McDowell-Sonoran Preserve History

On November 19, 2013, the City of Scottsdale was the successful bidder at the Arizona State Land Department auction for 2,365 acres of land in the interior of the McDowell Mountains.  The land is located along the primary ridge of the McDowell Mountains, generally south of Thompson Peak and north of Sunrise Peak. Total land area now protected by the Preserve is approximately 30,165 acres.

The City Council has also accepted the Preserve Commission’s recommendations for the next parcels to pursue and has directed staff to begin the land acquisition process with ASLD for two separate parcels of State Trust land. The proposed area in “Parcel 1” includes a planned location for a major access area to the Preserve at the northeast corner of Pima and Dynamite Roads.  Additionally, preservation of this area will link to existing Preserve land thus extending the size of the contiguous and connected Preserve north of Dynamite.

The land in “Parcel 1A” includes the western edge/embankments of the Rawhide Wash corridor which extends to the northeast off the corner of Pima and Dixileta Roads.  This area is contiguous to existing Preserve land and would improve the buffering of the wash/habitat corridor from possible future development areas.  Both parcels will enhance habitat and sustainability of the area, and expand the opportunity for passive recreational activities and appropriate planned access facilities for the northern portion of the Preserve.

The city of Scottsdale acquired 6,400 acres of land for the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve at three state land auctions on Nov 21, 2012 in which the city was the only bidder.  The city’s combined successful bids totaled $ 88.2 million – approximately $16 million of that will come from a Growing Smarter State Trust Land Acquisition Grant approved by the Arizona State Parks Board in September.  The remainder of the purchase price comes from money generated by two dedicated sales taxes approved by Scottsdale voters in 1995 and 2004.  The use of state grant funding frees additional dollars to be used on future purchases.

In April 2012 the City of Scottsdale acquired 6,800 acres of State land for inclusion in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  Planning is underway for the acquisition of an additional 6,400 acres later this year, which will link Scottsdale’s Preserve to the Tonto National Forest.

Plans for trails and public access points have been in place since 2000.