APRIL 13, 2011

earth day imageCave Creek to focus on desert wonders

Cave Creek’s first Earth Day will celebrate the Sonoran Desert

CAVE CREEK – Earth Day Cave Creek events April 23 for children and adults will highlight desert conservation, a core value in the town. Residents voted to tax themselves in 2000 to save Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area – where saguaros meet towering cottonwood trees in a rare undammed riparian zone – from developers’ bulldozers. Town ordinances protecting desert on residential lots are among the nation’s strongest. Fund-raising is under way to purchase more than 4,000 acres to the west as open space for hiking, biking, horse riding and buffering urban encroachment.

Mayor Vincent Francia, one of the town’s preservation visionaries, is seeing his dream come true as 51 percent of the land is now open space. He treasures it.

“The saguaro cacti, which can live up to 400 years, is unique to the Sonoran Desert,” he said. “The Hohokam Indians who lived here were quite sophisticated, a very artistic group that used aqueduct irrigation. In the ecology, only the strongest survive. Everything is hardy, yet at the same time the ecosystem is delicate.”

The mayor usually goes running or hiking once a week in or near Spur Cross. “It’s restorative. It helps me keep a balance with the corporate and political worlds.”

Earth Day Cave Creek, sponsored by town group Green Cave Creek and the Desert Foothills Library, is the town’s first official celebration of the nation-wide event focusing attention on environmental issues begun in 1970.

“This is the only planet we have,” Francia said. “As stewards of this marvelous globe of life, we need to care for it.”

The day will kick off with the Cave Creek Trail Run raising money for open space.

Participants will depart at 7:30 a.m. from near the Spur Cross parking lot to tour the new open space area. For more information, go to CaveCreekTrailRun.com.

Conrad J. Storad, award-winning children’s author, will appear at 2:30 p.m. at the library, 38443 N. Schoolhouse Road, where most events take place. Storad is best known for Don’t Call Me Pig, a javelina story, and Rattlesnake Rules. Children’s activities including arts and crafts with recycled items will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., including a visit by desert animals and a Maricopa County ranger.

Cave Creek Building Supply will hand out free CFL bulbs, up to a retail value of $20, to Cave Creek residents who bring a driver’s license or water bill showing they live within town limits. A Cave Creek post office address isn’t enough.

At 1 p.m. Spur Cross Ranch interpretive ranger Kevin Smith will guide a hike along Metate Trail featuring a look at ancient Hohokam grinding stones and petroglyphs. Smith will point out invasive weeds that threaten the desert, and hikers have the option to help remove weeds encountered on the hike. Those interested in weeding should bring gloves. All should bring a quart of water and sun protection.

As a library fund-raiser, the library will accept from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. documents for shredding (donation requested) and items for recycling including electronics, cell phones and toner cartridges.

Speakers include:
• 10:30 a.m., community gardens and composting, discussed by landscape architect Jennie Curé, a natural planting specialist.
• 11:30 a.m., medicinal desert plants and natural healing, explained by Diane Vaszily of the Desert Awareness Committee and Stevanie Bahnerth, D.C.
• 12:30 p.m., making an impact by reducing waste, Patience Monroe of Maricopa County solid waste.
• 1:30 p.m., small steps to becoming eco-friendly, Jennifer Izzo of Green Cave Creek who is directing the event.
• 2:30 p.m., eco-friendly eating, Chef Sara Siso of Raw Vegan Academy & Café.

Guided tours of the Caroline Bartol Preserve will start at 11 a.m. and noon.

Kilowatt Ours, an award-winning energy conservation documentary, will be shown every hour from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., plus a preview at 6 p.m. April 20.

Local groups with booths will include the Desert Awareness Committee, Desert Foothills Land Trust, Friends of the Library, Green Cave Creek and the Sierra Club Saguaro Group.