Pima County

Evan Pilling, left, Martha Lemen, center and Mary Reynolds, right, ride along the Wildflower Ridge Trail in the Sweetwater Preserve on August 23, 2012. The Sweetwater Preserve is comprised of 880 acres located in the eastern foothills of the Tucson Mountains. The land that is now the Sweetwater Preserve was acquired during the 2004 Open Space Bond measure.

Pima County encompasses more than 9,000 square miles of rolling desert terrain and isolated mountains covered with cedars and pines, steep canyons and abundant wildlife. The landscape is the county’s greatest asset.

Since the 1950s, the county has been a region of rapid population growth. Prior to the 1990s, growth could be measured by about 15,000 new residents a year, which translated each year into 10 square miles of development. The open spaces were shrinking, and the extraordinary landscape that had drawn so many from congested urban centers around the country was itself falling victim to urban sprawl.

We’re good at bouncing back. Over a period of roughly 40 years, the potential loss of habitat and scenic landscapes gave rise to a community with a strong conservation ethic. No one doubted we would continue to grow; the question became how to do it without destroying what had drawn us here in the first place.

By 2000, the solution was expressed as Pima County’s landmark Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, a blueprint that defined those lands most important to preserve and those that could be developed. It was a transformational idea that attracted national attention as a model for other regions; eventually, even the local growth industry praised and used it in marketing campaigns to promote the proximity of new developments to protected open spaces. Pima County and the greater Tucson metropolitan area would remain where people wanted to live or spend their vacations.

As a region our focus would remain on the great natural beauty for which we had become stewards.  

The cactus forests, the desert valleys and those rare desert streams, our riparian corridors became not only biological treasures, but important ingredients to our economic success in the world of geotourism.

Today, many of the attractions that draw the most visitors are all located on county land. Catch a game or a concert at Kino Sports Park, the area’s largest sports and entertainment venue.

More recently, Pima County created “The Loop,” an ever expanding non-motorized bike and pedestrian path that will gradually link 77 miles around the urban area from Tucson to Marana and Oro Valley.

If you’re looking for inspiration, come see what Pima County has to offer.

County facts:

• Population: 980,263

• Households: 442,484

• Median home value: $198,300

• Median household income: $45,521

• Per capita income: $25,093

• Land area in square miles - 9,187.04

• Person per square mile - 106.7

History Lesson: The largest of four:

Pima County, the second largest of the four original Arizona counties, was created in 1864 and included approximately all of southern Arizona acquired from Mexico by the Gadsden Purchase. European settlement of the region goes back to the arrival in the 1690s of the Spanish.

About the middle of the 18th century, silver and gold were discovered in the region and prospectors from Mexico entered the area in droves.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.