On August 24th, 2021 the escrow period for the designated 473.7 acres of core Granite Dells land closed and was officially transferred into public ownership as Natural Open Space (NOS). This successful transaction is perhaps the single most important result of the years-long negotiation process surrounding Arizona Eco Development (AED)’s proposed Development Agreement (DA) and annexation.
With the DA and annexation approved, there remains some confusion as to the specifics of what was “won” for the public in this deal. A recent Talk of the Town from Save the Dells Outreach Coordinator Kaia Hayes sets the record straight and reiterates how important a Granite Dells Regional Park & Preserve is to ensuring this incredible place remains protected as public NOS forever (excerpt below).
“Wins” for the public:
A total 473.7 acres of the 500 acres of Granite Dells land originally proposed (by Save the Dells) are transferred into public ownership as public Natural Open Space (NOS).
375 acre-feet per year (afy) of surface water rights for Watson Lake will be transferred into the city portfolio, with potential to retain an equivalent volume for recharge and recreation.
There is one grade-separated road crossing of the Peavine Trail instead of five at-grade crossings originally proposed.
No houses in the Point of Rocks area or along the Peavine Trail south of No-Name Creek wildlife corridor, avoiding the construction of almost eight miles of roads.
A less impactful location for the resort compared to the original location between Point of Rocks and Easter Peak.
The Boblett Grave and homestead is protected within the boundary of the NOS.
With an incredibly successful primary election behind us and the AED Annexation unrolling, Save the Dells will be spending the next few months working toward some equally important next steps:
- Garnering support and momentum for the next steps in the creation of a Granite Dells Regional Park & Preserve.
- Ensuring that planning for recreational development of the new open space balances improved access with protection of wildlife habitat.
- Supporting opportunities for greater regional collaboration on Quad Cities and Yavapai County issues.
- Continuing to work with and promote community groups like Citizens Water Advocacy Group and Granite Dells Preservation Foundation in their work with important regional issues like sustainable water management and open space conservation.
Photo by Walt Anderson