In an area facing rapid growth and urban sprawl, each year dozens of environmental groups fight to preserve the north East Valley’s open space characteristics.
Facing what these groups consider as a time crunch, several local environmental groups have combined efforts in an attempt to more swiftly conserve the region’s remaining open space areas.
“Land is being developed so rapidly that if we don’t all come together and agree on what our priorities are and how we’re going to pay for it all — in the end there won’t be anything left to protect,” said Mike Rigney, executive director of the Desert Foothills Land Trust, a Cave Creek-based conservation group.
The goal of the effort, called the Desert Foothills Natural Resource Initiative, is to identify overlapping goals and conservation priorities and work together to build community support for those efforts.
“We have a lot in common and we can use those common things to figure out how we can work together,” Rigney said. “Doing things together will help us plan better for the future.”
The environmental organizations include: Desert Foothills Land Trust, Black Mountain Conservancy, McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy and The Trust of Public Land.
The Tonto National Forest, Maricopa County Parks Department, towns of Cave Creek and Carefree and the city of Scottsdale have also attended meetings and provided information.
The partnership makes sense for these areas because they all put a high priority on open space, said Carla (her legal name), executive director of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. “That’s our character. That’s what keeps us special. That’s what gives us our quality of life,” she said.
“And it’s critical to put in place plans to make sure we obtain as much of it as possible.”
One of the first steps of the partnership was to use computerized mapping technology, at a cost of $3,000, to provide a planning tool for the region’s open-space corridors. The maps were funded by Cave Creek and Carefree.
Those maps will allow the groups to analyze the area and identify critical habitats.
“Open space doesn’t stop at political boundaries,” said Carla. “Sustainable open space with wildlife corridors, watersheds, etc., covers a region, not just a particular city.”