Just five short years ago, we celebrated the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy’s 25th Birthday. As a part of that celebration, we remembered some of the most significant things that happened in each of our first 25 years.

We are now approaching our 30th Birthday, and we are taking this opportunity to reflect again on our past achievements, important moments, and dear memories that rise to the surface amongst hundreds, if not thousands, of individual moments for individual people.

With reflection, gratitude inevitably comes, and we are truly grateful for nearly 30 years with each of you.

Originally published in the 25th Anniversary Edition (Spring 2016) of Mountain Lines, our quarterly magazine of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy.

2002: Land Trust Stewards Honored

The State Land Department auctioned 780 acres of state land north of Bell Road on either side of Thompson Peak Parkway in June. 400 of these acres, east of the parkway alignment, were within the Preserve study boundary.

A fourth class of McDowell Sonoran Land Trust Stewards graduated on April 27. In October, Land Trust Stewards were honored by the City for volunteering 4,572 hours over the past year. Stewards were now taking on more duties patrolling and protecting the Preserve, while at the same time saving Scottsdale taxpayer money.

2003: Steward Education Program Expands

In 2003, with the graduation of the fifth class of McDowell Sonoran Land Trust stewards, the steward cadre numbered approximately 100 trained volunteers. The new training class was the result of a close collaboration between the Conservancy and Scottsdale Community College since 1998.

Over the years, the steward training classes grew to include seven evening sessions and three field trips. Training hike leaders became part of the steward training classes in order to provide better hiking programs to the public. The Land Trust also doubled the number of hikes offered.

2004: More Land Acquired

The Scottsdale City Council approved a master plan in February for a 300-mile citywide system of interconnected recreational trails. With thousands of people visiting the Pre-serve, the need for more planned access points was obvious.

After breaking ground April 20, Land Trust stewards and volunteers helped the City of Scottsdale’s contracted professional trail builder Dennis Smith of NWWS Inc. construct the new Sunrise Trail at 145th Street north of Via Linda. The new trail would connect Lost Dog and Raingtail trails.

There was more to celebrate on October 3. All of the private land within the study boundary had been purchased, and 13,826 acres had been permanently preserved. Another 16,100 acres were conditionally protected under the Arizona Preserve Initiative. Nearly all of the private land had been acquired amicably with fair compensation.

In just a few short years of trail building, hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and people attending educational presentations grew dramatically. It was clear that the Preserve had become Scottsdale’s point of pride.

During 2004, the one hundred Land Trust stewards had volunteered 7,253 hours. Stewards were now charged with helping to build trailheads and more trails for public use.