The Gila River Linear Park plan will be presented to multiple local government agencies over the upcoming month and multiple landowners have already expressed their support.

Director of the Gila Watershed Partnership Melanie Tluzcek unveiled the Linear Park trail concept in mid-March through a public meeting. The park will be completed in stages over upcoming years and will be five miles in length in the Gila River Bed between Safford and Thatcher. The plans will include paved and unpaved paths along with restrooms and pedestrian bridges.

“We have the near-finished draft of the Linear Park plan,” said Tluzcek.

GWP will be presenting the final plan to the park to the Thatcher town council and Safford town council along with the Graham County Board of Supervisors during the upcoming weeks.

“We’ve gone over it with the landowners, and they signed an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) stating their interest and support,” said Tluzcek, referring to the landowners at the Safford end of the river. Freeport-McMoRan also signed the MOU, she said.

She said once the plan has been approved by Thatcher, Safford, and Graham County the next step will be arranging a trail easement. It is Tluzcek’s hope to have all jurisdictions approve the plan by the end of May.

Tluzcek said the idea for the original funding source, which was through Freeport-McMoRan grant, is not an option now due to the fact that the mine has halted its grant application process for the year. However, she said there are multiple funding sources available.

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