minimum of 70% on the final written exam are also eligible to be certified by American Trails as a Trail Assessment Coordinator. To become certified, individuals must submit copies of the trail data that they have collected for a minimum of two trails, which total at least one mile in length.

For more information on UTAP click here.

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For more information on this specific training visit

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