The Trust for Public Land Acquires 44 Acres for Saguaro National Park

New Property Includes Parts of Rincon Creek, Adding Critical Water Resources to the National Park

March 22, 2017
Tuscon, AZ

Today the Trust for Public Land transferred 44 acres to Saguaro National Park. The donation is located on the east side of the National Park north of Vail, and adds a critical water resource to the park area.

The Trust for Public Land bought the land from long-term Tucson residents Scott and Kate Lewis and then sold it to the National Park Service using monies appropriated by Congress for the park from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF is funded by a small fraction of revenues generated by offshore oil and gas royalty payments; it is not supported with general taxpayer dollars.  Last year’s federal budget included $1,348,000 of funds from LWCF for land acquisitions by Saguaro National Park; this would allow the purchase from willing sellers of private lands that are located within the authorized park boundaries, particularly focused on undeveloped properties along Rincon Creek.

“As native Tucsonians growing up on the east side, we are thrilled that our mesquite bosque land with Rincon Creek will be preserved in perpetuity as part of Saguaro National Park,” said Scott and Kate Lewis.  “The Trust for Public Land has a great team of professionals doing their land conservation work in Arizona, and we really enjoyed our partnership with them in protecting our property.”

Saguaro National Park is known for its saguaro cacti, a universal symbol of the desert Southwest.

“It is always exciting to protect land in our National Parks, and Saguaro National Park is such a treasure for the people of Tucson and for visitors from across the nation,” said Michael Patrick, Arizona Program Manager at the Trust for Public Land. “The sellers of conservation lands are so important to the success of our mission, and Scott and Kate Lewis were passionate about having their property and Rincon Creek added to the park for future generations.”

The addition to the park includes a stretch of Rincon Creek with cottonwood, willow, mesquite Bosque and a significant section of sacaton grass. While the riparian habitat is the most important element for the protection of this property, it will also protect habitat for desert tortoise, large carnivores, mule deer, Gila monsters and other unique Sonoran Desert species.

This newest addition to the park is immediately adjacent to another 44-acre property that was donated to the Park Service last year by philanthropist Roxanne Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees.  The Quimby donation also contained a portion of Rincon Creek and Sentinel Butte, a prominent feature in the area.

“The National Park Service is thankful for the partnership with the Trust for Public Land and Scott and Kate Lewis for making this possible. The rich riparian corridor along Rincon Creek is critically important for the wildlife of the park, and this acquisition will help us to ensure its protection,” said Leah McGinnis, Superintendent of the Saguaro National Park.

“Saguaro National Park is a unique getaway for Tucsonans, Southern Arizonans, and visitors from around the world and is one of our State’s natural wonders.” said U.S. Representative Martha McSally, R-Ariz.  “I am pleased to see the park receive these funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which I have supported during my time in Congress.”  

Last year The Trust for Public Land donated an additional 300 acres and 1-1/2 miles of Rincon Creek to the park, made possible through the generosity of philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss.  That donated land is about a mile downstream of this new addition.  In 1993, the Trust for Public Land purchased an adjacent 1,100 acres of land for the park and is an addition that now includes more than a mile of the Arizona Trail.