Pima County working to save road with pilot erosion stalling project

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 7:06 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Monsoon may be over, but erosion from monsoon rain and flooding is still a concern.

Right now, Pima County Parks and Rec is working to stall the erosion on a road that many use every day.

“I think the thing about this monsoon was, not only was it as intense as last year, but it was more drawn out. It did a number on our entrance road,” said Vanessa Prileson, Range Land Program Manager.

Just southeast of Tucson off of Sonoita Highway - an important road used by the county and members of the public is in danger. This year’s monsoon caused a lot of erosion and now because of the rainfall, the road is only about six feet away from a 30 foot drop into the wash.

Pima County Parks and Rec is working on a new project to stall the erosion and they’ll be using the burned palm trees from Agua Caliente park.

“We’re probably going to use about 40 palm trees total. We’re taking them in 30 foot lengths and then they’ll be cut to different lengths to create the structures,” Karen Simms, Division Manager for Natural Resources, explained.

The structures will work in a way to reduce the water’s energy and protect the road. The County says it’s a win, win. Since they had to remove the damaged palm trees from the park, they’re now serving a new purpose in this pilot project.

“It’s a very natural way to affect these kinds of changes that we need to make and so, if this one works out for us the way we designed it, then it will be something we have an opportunity to do. It’s a very common problem in a lot of these southwest drainages,” Simms said.

As monsoon storms get stronger, the county hopes to use similar erosion control strategies in the future. The road they’re starting the project on will be the test. It provides the public access to areas to hunt and it’s also the only road to get to the county’s Bar V Ranch.

“It’s really important because we have to make sure that all of my staff can get to the ranch headquarters. They live here and operate the ranch. We have 24 mother cows for our ranch education program and it’s really essential that we have constant access,” explained Prileson.

The County plans to have the project complete just in time before the next monsoon.

They are still working to remove some of the palm trees here at the park before it can reopen.