The Anza Trail, previously blocked due to a five-month dispute between property owners and Pima County, has been temporarily reopened. The controversy began in August when Green Valley resident Scott Kirkland closed off a portion of the trail passing through private property, citing concerns such as trespassing, motorized vehicle traffic, and privacy issues. While the county intervened in November to remove illegal fencing, the issue persisted as Kirkland erected more barriers and rerouted the trail on his property.
Property Boundaries and Fencing
Kirkland’s property extends from South Abrego Drive, east through the Santa Cruz River, encompassing a metal fence circling the area up to the riverbank. Despite the county asserting the existence of a longstanding, recorded easement for the trail, Kirkland disputes its validity, claiming it was never recorded and is therefore invalid. His actions have blocked hikers from using what the county considers a lawful easement.
Recent Developments and County’s Response
Deputy County Administrator Carmine DeBonis recently met with Kirkland to discuss the ongoing dispute. While acknowledging Kirkland’s recent alterations to the area, DeBonis emphasized that the county is monitoring the situation and has not identified any violations of floodplain ordinances. The county plans to send a letter to Kirkland and other affected residents during the week of Jan. 29, urging the removal of the fences and scheduling a meeting within the next one to two weeks.
Motorized Traffic Concerns and Trail Access
Residents in the area have reported motorized vehicles on the trail to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. To address this concern, the county has placed trail cameras in the area and conducts intermittent inspections. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the Anza Trail, and the county aims to collaborate with residents to find solutions that ensure trail accessibility while restricting unauthorized motorized use.
Looking Ahead: Mitigating Concerns and Future Discussions
DeBonis expressed optimism about resolving the dispute through ongoing discussions with residents. He emphasized the need to find common ground and address residents’ concerns about motorized traffic and trail rerouting. The county plans to work with affected parties to explore alternatives that maintain public trail access while curbing unauthorized activities.
Navigating Towards a Resolution
While the reopening of the Anza Trail provides temporary relief, the ongoing dispute highlights the challenges in balancing private property rights with public trail access. Collaborative efforts between property owners and the county are crucial to finding a mutually acceptable solution that addresses concerns and ensures the long-term viability of the Anza Trail. The upcoming discussions and actions taken by both parties will play a crucial role in determining the trail’s future accessibility and usage.