Many Pinetop-Lakeside residents and visitors are surprised to learn Woodland Lake Park belongs to the U.S. Forest Service and not to the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside. The Town has a permit that allows it to use the Park. The current permit expires June 30, 2020.
In 1987, the Federal government approved the Townsite Act, and in 1998 the Woodland Lake Park Tract Act, paving the way for the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside to purchase the entire 583-acre Woodland Lake Park from the U.S. Forest Service. The Town has since struggled to have the necessary funds to purchase the park.
In 2007, the U.S. Forest Service listed the Park as one of the properties it wishes to sell. While the Park is currently protected by federal law, a new bill could be passed at any time allowing the Park to be sold to developers.
The Park Today
While the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside recognizes all the many reasons why this Park is important, it simply lacks the funds to buy the Park.
Woodland Lake Park has long been called the “Crown Jewel” of Pinetop-Lakeside. It has been a special place for our residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors and the various amenities the Town has provided. It also creates a venue for many events that bring visitors to our area and benefits the local community. It is the hope of the Town that this Park remains for generations to come.
It also creates a venue for many events that bring visitors to our area and benefits the local community. It is the hope of the Town that this Park remains for generations to come.
– MAYOR STEPHANIE IRWIN
The good news is the Park is much more affordable today than in the past. A recent appraisal found the purchase cost to be just 25% of that determined a decade ago, making the 107-acre developed park with the Town’s substantial recreation infrastructure investment more affordable than ever.
The 40-acre Big Springs area of Woodland Lake Park is sacred to four Native American Tribes: the Zuni, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Hopi Tribe, and the Navajo tribe.
Each year, the White Mountain Apache Tribe gather cattail pollen at Big Springs which they use for traditional purposes. The Hopi deem Big Springs significant to their culture and maintain that it should be included in the National Register of Historic Places. Because if its cultural significance, Big Springs will remain with the U.S. Forest Service.