Tortolita Mountain Park to grow

2013-09-20T18:15:00Z 2013-09-20T21:09:05Z Tortolita Mountain Park to growBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The western borders of the Tortolita Mountain Park will grow by another 800 acres in the coming months.

The Arizona State Parks Board earlier this week approved the county’s request for $1.3 million in Growing Smarter grant funding to expand westward from the current park boundaries.

The county, which set aside $1.23 million for the purchase, will use the grant to buy the property at auction from the Arizona State Land Department in December.

In August, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved setting aside $775,000 in development fees toward the acquisition, with the remainder coming from unallocated general funds from the last fiscal cycle.

The commissioner of the Land Department recommended earlier this year that land sell for at least $2.45 million.

Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he is pleased with the decision by the parks board, noting it coincides with ongoing economic development efforts to increase destination-based tourism.

The Arizona Office of Tourism estimates that direct travel spending generated $2.6 billion in revenue and $150.5 million in local and state tax revenues in 2012.

The county received a similar Growing Smarter grant worth $1.89 million last year, helping the agency to buy 1,415 acres of reclassified state trust land to the west and south of the park’s borders at the time.

The voter-approved Growing Smarter matching grants have largely gone to projects in Maricopa County in the past.

Of the more than the $200 million in matching funds awarded since 2001, only $4.7 million has been awarded to Pima County .

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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