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Conservation

One of the major issues of interest in Gold Canyon is to protect our outstanding natural assets. GCCI’s community survey of 2021 identified the natural environment, dark skies, and parks and open spaces as the top three concerns among residents. A related concern is our stable water supply in the future.


We formed the Conservation Committee to work on protecting our fragile Sonoran Desert environment with its mountain vistas and large open spaces, our dark skies, and our water resources.

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Desert Conservation
Conservation work within the confines of the Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) and County development interests is a major challenge. We actively work on solutions through research, networking, representation, and advocacy:

  • We regularly attend Pinal County’s Board of Supervisor meetings to monitor for proposed local code changes and intervention opportunities. This is done in order to prevent surprises like the 2020 proposed Rivian project.

  • We stay connected to various regional conservation-related groups to keep informed about policy changes and the need for action. Our networking groups include the Superstition Area Land Trust (SALT), the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance (CAZCA), the Pinal Partnership Open Space Committee, the Superstition Region Public Land Managers group, Pinal County’s Open Space and Trails Department, and others.

  • We wrote a conservation-centered Gold Canyon Community Plan (draft in circulation for review in the fall/winter of 2023) to serve as a basis for a “special area plan” around Gold Canyon. Using base information from SALT’s 2001 Superstition Area Land Plan and Pinal County’s Open Space and Trails Master Plan, the Conservation chapter of the Gold Canyon Community Plan is supplemented with a localized list of special status wildlife species that are in need of conservation and contains eight concrete goals for conservation, each supported by specific policy recommendations.

  • These recommendations include establishing a set of ordinances for environmentally sensitive lands with natural open space requirements, similar to the Scottsdale “Hillside Ordinance.” The Hillside Ordinance eventually led to the creation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which encompasses more than 30,000 acres of protected land. We are advocating a similar process in Gold Canyon to protect the 12,000 acres of state trust land north of US 60.

  • We helped organize and participated in the successful concerted effort to relocate hundreds of cacti before they were destroyed by a new development in Entrada del Oro.

  • We entered a volunteer agreement with the newly established Peralta Regional Park.

Dark Sky Community Designation
Gold Canyon has long been an unofficial dark sky community. However, new developments are bringing increased light pollution. Therefore, we took action to anchor and preserve our
dark skies for generations to come.

  • On August 31, 2023, we submitted our 80-page application with DarkSky International to become a certified International Dark Sky Community. It took almost a year to get to this point, working with DarkSky International and other organizations in our area. 

  • On September 5, 2023, we held a community meeting on this subject with a presentation from DarkSky International.

  • We anticipate a year or two of continued discussions and adjustments before finally being official, but once we are, we will be the first community in Pinal County to obtain this status and one of only 40+ worldwide.

  • The next steps will be to boost community awareness of what elements are needed to maintain our Dark Sky Community status, collect data on our current levels of light, and show progress toward improving our Dark Sky capabilities.

  • We are working with the City of Apache Junction which is pursuing a Dark Sky Place designation, the Peralta Regional Park which is going for a Dark Sky Park designation, and the Town of Oracle which is also working on a Dark Sky Community designation.

  • We hope that eventually, the entire northern and eastern parts of Pinal County will be a place known for our dark skies.​

 

Water Resources

Water is an essential element for us to survive in our Sonoran Desert environment. Conserving the water resources we have and ensuring their future availability is critical to current and future residents of Gold Canyon.

  • We sponsored a presentation on the Central Arizona Project (CAP), which is the system that delivers water from the Colorado River. Please review the linked PowerPoint presentation for background on CAP and how it involves Gold Canyon.

  • We also hosted a presentation from our local water provider, Arizona Water Company (AWC). Their PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here.  It provides a plethora of information on our water resources, storage systems, and conservation programs available. 

  • We partnered with Arizona Water Company to create and promote the Water: "More Precious Than Gold" information campaign, a water conservation program tailored to the needs and conditions of Gold Canyon.

  • As part of this program, Arizona Water Company is making landscape and irrigation audits available to Gold Canyon HOAs at no cost or obligation. If your HOA is interested in participating, please contact Raluca Mihalcescu at Arizona Water Company, at 602-390-0356 or rmihalcescu@azwater.com.

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