Neighbors disagree over the future of BLM land west of Maricopa, land that has been marked for Palo Verde Regional Park. Photo by Ethan McSweeney

Pinal County is asking for more feedback on a proposed regional park that had quietly moved through the planning stages for years before turning into a political lightning rod this year.

The Pinal County Open Space and Trails Department is asking the public to review and comment on the Palo Verde Regional Park Draft Master Plan and Preferred Alternative.  Comments will be accepted through Nov. 10.

“We’ve had tremendous public input throughout the planning process, including almost 850 comments related to the four alternatives presented to the public in July,” Pinal County Open Space and Trails Director Kent Taylor said.

The proposed Palo Verde Regional Park is 21,900 acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management land, stretching from Interstate 8 to Highway 238 in the Hidden Valley area west and south of Maricopa.

“I am pleased that we have seen so much input from the public regarding Palo Verde Regional Park,” said Anthony Smith, vice chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors. “The passion for different plans for the park has made this a good example of local residents taking an interest in what is happening around them. We continue working to come up with a plan that is realistic and favored by the residents of this county.”

Some county residents near the land in question don’t want the land touched and turned it into a campaign issue in an effort to unseat Smith. The Pinal County Open Space and Trails Department offered four alternatives, ranging from no management to highly developed.

In October, the department presented the alternative it felt best represented residents’ opinions – moderate change. It includes management of non-motorized trails, motorized trails, equine uses, shooting sports, picnic areas and a disc golf range.

Visit to review and comment on the draft plan.

This article appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.