TUCSON, Arizona — A land bridge now connects the Sweetwater Preserve to the Saguaro National Park in the West Tucson Mountains. The 64 acres of land was purchased by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) from the Norman and Eleanor Willock Trust of Tucson for $1.15 million ($18,000 per acre). The property borders the Saguaro National Park West on the westside and Sweetwater Preserve on the east, with rolling topography, mature cacti, scenic peaks, all withing close proximity to central Tucson.
Tom DeSollar with Arizona First Properties represented the seller in the transaction.“The escrow was 10 months,” said DeSollar. “The neighbors are pretty jazzed about the deal and even donated some land towards the project. The animals are happy too!”
The buyer, Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, is a national, nonprofit land conservation organization specializing in conservation real estate to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness.
In 2001, Tucson Mountains Association approached TPL to figure out the best way to protect the property that was in the pathway of development. In the last five years, 23 separate residential subdivisions have sprung up in the Tucson Mountains. By November 2002, TPL had signed a purchase option agreement with the landowners.
In 2004, Pima County and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) entered into an agreement to protect the 700 acres of Sweetwater Preserve in the Tucson Mountains. The property is the largest remaining tract of undeveloped land in the Tucson Mountains and home to several vanishing wildlife species including cactus pygmy owl, desert tortoise, and Gila monster.
The property was the first purchase funded through a $174 million Pima County Sonoran Desert Open Space and Habitat Protection bond measure approved by voters in May 2004.
“TPL is very pleased to have helped protect the Sweetwater property and further the County’s effort to add these 700 acres of pristine Sonoran Desert to the Tucson Mountain Park.” said TPL’s Project Manager Michael Patrick in a written statement. “We are grateful to the Pima County Board of Supervisors and the County Administrator for their leadership in the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and to the Pima County voters who approved the large conservation bond fund that enabled protection of important open space and habitat lands like Sweetwater Preserve.”
The Tucson Mountain Association was instrumental in the effort to protect the Sweetwater Preserve and raised more than $30,000 from more than 185 individuals to help TPL and the County protect the property. Public purchase of the property received endorsements from more than fifty organizations, including the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, the Tucson Audubon Society, the Coalition for the Sonoran Desert Protection, the Southern Arizona Hiking Association, Pima Trails, and the Sonoran Institute among others.
Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.
For more information, DeSollar should be reached at 520-400-2732.