Frequently asked questions (.pdf format)
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- How did the decision to limit access to the Agua Fria Conservation Area come about?
- The primary reasons the agencies decided to begin enforcing the restriction on motorized vehicle access to the Agua Fria Conservation Area are to ensure public safety and protect the natural and cultural resources. Over the past four years, the Agua Fria Conservation Area has been subject to increased:
- Illegal dumping;
- Illegal shooting;
- Off-highway vehicle use;
- Degradation of natural resources - including habitat destruction;
- Degradation of cultural sites - including petroglyphs that have been either damaged or stolen;
- Wood cutting;
- Violation of federal, state, county, local and park regulations and laws;
- Cattle on local property have been shot;
- Offensive behavior; and
- Open campfires
- What prompted the decision to enforce the Park Rule (R-107) regarding motorized vehicle access to the Agua Fria Conservation Area on July 1, 2007?
- According to Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department Park Rules, Rule-107 states the following act is prohibited in Maricopa County parks operating any motorized vehicle except on roads and parking areas designated by the Department for such purpose. This conservation area, as designed in the 1995 Plan, does not have established roads. Due to a substantial rise in illegal activity in the conservation area, all agencies have agreed that the area has become unsafe for the public and it is time to enforce the rule. Additionally, the land in the conservation area is being destroyed at a rapid and irreparable rate.
- Define “limited access”.
- What types of activities have been identified as “acceptable” for the public under the new restrictions?
- According to the Lake Pleasant Regional Park 1995 Master Plan, the following activities are allowed:
- Who owns and manages the Agua Fria Conservation Area?
- The Bureau of Reclamation owns the land; however, Maricopa County’s Parks and Recreation Department has a 50-year management agreement to manage the land. Under the original agreement, the Agua Fria Conservation Area was designated as a conservation area with limited access and development in order to preserve the riparian areas.
Conservation area, as defined in the 1995 Master Plan, are natural, environmentally sensitive areas intended to remain relatively undisturbed to preserve the native environment. No development, except natural trails, will occur in these areas. Some interpretive natural trails will be developed to allow visitors to experience the unique environment offered in the conservation areas.
- What is the short-term plan?
- The level of activity in the Agua Fria Conservation Area has increased in a way that wasn’t foreseen when the 1995 Master Plan was developed. The decision to enforce the motorized vehicle restriction may be an inconvenience to all parties involved; however, a long-term solution is currently being developed to ensure that the conservation area provides safe, pleasant and compatible recreational opportunities for all. The motorized vehicle restriction will remain in effect until a long-term solution has been developed. The public will be kept apprised as developments unfold.
- What is the long-term plan for the area?
- A concerted effort with multiple agencies to develop a long-term plan is currently underway. The 1995 Master Plan originally identified the area as a conservation area and it is the intent of the agencies to use that plan as a starting point in developing a final plan. The agencies are working on identifying recreational opportunities that the conservation area will offer.
- Public comments will be sought, encouraged and taken into consideration in developing a final plan and before implementation of any permanent solution.
- Who will be impacted by the decision?
- Anyone and everyone accessing the area legally or illegally. Last year, 443 watercraft and 2,685 autos entered the Agua Fria Conservation Area legally. These individuals may still access the conservation area as pedestrians or by boat via the main entry or north entry stations of Lake Pleasant Regional Park.
- What is the total acreage for the Agua Fria Conservation Area?
The total acreage of Lake Pleasant Regional Park is 24,425.92 acres. The total acreage of what is considered to be the Agua Fria Conservation Area is approximately 2,405.35, and this is the area that will be impacted by the vehicle restrictions. There are other conservation areas within the park boundaries; however, they are not included in this estimate.
- What will happen to individuals who don’t adhere to the closure?
- Individuals who do not adhere to the new regulations, can and will be cited by:
- Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) – MCSO will enforce both the Park and Arizona State Revised Statues rules.
- Arizona Game & Fish Department (AZGF) – AZGF will enforce Title III, Title V, Title XVII and Title XXVIII (OHV Law) and Arizona Game and Fish Statutes.
- The levels for the citations are dependent upon the illegal activity.
- Please note that the Maricopa County Park rules are Class II Misdemeanors which may lead to an arrest.
- Who should I contact for additional information?
- New developments and information will be posted at www.maricopa.gov/parks/lake_pleasant/agua_fria. Please e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (602) 372-7460.
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