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Sep 19, 2013 2:33 PM by Faye DeHoff

800 acres to be added to Tortolita Mountain Park

TUCSON - The Arizona State Parks Board Wednesday unanimously approved the County's $1.3 million grant request to use towards adding 800 acres to Tortolita Mountain Park.

That means when the County goes to the state trust land auction on Dec. 4 to acquire the reclassified property adjacent to the park, it will have a 50 percent match of value, kind of like getting the property for half the price.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted in early August to seek a state Growing Smarter matching grant, while using mitigation fees and excess 2012-13 general funds to acquire the additional acreage for the Park, which appraised at $2.5 million.

Established in 1986 with voter-approved bond funds, the park has grown to 5,600 acres through additional bond funds, a donation of land and a Growing Smarter grant in 2012. The park is the principal natural open space park for the northwest Tucson Basin, including Catalina and the towns of Oro Valley and Marana.

Since 2001, of the $200 million in Growing Smarter matching grant funds awarded by Arizona State Parks, Pima County has received $4.7 million. Maricopa County has received $188.9 million, with $110.8 million awarded to Phoenix and $78.1 million awarded to Scottsdale.

"We are very pleased with the decision by the State Parks Board since this will not only enhance the quality of life for our residents, but will dovetail with our ongoing economic development efforts," said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. "Visitors consistently cite the natural environment as a key attraction."

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.

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