Preserving Open Space is Vital to Cave Creek

Land preservation is the most universal virtue in Cave Creek. Much is being done at the Council level to accomplish those goals including identifying viable open space properties and acquiring them for the future. Most recently, the Town along with Maricopa County bought more than 30 acres adjoining the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area at a cost of nearly $700,000. Cave Creek maintains a ready bank balance to purchase high quality properties when opportunities arise. Currently there is $1.5 million on hand for open space acquisition.

The Town is currently in negotiations with the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD), conducting financing analyses, tracking Colorado River water negotiations, and managing real estate appraisals related to thousands of acres of ASLD holdings on the west side of Cave Creek north of Carefree Highway.

Per an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) executed in 2009 for a 20-year period of the 7700 State Land acres, about 4000 are zoned, and therefore protected, as open space. It would take a rezoning vote by the Town Council to change that zoning, which is highly unlikely given our community’s focus and desires in this regard.

Here are the facts about current ASLD efforts:

  • The land must be auctioned to the highest bidder by the state Constitution.
  • Cave Creek has a right to initiate auction of the open space in 2029.
  • The choice preservation pieces are already zoned, protecting them as open space (which forbids residential and commercial).
  • ASLD informs us there are currently no interested purchasers.
  • The Town has had several positive meetings to extend our rights and clarify the process. More are expected.
  • An appraisal is underway in consultation with ASLD to estimate the cost of purchase, although that is only one preservation option.
  • Once that appraisal is complete, all options can be evaluated, and a strategy decided.

There are likely to be future Council Agenda items and discussion of ASLD lands. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for email notifications at (click “Stay in the Know!). Good Government is all about public trust, information, and transparency. We invite you to join the open space discussion!

Submitted by the town of Cave Creek

Bob Morris, Mayor