On the same day the National Park Service celebrated its 100th anniversary, The Trust for Public Land, with the support of philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss, donated 282 acres to the Saguaro National Park. The donation, which includes part of Rincon Creek, is located on the east side of the National Park and adds a critical water resource to the park area.
The property was originally purchased in 2004 by Wyss to protect it from development. In 2014, Wyss donated the property to The Trust for Public Land, with the understanding that the non-profit organization would eventually add it to Saguaro NP.
“There is no better way to celebrate the Centennial of our national parks than by protecting this remarkable, rare, and rugged area of the Sonoran Desert,” said Wyss. “This milestone in the protection of the Saguaro National Park is a proud example of how we can continue to enhance America’s tradition of conserving lands and waters for the use and the enjoyment of all.”
Since 2015, The Trust for Public Land and NPS have revised the park’s boundary to permit the park to include the land.
Saguaro, one of the only national parks to border a metropolitan city, is known for its saguaro cacti, a universal symbol of the desert Southwest.
“Saguaro National Park is 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. “We are honored to provide this gift to the National Park Service on its centennial and to help protect this valuable piece of land from development for generations to come.”
The addition to the park includes cottonwood, willow and mesquite Bosque, and also protects wildlife corridors for desert tortoise, large carnivores, mule deer, Gila monsters and other unique Sonoran Desert species. The land has a high level of bat and bird diversity and will provide some of the most important bird habitat in the park.
The addition to the park is likely to eventually be opened to the public, but that date is unknown because the park has to go through a planning process. It could be open for hiking, bird watching, and archeological research. It may also provide access to the Arizona Trail, which runs from Mexico to the border of Utah, and passes along the boundary of the land.
“Saguaro National Park is grateful for the donation of this unique parcel of land along Rincon Creek which includes the picturesque Sentinel Peak. Ensuring the protection of this rare creek corridor will help to protect habitat for species such as the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. We are pleased to accept this on the Centennial of the National Park Service,” said Ray O’Neil, Acting Superintendent of Saguaro National Park.
In 1993, The Trust for Public Land purchased an adjacent 1,100 acres of land for the park, which included more than a mile of the Arizona Trail.
It is appropriate the transaction closed on the NPS’ centennial. The Trust for Public works on projects nationwide with the NPS, and is pleased to provide the gift on the 100th birthday. The Trust for Public Land joins people across the country in celebrating the work of the Park Service to protect land for future generations.