McDowell Sonoran month activities set

September 3, 2008

Events celebrate the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
SCOTTSDALE – The 14th annual McDowell Sonoran Month, celebrating the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, will kick-off early this year with Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross’ proclamation declaring October to be “McDowell Sonoran Month” scheduled Tuesday, September 23 at the City Council meeting. McDowell Sonoran Month events are sponsored by the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (MSC) and the City of Scottsdale to increase awareness of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

A significant area of natural wildlife and desert flora, Arizona Game and Fish considers the McDowell Mountains and surrounding Sonoran desert as the most significant wildlife habitat in the Valley outside the Tonto National Forest. When completed, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve will be the largest urban preserve in the nation.

“McDowell Sonoran Month activities demonstrate how MSC protects the desert through its stewardship efforts, celebrate MSC’s unique partnership with the city of Scottsdale, and educate the public about how they can help protect open space and desert habitat” explains Ruthie Carll, MSC Executive Director. “Scheduled events and activities are intended to increase public awareness of the ecology of the Sonoran Desert and to encourage a public commitment to the Earth that starts from personal experience in this wild, open place.”

Activities include:
Preserve Inhabitants Lecture Series: Have you ever wondered if birds can change colors? Or, how plants and animals have adapted to this desert’s harsh climate? The Preserve is home to many plants and animals that have secrets that might surprise you. Join five scientists as they share amazing tales of their favorite Preserve residents every Wednesday night in October at 7 p.m. at Scottsdale Community College.

Current Issues in Conservation Lecture Series: Every Thursday in October local experts will share their views on how conservation efforts impact sustainability and benefit society. For instance, on Oct. 16 Robby Robertson, ASU professor and lead on the innovative “Tubes of the Desert” biofuel project, will discuss an ASU initiative to develop a new form of biofuel using tiny microorganisms called cyanobacteria. All of the lectures will be held at Mountain View Park Community Center and begin at 7 p.m.

barn owlFamily Friday Sunset Series: These family programs, held every Friday evening in October beginning at 4:30 p.m. in the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead Amphitheater located on 124th St., about one-half mile north of Via Linda, are perfect for everyone. All programs focus on exploring and appreciating the natural world and will include hands-on activities for children. The casual setting, interesting programs and beautiful sunsets are the perfect way to end a busy week. Presenters include volunteers from REI, Phoenix Herpetological Society and Adobe Mountain Wildlife.

Discovery Walks: Every Saturday in October beginning at 8 a.m. and ending around 10 a.m., experts in desert wildlife will lead groups in the best living laboratory in town! Short walks will offer an intimate exploration of hidden treasures of the new Gateway access area.
Public Hikes: MSC Stewards will guide Preserve visitors along more than 100 miles of trails during healthy lifestyle and themed hikes every Saturday and Sunday starting at 8 a.m. in October. Stewards will interpret sights along the trails including many specimens of Sonoran Desert plants and animals and the geology of the McDowell Mountains. Visitors will learn how to “hike right” in the desert and how Native Peoples used desert plants for their food, shelter, rituals and medicine. Plan to join us October 4th on the Quartz Trail where we will enjoy Ecology of the Sonoran Desert on a 5 or 7 mile round-trip easy hike. On Sunday, Oct. 5 we will offer the very popular Human McDowells hike starting at Lost Dog Wash Trailhead. See the McDowells the way a native hunting party did in a 2.5 mile easy hike on the Ringtail Loop.

Pathfinder Trailhead Hosts: MSC Stewards will be at the Lost Dog Wash and Sunrise trailheads to answer questions and provide information every Saturday and Sunday in October. Pathfinders share their passion for the desert and conservation through conversations that range from the health benefits of mountain biking in the Preserve to the wildfire threat of invasive plants. Volunteers will encourage visitors to become more involved with the Preserve and in supporting conservation activities.

In addition to educational programming, many events are hosted throughout the month in celebration of conservation efforts in the area. For instance, Cookout at the Ranch XIII, sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, MacDonald's Ranch, Desert Foothills Cookouts, and A Peek at the Peak Magazine will be held Saturday, Oct. 25 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at MacDonald’s Ranch. Proceeds from the event will benefit conservation organizations in the Desert Foothills area.

Cyclists are gearing up for the 5th Annual Tour de Scottsdale, and the “105,000 Miles for the McDowells” challenge, which will launch from Market Street at DC Ranch on Sunday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 a.m. The 70-mile bicycling event winds through five Valley cities including Scottsdale, Phoenix, Cave Creek, Carefree, and Fountain Hills, with every mile benefiting the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. A 2.5-mile Family Fun Ride allows even the youngest competitors to join in the Tour, which is sponsored by DC Ranch Community Council, Giant Bicycles and presenting sponsors, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Scottsdale Foothills Rotary.

A complete list of events and activities being held in conjunction with McDowell Sonoran Month is available on our website,

Courtesy photo