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.
2005: The Land Trust Changes Its Name
On August 15, the board of the McDowell Sonoran Land Trust voted to officially change the name of the organization to the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy to better reflect the Land Trust’s volunteer stewardship in the Preserve and its partnership with the citizens and City of Scottsdale. Program work by stewards in partnership with the City owned Preserve continued to grow.
The Conservancy approved a new logo after adopting its new name. Along with the change in the Conservancy name, the Conservancy moved to a new office in the Scottsdale Promenade on the northeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.
As increased community use of the Preserve continued, the Conservancy created a new program, the pathfinder pro-gram. The program began to train volunteers to staff Preserve trailheads as part of the Conservancy’s commitment to protect the Preserve. The newly trained pathfinders became welcom-ing ambassadors for Preserve visitors.
Changes in city government also brought changes to the Preserve. The city brought fire protection in-house in July. It created the first Scottsdale Fire Department after a long history of contracting for fire services. The city and the fire department now assumed responsibility for fielding a wildland fire division and protecting the Preserve.
2006: Mountain Bike Patrol Launched
Throughout the growth of the Preserve, a growing number of mountain bikers used the McDowell and surrounding Sonoran desert trails to ride in the desert. The McDowell Sonoran Conservancy recognized that the only way to ensure the safe and proper use of trails would be to create another steward program. Thus, the Conservancy launched a mountain bike steward patrol. B.J. Heggli served as lead steward for the bike patrol. The new bike patrol volunteer stewards wore bright yellow shirts to identify themselves while patrolling large areas of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve as well as nearby State Trust lands in northern Scottsdale.
In May, the Conservancy published A Field Guide for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve edited by Frederick C. Klein. It included monographs by historians and Conservancy stewards, and comprehensive, foldout trail maps.
After years of anonymity and conversational nicknames in the Preserve, key features in the McDowells were officially given names. Don Meserve of the City’s preservation division coordinated the effort. The Arizona State Board of Geography and Historic Names approved three naming features in the southern McDowell Mountains: Taliesin Overlook, Taliesin Wash, and Lost Dog Wash.
2007: Steward Volunteers Grow to 300
Participants in the 2007 Arizona Town Hall considered the topic of “Land Use: Challenges and Choices for the 21st Century”. The diverse group of attendees, including attendees from the Conservancy, came to the conclusion that state trust land reform should be enacted. Further there was support to provide adequate funding to the State Land Department to become a true asset manager.
With an increased consciousness of the need to protect and preserve land, the Conservancy reached a new level.
The efforts to educate the local community about the Conservancy’s dedication to steward the McDowell Mountains and surrounding Sonoran Desert resulted in the Conservancy’s steward strength reaching 300 volunteers.