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Catalina State Park unveils development plan, asks for public input

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ORO VALLEY, Ariz. (KVOA) - Catalina State Park is looking to make some improvements, including expanding the area around the 5,500-acre park to camp.

“We have about 150 campsites but they’re all set up for RVs,” veteran park ranger Jack McCabe said. “We can allow tent campers in there but they prefer to have kind of a separate area for themselves.”

McCabe has been a park ranger in this setting for 25 years. 

He’s hopeful the improvements will mean a redesigned visitor center, improved bathrooms and new trail systems 

The park sits on U.S. Forest Service land which means the federal government must sign off on any future development.

The park wants input from the public on what the thousands of locals and visitors each year want to see. 

McCabe said he and his team are booking campsites at the park a year in advance. 

“So, it’s impossible for the local population or people just driving down the road to come here and camp anymore and we just don’t have the area to allow them access to the park at this point,” he said.

Oro Valley’s Joe Pickens loves to ride his bike surrounded by the beauty of the Catalinas inside the park.

“What I like about the park most to what this park might have been hundreds of years ago, thousands of years ago,” Pickens said. “If you close your eyes just a little bit you can be in 1750.“

The development is years if not decades from coming to fruition and McCabe knows having the money to execute a vision is key. 

“Currently, we don’t have that in the budget but at least this would be the first step to getting to that point,” McCabe said. “Unless state parks were actually funded by the state legislature, at which point, we’d have money to actually do some improvements or maintain what we actually have.”

The 30-day public comment period is open to share your thoughts. 

There will be a virtual meeting to discuss the feedback on Nov. 5 from 6 - 8 p.m.

For more information, visit azstateparks.com.

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Eric Fink

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