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Pima County now owns more than 230,000 acres of open space

Pima County has been steadily buying land for the past 40 years and now owns and manages more than 230,000 acres of natural, cultural and historic areas.

About 73,000 acres were purchased for $230 million with proceeds of bond issues approved by voters in 1974, 1986, 1997 and 2004. The bonds were repaid from property tax revenues.

These details, as well as color photos of some major acquisitions and details of each bond issue, are spelled out in a new 48-page booklet titled "This Land is your Land."

Purchases include parks, greenbelts and land to protect wildlife, historic properties, archeological sites and even working cattle ranches and farms, as well as for flood control.

Major county parks include Tucson Mountain Park, Tortolita Mountain Park, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, and the Sweetwater Preserve and Cienega Creek Natural Preserve.

The booklet claims that in addition to supporting hiking, hunting and other outdoor recreation, the purchases elevate property values for those who live next to views and open spaces and help provide many tourism jobs.

And it acknowledges that not everyone is happy about the many purchases.

"The county's purchasing of land for conservation is often criticized for significantly reducing tax revenues by reducing taxable properties. However, repeated studies show this is not true," officials wrote.

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In rebuttal, the booklet estimates that 2,322 single family homes within Tucson Mountain Park gain an added value of five to 20 percent because of their views, resulting in an estimated $25 million additional property value added and $375,000 to $1.5 million in taxes paid. However,  it adds, "more detailed research is needed to refine the range applicable to the Pima County region." 

There are only a limited number of printed versions of the booklet. People can pick them up while supplies last at the information window on the first floor of the county administration building, 130 W. Congress.

Also, a number of books will be handed out at a invitation-only event Oct. 13 at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. They are being given to thank people who helped the county in its 16-year effort to acquire a special permit, known as a Section 10 permit,  from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will make it easier to protect endangered species and promote development.

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