TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A recent purchase by Pima County adds more land to expand Tortolita Mountain Park.
The purchase was made on December 4, at an Arizona State Land Department auction, of 818 acres of state trust land, which will be added to the mountain park just north of Tucson. The land was auctioned for its appraised value of $2.45 million, but Pima County did not have to shoulder the full amount. The county received a $1.225 million Growing Smarter grant from Arizona State Parks, to help purchase the land.
The Tortolita Mountain Park was established in 1986 with voter-approved bond funds. Additional bond funds, a donation of land and a Growing Smarter grant in 2012 increased the size of the park to its current 5,600 acres. The park serves as a natural open space park for the northwest Tucson Basin, which includes Catalina and the towns of Oro Valley and Marana.
Pima County's mountain parks, made up of not only Tortolita but Tucson Mountain and Colossal Cave Park - all are travel and tourism magnets that benefit the local economy.
A survey from Visit Tucson in 2012, found that visitors cite the surrounding natural environment and outdoor/desert activities as one of Tucson's greatest attractions. The Arizona Office of Tourism estimates that direct travel spending generated $2.6 billion in revenue, 22,300 direct jobs, and $150.5 million in local and state tax revenues in 2012.
In August, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved allocating $775,000 in development in lieu mitigation fees toward the acquisition, with the remainder coming from unallocated excess 2012-13 general funds.