Explore Wide-Open Spaces…

Just outside of your front door

By Kathryn M. Miller ~ In the Valley, we are blessed to be surrounded by wild desert spaces, and many of those spaces have been preserved for future generations. Whether simply protecting land from future development or developing it into parks and preserve spaces that include trails and educational facilities for its residents, Arizona has historically valued the conservation and preservation of its wide-open spaces.

Of course, residents in Carefree and Cave Creek need look no further than outside their own front door to find the beauty and tranquility offered by the desert. And area organizations work tirelessly to not only maintain and preserve this lifestyle, but to educate residents and visitors alike about the flora and fauna that is native to the landscape, and the history of the area.

Photos courtesy of Cave Creek Regional Park and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Desert Awareness Park, located between the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek, boasts two self-guided trails that pass a variety of naturally occurring desert plants, and highlights natural and cultural history in the Desert Heritage Center. The Desert Awareness Committee (a program of the Foothills Community Foundation) maintains the trails and displays within the park and presents programs on native plants and wildlife. The Committee is gearing up for its “Living in the Desert” lecture series, which kicks off in October at the Holland Community Center. Learn more at http://www.azfcf.org/about-desert-awareness.

Another organization, the Desert Foothills Land Trust (www.dflt.org) was formed in 1991 by citizens concerned about the pace of development and the loss of natural areas in their community. Led by a volunteer board of directors and a small staff, the Land Trust has worked to conserve the most sensitive and important open spaces in the Desert Foothills. To-date, the organization has conserved 680 acres on 23 preserves. The Land Trust will hold its 2018 Desert Discovery Day November 17 at Jewel of the Creek Preserve in Cave Creek.

And speaking of Jewel of the Creek, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, which encompasses 2,154 acres of diverse, rugged upper Sonoran Desert, will present “Life Along the Creek” during a guided hike August 17. A few minutes to the west and ranging in elevation from 2,000 feet to 3,060, the 2,922-acre Cave Creek Regional Park is the perfect backdrop for “Wilderness Survival Basics,” presented August 11. To learn more about either park or find other upcoming events, visit www.maricopacountyparks.net. |CST

Busy Spring For Desert Committee

Cave Creek metal artist Paul Dief’s artist rendering of the new monument sign for the Gateway Desert Awareness Park.

By Curtis Riggs – Cave Creek’s Desert Awareness Committee is hard at work this season educating the public about the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. It’s reprinting an environmental book, continuing education in Cave Creek Schools as well as maintaining and promoting the 26 acre Gateway Desert Awareness Park in East Cave Creek.

The committee, which joined up with the Foothills Community Foundation in 2010, is updating and reprinting the Fragile Desert, which was first published in 1989. The book is available on the committee’s website, www.cavecreek.org and at the Holland Community Center and the Cave Creek Museum. The committee is also installing new signage at Desert Awareness Park. Cave Creek metal artist Paul Dief has created a new monument sign for the park. The committee is also continuing with its Desert Reach education program in the fourth grades of the Cave Creek Unified School District. The committee has been conducting the outreach sessions since 2004.

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