Sunday, October 31, 2010

Land preserves add 3,139 acres

The size of land preserves in Phoenix and Scottsdale jumped considerably last week when the cities successfully bid on a total of 3,139 acres of state trust land for conservation.

The back-to-back auctions generated more than $69 million for the Arizona State Land Department, which will use the funding for public schools.

The cities are also looking to acquire additional state trust land for their preserves next fall, but their plans hinge largely on land values and a Nov. 2 ballot measure that seeks to sweep conservation funds.

Proposition 301 asks for voter approval to take the remaining balance from the state's Land Conservation Fund and transfer it into the general fund. The measure is touted as a way to balance the state's budget.

Scottsdale and Phoenix tapped tens of millions of dollars in the Arizona Growing Smarter conservation funds to cover half the purchase price of their respective bids on Oct. 15. The cities hope to draw on more funding next year, depending on the outcome of Proposition 301.

Phoenix was the lone bidder on 1,139 acres a mile south of the Carefree Highway and 4 miles east of Interstate 17. Peters said a multiuse path will be built on the land, which runs between Seventh and 24th streets and Dove Valley and Lone Mountain roads, and will be part of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.

A Growing Smarter grant will cover half the purchase price of $25.8 million. The remainder will come from sales-tax proceeds from the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative.

At Friday's auction, Scottsdale acquired 2,000 acres in the Granite Mountain area of northern Scottsdale, expanding its McDowell Sonoran Preserve by more than 12 percent.

A grant from Growing Smarter will cover half of the $44.1 million purchase price. The remainder will come from money from two city sales taxes.

by Beth Duckett The Arizona Republic Oct. 23, 2010 12:00 AM

Land preserves add 3,139 acres

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