State reopens Section 32 to non-motorized recreational use

‘I appreciate your … careful use of the Trust lands in question, which will someday be sold to generate revenue for the beneficiaries …’
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DESERT HILLS – Horseback riding enthusiasts were rejoicing last week after receiving notice that Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) Commissioner Vanessa Hickman signed an amended order with respect to the 2002 closure of Section 32, a 644-acre parcel between Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue, bounded by Cloud Road to the south and Joy Ranch Road to the north.

Hickman’s order reopened the section to non-motorized recreational use to individuals in possession of a valid State Land Recreational Use Permit.

Long used by area residents for horseback riding, Desert Hills resident Jackie Dean said she was surprised when the area was suddenly closed with “No Trespassing” signs posted on March 13.

Dean contacted Bill Boyd, ASLD legislative policy administrator, only to learn the closure of Section 32 was ordered in 2002 after the ASLD received a fugitive dust violation citation from Maricopa County.

After a few e-mails back and forth, community members met with Boyd last month regarding the closure and requested Section 32 be reopened.

Boyd informed them the 2002 fugitive dust violation was caused by off-road vehicle use on the property and the ASLD subsequently closed the parcel to all use.

He said sometime after that people unknowingly began using the property for non-motorized recreational use.

Because there have been no further complaints or dust violations from Maricopa County, Hickman ordered the subject lands reopened on June 4 to non-motorized use while reiterating it is still closed to any and all motorized use until further order of the Arizona State Land Commissioner.

Hickman’s order also noted “State Land Recreational Use Permits are issued by the department with the understanding that some State Trust lands are or may be closed to some or all recreational uses."

Dean said the community was so appreciative of Boyd and the ASLD giving the matter their immediate attention, knowing the closure of Section 32 seriously affected the lifestyle and property values of many area residents.

However, in Boyd’s May 24 e-mail to Dean announcing the commissioner’s decision to reopen Section 32 to non-motorized use, he wrote, “I appreciate your and the other community members’ careful use of the Trust lands in question, which will someday be sold to generate revenue for the beneficiaries, the state’s permanent common schools otherwise known as K-12 education.”

Boyd also pointed out abuse by off road vehicles, illegal dumping and other prohibited activities continue to be a problem on Trust lands and said he welcomed the community’s efforts to report any prohibited uses it may observe.

So, as area residents celebrate the reopening of Section 32 for equestrian use, they need to remain cognizant of the fact it won’t be state land forever.

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