County to purchase ranch for $1.5M to expand park system
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Pima County, which includes Tucson, the second largest city in the state of Arizona, is set to purchase a 5-square-mile (13-square-kilometer) ranch sprawling across the eastern slopes of the Catalina Mountains for $1.5 million and make it part of the county park system.
The county Board of Supervisors voted last month to acquire the Tesoro Nueve Ranch, which includes springs and streams. It’s surrounded by conservation properties owned by the county and its Regional Flood Control District as well as the Coronado National Forest, the Arizona Daily Star reported .
Brian Powell, with the county’s Office of Sustainability and Conservation, emphasized the value of water on the ranch.
“The property contains one of the most important springs in the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains area, and that spring supports some of the largest populations of native fishes and frogs in our area,” he said.
Julia Fonseca, environmental planning manager with the county’s Office of Sustainability and Conservation, said the site could be used to reintroduce the Gila topminnow, an endangered species.
“It’s a potential site for the water umbel,” a plant native to the Southwest, she said.
The region also is home to “other animals you might not think about,” Fonseca said, “including some unique snails. This acquisition area provides some habitat for these rare snails” such as a land snail called the talus snail.
Other native animals that could benefit from the ranch habitat include the lowland leopard frog and yellow-billed cuckoo, a federally protected species that uses riparian areas.
Closing of the sale is expected by mid-August, said Nicole Fyffe, assistant to the county administrator.
Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.tucson.com