Interior Works with Arizona Partners to Enhance Recreational Opportunities at Vulture Mountain Recreation Area in Maricopa County

Last edited 02/15/2023

Date: March 27, 2019


WASHINGTON – U.S. Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today announced the signing of a lease agreement between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors allowing the Maricopa Parks and Recreation Department to expand recreational opportunities on 1,046 acres of BLM-managed lands at the Vulture Mountain Recreation Area near Wickenburg, Arizona. The lease authorizes Maricopa Parks to develop and operate various recreational facilities, including picnic and campground areas, a nature playground, trailheads and trails, a nature center, an amphitheater, and several other amenities that will significantly improve the recreation experience for local communities and visitors.

"This project is an excellent example of Interior and the BLM working with state and local partners to increase access, expand recreational opportunities, and manage public lands for multiple uses while taking into account the long-term needs of future generations," said Acting Secretary Bernhardt. "The lease agreement signed today allows for the development and operation of various recreational facilities that will significantly enhance recreation opportunities for visitors, support local businesses, and create local jobs, all benefiting local communities."

“Public lands should be accessible and enjoyed by those who live and work closest to the land,” said Senator Martha McSally. “This agreement will strengthen our economy by creating good-paying jobs and will provide more access to our beautiful public spaces for all Arizonans to enjoy.” 

“This is not the first park we’ve managed with the BLM under an R&PP lease,” said R.J. Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department Director. “They are great partners, and our teams have been planning for this day together since 2010. Given the feedback we’ve received from the public throughout the planning process, I am confident that those who recreate in the Vulture Mountains Recreation Area will be pleased with the recreational amenities we’ll be rolling out over the next several years.”

The Recreation & Public Purposes Act of 1926 (R&PP) (as amended) allows for state and local governments to apply for the leasing of public lands for recreational and other public purposes, such as the construction and maintenance of facilities like schools, fire stations, and parks.

“The R&PP Act is a tool that state and local governments can use to apply for the leasing of public lands for purposes that benefit their local communities,” said BLM Phoenix District Manager Leon Thomas. “This R&PP lease is an example of how partners and the community  have come together to create a vision for facilities that will enhance the recreation experience on public lands. The BLM is excited about this partnership and looks forward to a collaborative management approach to the Vulture Mountains Recreation Area.”

The BLM conducted public scoping in 2017 and prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), which the BLM circulated for public review and comment. The BLM also held an open-house style meeting at the Wickenburg Community Center in December 2018. On Jan. 31, 2019, the BLM issued a modified EA, which analyzes potential environmental impacts of the lease, as well as potential impacts of a right-of-way grant to the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, for modifications to Vulture Mine Road for public safety purposes and access into the new recreation facilities. Based on the analysis in the EA, the BLM determined that the approved actions would not cause significant impacts. The BLM subsequently signed a Finding of No Significant Impact and issued a Decision Record. The Decision Record and associated documents can be found online at Vulture Mountains Recreation & Public Purposes Act Lease Project.

Out of the 1,046 acres of land to be leased, approximately 98 acres, or 9.5 percent of the total acres, will be developed. Development for the area has been divided into four phases according to the Preferred Alternative outlined in the Vulture Mountains Cooperative Recreation Management Area Master Plan and the Plan of Development submitted as part of the R&PP lease application:

  1. Park infrastructure and road improvements
  2. Vulture Peak day-use area
  3. Vulture Peak campground
  4. OHV area

Today’s action is consistent with Secretary’s Order 3366, which calls for Interior bureaus to work with state and local partners to focus on developing or expanding recreational opportunities on public lands and waterways.

To learn more about what is planned for the area, visit the Maricopa County Park and Recreation Area Master Plan. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to leave a message or questions pertaining to the Vulture Mountains Recreation Area. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Replies are provided during normal business hours.


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