Are rooftops or open space the future for the Superstition foothills?

The Superstition Foothills. (Joanne West, special to Independent Newsmedia)

Residents and visitors seeking information about the Superstition Mountains and its adjacent foothills will have an opportunity to learn more Wednesday, Dec. 12, at the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road.

Charlie Goff

Charlie Goff, Superstition Area Land Trust’s president, will discuss the challenges and opportunities inherent in a collaborative effort to conserve the foothills involving communities across the East Valley. The SALT Speakers Series presentation is 6:30-7:30 p.m. in room B-117 of the center.

“So which will it be: a sea of rooftops or an intact desert ecosystem?” according to a release.

Mr. 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.

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

The Superstition Mountains are awash with amazing geology, history, legend and intrigue, according to the release.

They were officially designated as the Superstition Wilderness Area in 1964 and are thus preserved. But the Superstition foothills, an area of primarily Arizona State Trust lands adjacent to its southern border, are unprotected and required by law to be auctioned if and when they are sold.

Revenue 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, according to the release.

Conserving the foothills’ open spaces was the rationale for creating the Superstition Area Land Trust 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,” according to the release.

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, according to the release.

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, according to the release.

SALT is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Go to azsalt.org.

 

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