Granite Dells regional park & preserve | A lasting Solution
beyond the aed annexation
For the last six years of Save the Dells, our driving conservation goal has been to permanently preserve the remaining undeveloped portions of the Granite Dells (the Dells) as part of a publicly accessible Granite Dells Regional Park & Preserve.
This goal reflects the majority wishes of the Prescott community and the stated objectives of Prescott’s General Plan and Open Space Master Plan. These park lands should be preserved in their natural state as much as possible, while still allowing activities that have minimal impact such as hiking, biking, rock climbing, and horseback riding.
Our initial objective was to achieve a fair annexation deal with Arizona Eco Development (AED) that would protect as public open space approximately 500 acres currently proposed for development, including the iconic Point of Rocks, the Peavine and Iron King Trails, and an ecologically important riparian area that all interconnect with existing City of Prescott (City) open space. The 474 acres of Natural Open Space (NOS) transferred into public ownership in the July 2021 AED Annexation did just that, creating a significant anchor for a regional park & preserve.
what area is included in a park & preserve?
We see the extraordinary beauty of the recently acquired Granite Dells acreage as an important anchor of this much larger vision. The proposed park, in cooperation with Prescott Valley, would also encompass large sections of land on Glassford Hill, Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, the recently purchased Storm Ranch that abuts Glassford Hill, and sections of city land around and including Watson Lake Park and Willow Lake Park.
In May 2022, the City of Prescott, Town of Prescott Valley, and Yavapai County signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) committing to acquiring Arizona State Trust Lands in the vicinity of Glassford Hill.
a regional oasis for the people, by the people
The park and preserve will be more than an attractive and alluring piece of geography; it will provide critical, contiguous sanctuary habitat for threatened wildlife protected from the increasingly dense urbanization of our county, an interpretive center for visitors to learn the natural history of the region, and miles of trails designed by Prescott's own Chris Hosking and the Over the Hill Gang. From a city perspective, the park would put the Quad Cities on the map, generating tourist revenue from state-wide and national visitors and making it unmistakably clear that our communities value and support this kind of planned open-space development.
A park and preserve has immense sociological significance, allowing people of different backgrounds and socio-economic and political differences to walk the same trails and broaden their understanding of their community. Quad cities folks long separated by geography will have the opportunity to mingle with their neighbors and discover how much we share in common. In a changing world, the Granite Dells can continue to offer an escape to visitors and residents alike for generations to come.
Let's make sure the dells never need saving again.
Without a permanent solution, the Granite Dells land in the public Natural Open Space portfolio is at risk of being re-assigned a different use designation or even SOLD to private or commercial entities by a future city council who may not share public values of conservation and open space preservation.
The time is now to cement this legacy for people, wildlife, and community by pursuing protective actions such as working with a land trust to create conservation easements on this land.
regional park faq
What lands are included in the proposed regional park?Thanks to good work over the years by the Prescott City Council, Open Space Advisory Committee, and open space advocates, the seeds have already been planted for an amazing regional park to grow from! The starting point would include Watson and Willow Lake Parks, Watson Woods, Constellation Trails, the Peavine and Iron King Trails, the Granite Gardens trails, and other city-owned open space parcels. Land exchange or acquisition of State Trust, County, and private lands would be authorized and pursued within the Park’s administrative acquisition boundary.
How would lands be acquired for the proposed regional park?Any remaining undeveloped lands within the administrative acquisition boundary of the regional park could be priorities for fair-market purchase, conservation easements, or deed restrictions (donations would be accepted too, of course!). Until the point that willing landowners choose to convey their lands into the park, those lands will remain in private ownership and private control.
How would a regional park be paid for?A Granite Dells Regional Park is a nationally significant opportunity for community-based conservation. This can be an “if you build it, they will come” example of smart regional planning. If the Prescott Region decides that this is what we want for the Granite Dells and surrounding lands, it won’t be hard to secure government grants, non-profit foundational support, and major philanthropic donations to support land purchases or other conservation agreements. Local, state and federal government sources of funding for community park development currently exist and would be easily secured if stakeholders and partners show a coordinated level of interest and commitment to see the plan through.
Who would benefit from a Granite Dells Regional Park?The benefits from a regional park would be instant, enduring, and sustainable for generations! This Park would better the lives of people in Prescott, Prescott Valley, and Chino Valley – residents and visitors alike – with access to healthy recreational and educational experiences in our municipalities. Our children and all future generations would be able to experience the beauty and wild western character provided by this park in the heart of a growing metropolitan region. If we choose, this Park could preserve the history of the Yavapai people who once lived in the Dells; the Prescott railroad, which is now the Peavine Trail; the Chino agricultural era, which built the Willow and Watson Dams; the old Granite Dells Resort; by-gone ranching days; and more remarkable moments in Prescott’s rich history. In addition, the park would protect essential habitat for our beloved wildlife.
Does the proposed regional park have any ecological values?Yes! The Granite Dells Regional Park is the nexus of significant wildlife corridors that connect Glassford Hill to U.S. Forest Service lands to the south and west. The Granite Creek floodplain, which is not developable, is another wildlife corridor connecting the Dells to the vast Chino Valley grasslands. Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, waterfowl, mammals, and many other species would continue to live in and thrive in the middle of a growing city.