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Open Space

Granite DellsThe Parks and Recreation Department manages many natural areas that have come into public ownership through various mechanisms. Some of these areas provide for a range of passive (i.e., undeveloped) recreational activities to include hiking, running, mountain bicycling, horseback riding, nature study, birding, wildlife viewing, rock climbing, water-based recreation, and geocaching. Visit the Trails section of this webpage for information on access to these special areas.

The below information represents some of the major milestones, purchases, donations, and land exchanges since the 1980s regarding Prescott’s natural areas and parklands (a.k.a. open space). Many of these milestones have been joint ventures with Open Space Alliance of Central Yavapai County, Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance, Yavapai Trails Association, Prescott Alternative Transportation, Prescott Creeks, Central Arizona Land Trust, Prescott Audubon, The Trust for Public Land, and Granite Dells Preservation Foundation.

Open Space Milestones

2011
By mid-2011, 11 miles of trails have been constructed in the Granite Dells (i.e., as part of the Mile-High Trail System)
Trails are completed in rodeo grounds open space, with some alignments using historic trails.
Members of the former (disbanded) Mayor’s open space advisory committee create the new 501 ©(3) non-profit Granite Dells Preservation Foundation.
2010
Significant trail construction completed within Granite Dells, new maps are created using GPS’d alignments, and much promotion occurs.
City completes the long-awaited downtown land exchange with Arizona Public Service Company to add acreage to Prescott’s Greenways (linear open space).
2009
City purchases 80-acre James parcel for $4,018,067. This property now features the new and scenic Constellation (recreation) trail system that originates near the Phippen Museum (along SR89).
City purchases 14-acre parcel Beurie parcel for $842,707. This purchase brings the entire shoreline of Willow Lake into public ownership, and allows for a future trail to encircle the lake.
City purchases 1.5-acre Gardner parcel for $182,443. This purchase conserved more of the 32-acre hill east of Thumb Butte.
City purchases six-acre Green Family parcel in Granite Dells for $365,687.
Trail construction begins in Granite Dells region (in association with both lakes).
City completes and dedicates phase II of Prescott’s greenways on National Trails Day in June.
New Open Space Master Plan is completed and adopted.
2008
City purchases 35-acre Granite Gardens / Hazelwood parcel in Granite Dells for $3,056,344. This property, formerly known as the location for the “400 Club”, has been restored and revegetated by Biozone, Inc., and continues to feature popular climbing routes.
2007
City prepares (i.e., using bed tax revenues), dedicates, and re-opens Community Nature Center to school groups, and general public on weekends. The log cabin built in 1976 by Youth Conservation Corps now serves as the visitor center for the property.
A purchase for $905,281 and associated land exchange for Prescott Rodeo Grounds with Yavapai County transfers associated open space to City ownership.
City purchases 8.7-acre Hisakota parcel in Granite Dells north of Willow Lake for $527,181.
The area formerly known as the Dalke Petroglyphs and additional open space is conserved within the Enchanted Canyon Subdivision through the development process.
City completes securing all rights-of-way along phase I & II of Prescott’s greenways through 14 donated easements, and land exchange, and land donations.
2006
City hires Chris Hosking as the City’s Trails Specialist, who proceeds in making much open space accessible via trails.
City accepts five-acre open space donation along Granite Creek upstream of Yavapai-Prescott Indian Reservation (value undetermined).
City purchases 18-acre Community Nature Center from Prescott Unified School District for $1,813,521.
City annexes Boyle/DeBusk Open Space Preserve into City, and rezones to Natural Open Space designation.
2005
City purchases 28 acres from The Trust for Public Land in Granite Dells (i.e., also called the Payne parcel) along Granite Creek for $188,569. Central Arizona Land Trust holds the conservation easement.
City completes 3.5 miles of the Willow Lake Trail providing a multi-use trail that allows (easy) family-oriented bicycling.
City accepts 2.3-acre donation valued at $14,402 of open space from Keehan on hill behind Village at the Boulders.
Mayor’s Open Space Advisory Committee develops a new open space policy that revises many recommendations from the 1999 City of Prescott Open Space Plan. This process includes refining criteria for evaluating parcels for suitability for conservation.
2004
City accepts donation along Miller Creek (linear open space) to benefit the Prescott Greenways Project.
City purchases 34 acres from Storm Ranch for $1.5 million to protect eastern shoreline of Watson Lake.
City completes land exchange along Miller Creek (linear open space) to benefit the Prescott Greenways Project.
City of Prescott and Town of Prescott Valley hold a joint grand opening of Prescott Valley’s Iron King Trail at Entro (a.k.a. Prescott & Eastern Junction) in the Granite Dells, where the two railroads connected. The Iron King Trail is Prescott Valley’s rails-to-trails project that also used federal transportation enhancement funds, and formerly the Prescott & Eastern Railroad to Mayor and Humboldt, where the Bradshaw Mountain Railroad connected to Poland and Crown King.
2003
City accepts a 9.7-acre donation valued at $525,000 (before conservation easement) near Mountain Club now known as Boyle/DeBusk Open Space Preserve in partnership with Central Arizona Land Trust, who holds the conservation easement. The property now features trails.
City accepts a 7-acre donation valued at $330,000 along White Spar/SR89 and Granite Creek now known as White Spar Creekside Preserve.
Mayor’s Open Space Acquisition Advisory Committee is formed.
2002
City begins discussions of long-term planning for open space purchases, to include using State Growing Smarter Funds.
City begins discussions on future management of open space, to include various partnerships.
Open Space Alliance and Class of 1958 contract Dufresne-Henry Planners and Architects to develop master/coordination plan for proposed 1557-acre Badger (a.k.a. “P”) Mountain Open Space Preserve. The plan captures the recreation potential of this parcel.
2001
City purchases the 32-acre hill east of Thumb Butte from two different owners for $1,673,597 (formally known as Prescott Buttes, and sometimes referred to as Butterfly Hill). This purchase was the driving force from Mayor Sam Steiger to add open space and extend (via the voters) the 1% sales tax for Streets.
City purchases 25-acre Ericksson parcel in Granite Dells north of Watson Lake for $352,678.
2000
Prescott voters approve 1% sales tax extension in May for street improvements, and add open space acquisitions.
Prescott and Prescott Valley complete Coordination Plan for proposed Glassford Hill Preserve (State Trust Land).
City completes and adopts master plan for greenways, construct phase I (i.e., trails, bridges, benches, signs, etc.), and conduct a City Council dedication.
City begins to use bed tax revenues to enhance/maintain open space parcels, beginning with construction of phase I of Prescott’s Downtown Greenways.
City completes construction of three trails within Hassayampa Golf Club, most located within private tracts of open space established through the subdivision process.
1999
Following purchases from private property owners using federal transportation enhancement monies for rails-to-trails projects, the City completes and opens the Prescott Peavine Trail on National Trails Day in June. “Peavine” was a former nickname for the Santa Fe, Prescott, and Phoenix Railway completed in 1893. The next year, the Prescott Peavine Trail becomes a National Recreation Trail.
City develops and adopts the 1999 Prescott Open Space Plan.
City petitions Arizona State Land Department to reclassify as “Suitable for Conservation Purposes” Glassford Hill – 1860 acres (in cooperation with Prescott Valley), and Badger “P” Mountain – 1557 acres (in cooperation with Open Space Alliance) through the Arizona Preserve Initiative, with the plan to use the State Growing Smarter Funds for ½ of purchases. Both petitions are successful, and both areas are temporarily reclassified.
1998
Prescott voters approve purchasing Willow and Watson Lakes and associated land base purchase for $15 million from Chino Valley Irrigation District. The bonds issued are repaid through property taxes. A citizen master plan effort follows.
Due to increased momentum and workload for trails and rails-to-trails projects, City creates Trails and Open Space Coordinator position and recruits staff person in December (Eric Smith)
1997-98
City purchases lots on face of Thumb Butte through partnership with Central Arizona Land Trust, who hold the conservation easement.
1995
City and Prescott Creeks enter in a lease establishing the 100-acre Watson Woods Riparian Preserve along SR89 and Granite Creek, essentially establishing a large open space preserve. Prescott Creeks then engages in many planning efforts, to include securing many grants for restoration efforts.
1990’s
City applies for and receives federal transportation enhancement grants for rails-to-trails purchases from a Utah landowner. More specifically, after the Santa Fe Railroad ceased to connect to Prescott and operate in early 1980s due to flood damage, most ownership changed to a railroad salvage company. Once railroad tracks were removed, the above grants made it possible to negotiate purchases as one of the few rails-to-trails projects in Arizona, and thereby creating a linear park through the scenic Granite Dells region.
1980’s & 1990's
Natural Parkland Purchases (terminology “open space” not yet used)
  • Stricklin Park
  • Acker Park
  • Acquisition of Storm Ranch parcels north of Watson Lake
  • Acquisition of Granite Dells Ranch parcels north of Willow Lake
  • Some of above included complex land exchanges

New Open Space Policy Statement

Resolutions Number 3700 was passed on August 23, 2005 by Mayor Rowle Simmons and the City Council, replacing resolution Number 3203 in its entirety.

  • Open Space Policy (pdf, 20.5 kb)
    Open Space Program Policy Statement
  • Resolution 3700 (pdf, 10.1 kb)
    Passed on August 23, 2005 by Mayor Rowle Simmons and the City Council replacing Resolution 3203.