Desert Hike

"In a statement, Maricopa County Board of Supervisor Steve Gallardo said the park, which is used for biking, hiking and camping among other activities, is getting more use each year."

After several years of relying on solar power and diesel generators, Buckeye Hills Regional Park recently switched to a reliable, traditional source of energy — electric power. City officials say this opens up recreational opportunities for the Maricopa County regional park.

The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department announced the switch in early September after Arizona Public Service (APS) ran electricity to the park located 5 miles southwest of Buckeye.

Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Planning and Development Manager Ken Vonderscher said APS ran power to the park through existing equipment.

“When APS came in, they ran power from their transformer, to the end of their lines, to the park’s equipment. They were able to run power down the pole, right into the cabinets and power the park with traditional electric,” Vonderscher explained.

And APS also powered both of the park’s shooting ranges — the General Joe Public Shooting Complex and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Training Range.

In a statement, Maricopa County Board of Supervisor Steve Gallardo said the park, which is used for biking, hiking and camping among other activities, is getting more use each year.

“Bringing electrical services to the park just makes sense. We want park visitors and our deputies in training to have every resource possible to make the most of their time here,” Gallardo said.

The Maricopa County Parks and Recreation and Facilities Management departments tried bringing electrical services to the park sooner in 2016. But the project was stalled due to budget constraints, according to a press release.

Vonderscher said he thinks the project was also stalled because of an environmental assessment they have to work through with the Bureau of Land Management.

“It takes time to work with multiple agencies and, typically, the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process, to get all the cultural and biological items addressed through that process, usually takes about a year or so,” he said.

In regard to what’s next for the park, which is relatively undeveloped, Vonderscher said the new power system will give way to future improvements.

“Now that there’s a permanent power supply in the park, that opens up, obviously, some opportunities in the master-planning process to see what residents value in the area; what types of amenities they might be looking for going forward,” he said.

The park, at 26699 Buckeye Hills Drive, is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/buckeye-hills-regional-park.