Read the latest PRESERVE VISTOSO PULSE as well as articles from other publications about our vision and actions



For more information:

Patricia Sturmon, 520 591-2583
Gayle Mateer, 908 938-8227

Agreement Would Convert Former Vistoso Golf Course to a Nature Preserve 

Oro Valley, AZ, Oct 13, 2021—Preserve Vistoso announced today that The Conservation Fund (TCF) will purchase 202 acres of the former Vistoso Golf Course.  TCF will protect the property with a conservation easement as a nature preserve and community trail.  The Town of Oro Valley is expected to become the eventual owner.   TCF (501c3) is a nationally recognized conservation nonprofit organization creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, redefining conservation to emphasize its essential role in the country’s future prosperity.  

The property transaction should be final by year-end, contingent on the community raising $1.8 million for TCF to complete the purchase. Last year, community members conducted a successful pledge drive, but TCF’s offer to purchase the property was rejected. Now that an agreement was reached, there will be another opportunity for the community to raise the funds. 
“Our community’s goal to preserve the property is finally close to becoming a reality,” said Gayle Mateer, president of Preserve Vistoso, a 1,860-member community 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  “After the Vistoso Golf Course closed in 2018, we formed Preserve Vistoso so the community would have a voice in saving the property as a nature preserve and community trail.  Now as a community we need to secure the funds to complete the purchase to save some of the last remaining large parcels of Sonoran desert in Oro Valley as open space.”

Tom Weiskopf designed and opened the Vistoso Golf Course in 1995 with more than 70 percent of the property retained as Sonoran desert habitat. It has spectacular mountain scenery, abundant wildlife, more than six miles of paved trails, three restrooms and trail underpasses for major roads. The area was once home to a Native American village called Sleeping Snake, as evidenced by the petroglyphs that can be found on the property. 

“Our community would not give up,” Mateer said.  “Our volunteers persistently raised the issue of preserving the property with Town Council members and Town management.  Preserve Vistoso membership grew as more community members supported our efforts to preserve the property for community use.  TCF has been our valued and trusted partner.  We also applaud the involvement of Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield, Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett, Town Council members, Town Attorney and Town Manager in negotiations for the purchase. Their support and direction were critical to our success.”




Outline of property to be Acquired by The Conservation Fund

The Vistoso golf cart trail

  • September 9, 2021


September 9, 2021-- The Oro Valley Town Council last night approved a resolution to facilitate completion of the negotiations for the purchase of the 202 acres of the former Vistoso golf course by The Conservation Fund (TCF).  The Town has been involved in these negotiations since November 2020 and this motion authorizes the Town staff to take the necessary final steps to ensure the transaction is completed.  

“We thank Town Council members, Town Attorney and Town Management for supporting our efforts to save the Vistoso property as a community trail and nature preserve,” said Gayle Mateer, President of Preserve Vistoso.  “Negotiations are nearing completion and this resolution is the final step to remove any barriers to getting it done.  Mayor Winfield proposed the resolution which was unanimously approved (7-0) by Town Council members.”  

Here is the resolution: 

I move that the Town Council direct staff in accordance with their discussion in Executive Session to proceed with a settlement agreement of all disputes with Romspen that will facilitate the Conservation Fund’s purchase of the 202 acres of the former Vistoso golf course; that the Town Council will allow the Town to be party to the resolution of all claims with Romspen and be party to the negotiations of a conservation easement between The Conservation Fund and Romspen; including any consideration required by the Town; and that staff is directed in furtherance of a settlement agreement to involve a third party regarding the purchase of the 6 acres of the property owned by Romspen, currently zoned multi-family residential.

Preserve Vistoso wishes to thank all our members who sent letters to the Town Council prior to last night’s meeting.  By making your voices heard you have shown the Council that there is strong community support for their actions to complete the purchase.
More information will be shared once the deal is complete and the details can be made public. 


  • October 20, 2021


Published in The Explorer

Alexandra Pere, Tucson Local Media
Christopher Boan

October 14, 2021-- After 18 months of collaborative efforts between The Conservation Fund, Preserve Vistoso and the Town of Oro Valley, most of the defunct Vistoso Golf Course will be purchased for $1.8 million from Romspen Vistoso LLC, a Canadian non-bank mortgage lender

Conservation Fund Southwest Director Mike Ford said they have until the end of the year to raise $1.8 million through community donations.

Ford said they would go back to community members who had pledged $1.6 million in October 2020 when initial negotiations fell through.

“The long and short of it was there was a disagreement with respect to value at that time, what they thought it was worth, and what I was willing to pay or was able to pay,” Ford said.

Ford told Romspen he was happy to revisit the deal if they changed their mind. The Town of Oro Valley asked Ford to come back in April to resume negotiations and seal the deal. This time he was successful.

“Once we secure the property, once we purchase it and close on it, the community is assured it will be protected in perpetuity,” Ford said “We would never sell it, we would never develop it under any scenario.”

TCF will place a conservation easement on the property after purchase. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that permanently protects property for conservation. Ford said this guarantees the $1.8 million given by community members isn’t wasted.

This protection is what community members in Oro Valley have been working toward. When the Vistoso Golf Course closed in 2018, community members formed the nonprofit Preserve Vistoso in 2019. Preserve Vistoso and its supporters said they wanted the golf course to be protected from development.

In March 2020, Romspen filed a general plan amendment with Oro Valley to rezone the property to sell to developers. Rosa Dailey, a founding member of Preserve Vistoso, sought Ford’s help. With the help of Ford and TCF, the community can now try to raise the $1.8 million to purchase the golf course.

Preserve Vistoso Board Member Patricia Sturmon is optimistic the funds can be raised.

“When we had the first bid from The Conservation Fund last year, we had a very active fundraising campaign and we raised a lot of money,” Sturmon said. “We are going back to a lot of the same people and asking others to donate.”

Ford is also optimistic.

“But now, we really are urging everybody—we've got to raise the $1.8 million,” Ford added.

Purchasing the property will preserve Vistoso’s Sonoran desert habitat and provide a recreational space to 30 neighborhoods adjacent to the golf course. The property has six miles of paved trails, restrooms, trail underpasses, and petroglyphs. The property is currently open for recreational use.

Find more information about donating to Preserve Vistoso at:


  • November 1, 2021


November 1, 2021-- After more than three years of intensive effort and support from you and the other members of Preserve Vistoso, The Conservation Fund (TCF) signed the contract to purchase 202 acres of the Vistoso property. We now need to raise $1.8 million by December 15, 2021 for TCF to complete the purchase of the property. 

Your investment in our neighborhood is critical if we are to make the Vistoso nature preserve part of our community. We’ve walked the paved trails, enjoyed bicycle rides and viewed wildlife. We want that experience for you and your family to continue, but it won’t happen unless we meet our fundraising goal.  

We’d like to share with you information about the property and why your contribution is critical. We’d also like you to invest ten minutes to join a zoom call to learn how this affects you.


  • Who will care for the property

  • How will the property be protected from development in perpetuity

  • Where will money come from to restore and maintain the property

  • What happens to the bathrooms, cart path, weeds, pond

  • Get answers to your questions

Please contact Gerald or Karen Bren,
Preserve Vistoso volunteers, to schedule your
short Zoom or in-person presentation 
612-209-7347 or 612-834-8891

Donation information also is available at

Contributions are made directly to The Conservation Fund
100% of the funds raised will support this project.
Contributions to TCF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is tax deductible to the extent provided by law.
Tax benefits should be discussed with your tax advisor.


Maybe you want more information about the importance of saving the Vistoso property as a nature preserve but haven’t had a chance to plan or schedule a zoom call. Or, maybe you just want an update on fundraising. Whatever the reason, you can join Craig MacKay, Vice President of Preserve Vistoso, on Mondays at 9:00 AM for a Zoom call. No reservations needed, just zoom in and join him. Here is the link:


Everyone wants to know how we are doing on fundraising. We have a chart on our website to keep you up-to-date on progress toward our $1.8 million goal. Go to for the latest.  And, while you are on the website, you may click the donate button and add your contribution toward our community goal. Thank you for taking the time to visit our site and considering a donation.


If you are interested in an opportunity to apply your experience and have a voice in Preserve Vistoso’s mission, consider joining the Preserve Vistoso Board. Our all-volunteer board of directors serve two-year terms focused on actively engaging in the execution of the vision of our members.

If you are interested in joining the PV board, please fill out an application stating your interest and relevant experience by December 3rd.

At this time, we are looking for volunteers who strongly support Preserve Vistoso’s goals and can commit to at least eight volunteer hours a month. In particular, we’re looking for the following skills or experience:


  • Prior non-profit board experience

  • Background in legal, conservation, fundraising

  • Background in communications, public relations, marketing

  • Experience working with local governments

  • Interest in contributing to the community

Please send us an email at if you would like to discuss Board responsibilities or have any questions. We will interview candidates in December and announce the new Board members after our annual meeting in January.