The Future of the Foothills

SALT Speaker Series: Dec. 12

The Superstition Mountains are awash with amazing geology, history, legend and intrigue. They were officially designated as the Superstition Wilderness Area in 1964 and are thus preserved. But the Superstition Foothills, an area of primarily State Trust lands adjacent to its southern border, are unprotected and required by law to be auctioned if and when they are sold. Revenues from sales of the lands themselves, their natural products or various leases and permits, are apportioned among 14 beneficiaries. The largest by far is K-12 public education.

The alternative of conserving the Foothills’ open spaces was the rationale for creating the Superstition Area Land Trust (SALT) some 25 years ago. Doing so would safeguard the natural desert ecosystem, protect watersheds and air quality, and maintain wildlife corridors. It would also preserve irreplaceable mountain views, and offer opportunities for responsible recreation with accompanying health benefits for a greatly expanding regional population.

Two earlier master planning studies – SALT’s own Superstition Area Land Plan and the much broader Superstition Vistas – pushed for creating a “buffer zone” by moving development further to the south and away from the Wilderness border. Although both were incorporated into the Pinal County Open Space and Trails Master Plan and then the Pinal County Comprehensive Plan, there is still no assurance of long-term conservation of these lands.

So which will it be: a sea of rooftops, or an intact desert ecosystem?

Charlie Goff, SALT’s current president, will discuss the challenges and opportunities inherent in a collaborative effort to conserve the Foothills, involving communities across the East Valley. The presentation will be December 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Rm. B-117 of the Apache Junction Multi-generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Rd.

The talk, part of SALT’s 2018-19 Speakers Series, is cosponsored by the Apache Junction Parks & Recreation Department. Presentations generally occur on the second and fourth Wednesdays, October through April, and are free and open to the public.

Goff, a retired biology professor, also chairs the Pinal Partnership Open Space and Trails Committee and serves on the Pinal County Open Space and Trails Commission.

SALT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. You can learn more about us, what we do, and how to join and/or contribute to our work at azsalt.org.

Photograph courtesy of Joanne West.

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