The Oro Valley golf course transformed into a nature reserve

TUCSON, Arizona (KGUN 9) – In the heart of the Oro Valley lies a 202-acre expanse of pure Sonoran Desert. Before the desert took over, the land was once a golf course called the Golf Club de Vistoso. In 2018, the golf course closed and its owners announced their intention to develop the land.

Residents like Rosa Dailey have retaliated by going to council meetings and seeking help from the Conservation Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving land across the country. She said buying the property was a great way to fight development.

“A lot of communities have this problem, you know, you live next to a golf course, the golf course goes out of business – what do you do with the land,” she said. “And as you know, this community has started a pretty vehement battle against development, but what do you do after that.”

Mark Ford, Nevada and Southwest director of the Conservation Fund, said he came to inspect the property and said it had the makings of a large open space for wildlife and residents.

“It has potential,” he said. “First, there is wildlife and there was a hallway that showed phenomenal views of the surrounding mountains. There were even petroglyphs on the property.”

The neighborhood recently raised $1.8 million to purchase the property. Dailey said that since March 2020, the community has been working to conserve these lands.

“We’re a pretty awesome community.” Dailey said. “Over 400 households – not individuals but households, that is, more individuals – participated in the fundraiser in five weeks. It’s incredible !

Ford said it was important to keep parts of nature intact.

“Open space, clean air, clean water, wherever you are, is important to all Americans,” he said. “It resonates with them and there’s a lot of development that’s happened in Arizona and that’s a good thing – it shows the state has grown – but not every acre needs to be developed.”

The sale of the land should be concluded at the end of December. So Ford said people could start using the reserve in January.
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