Explore The McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Photos: Lynne Janney Russell; Courtesy of McDowell Sonoran

Free family Sundays kick off in September

The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy works with the City of Scottsdale to champion and protect the McDowell Sonoran Preserve for this and future generations. More than 650 Steward volunteers provide their time and talents to help residents and visitors experience, enjoy and learn from the Sonoran Desert on the 30,580-acre Preserve — one of the largest urban preserves in the nation.

Conservancy volunteers serve as trailhead hosts, patrol trails, perform trail maintenance projects, lead guided hikes, conduct educational programs and other activities in the Preserve. The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Field Institute, the Conservancy’s research arm, conducts and coordinates scientific research focused on sustainability of the Preserve.

Beginning this month, the Conservancy invites area residents to join them for a free Sunday afternoon learning adventure with the family. Family Sonoran Sunday events offer the opportunity to hear expert speakers on various Sonoran Desert topics and interact with crawling, slithering, feathered or cuddly friends that speakers sometimes bring along. The talks take place in shaded amphitheaters with bench seating at the Gateway Trailhead Amphitheater and the Brown’s Ranch Trailhead Amphitheater. They occur at 3pm on most of the first and third Sundays during the cooler months, and last for 45 minutes to one hour. If time permits, guests can take a leisurely walk along the nearby accessible, interpretive trails before or after the talk.

Upcoming events include “Southwest Wildlife Mammals,” October 22; “Center for Native and Urban Wildlife Reptiles,” November 5; “Wild at Heart Birds,” November 19; and “Geology,” December 3. Check the Family Sonoran Sundays schedule on the Conservancy website at www.mcdowellsonoran.org for updates. For additional information, call 480.998.7971.

‘Voluntourism’ Opportunities Now Available

Offered through Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

Leisure visitors and meetings groups often look for ways to give back to the local community while they’re visiting. It’s known as “voluntourism.” The Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has partnered with eight local organizations to promote volunteer activities that range from an hour to a full day. From working with seniors or youth in need to caring for homeless animals or helping maintain trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, there are plenty of options to choose from in Scottsdale. The partnering organizations include St. Mary’s Food Bank, Welcome to America Project, HandsOn Greater Phoenix, City of Scottsdale, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, Tranquility Trail Animal Sanctuary, UMOM New Day Centers, and Crisis Nursery. For information, visit www.experiencescottsdale.com/scottsdale/voluntourism.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trailhead Update

SCOTTSDALE – Construction of the Tom’s Thumb Trailhead began last October, with completion estimated for May. The trailhead will be located southeast of the intersection of 128th Street and the Pinnacle Peak Road alignment. Access to the trailhead will be via 128th Street. The new trailhead will include parking for at least 200 passenger vehicles (additional phases could bring the total up to 300 spaces), parking for 10 horse trailers, hitching rails, bike racks, restrooms, interpretive signage, shade ramadas and an entry drive with access control gate. Temporary public access to the Tom’s Thumb Trail will remain open during construction of the trailhead. The temporary parking can be accessed by traveling south on 128th Street from Dynamite Boulevard or Ranch Gate Road. Once you enter the Preserve, please follow the directional signs to the temporary parking area.

Brown’s Ranch Trailhead conceptual design

The Brown’s Ranch Trailhead will be the first trailhead to provide access to the northern region of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The trailhead will be located approximately 1.25 miles north of the intersection of Alma School Parkway and Dynamite Boulevard. The design process began in March 2011. Construction is estimated to begin later this year and be complete in early 2013. The first phase will include 200 passenger vehicle parking spaces (additional phases could bring the total up to 300 spaces), parking for horse trailers, hitching rails, water trough, bike racks, restrooms, interpretive signage, shade ramadas, water fountain, an entry drive with access control gate and a small office and maintenance yard. The master site plan for the trailhead was approved by the City of Scottsdale Planning Commission in December and the City Council in January.

For updates, visit www.scottsdaleaz.gov/construction/brownsranchtrailhead.

%d bloggers like this: