McDowell Sonoran Preserve or Park?

This letter to the editor from McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commissioner Fred Klein was published in the Republic last week.

Questionable changes make preserve seem more like a park

About 20 years ago, when Scotts­dale was beginning to acquire an open-space area and mulling how to run it, it had a number of ex­amples near at hand, especially those of the Tonto National Forest, state trust lands and Maricopa County parks. All permitted a wide array of recreational uses.

Instead, Scottsdale chose to create a preserve, aimed primarily at protecting scenic views and the native plants and animals. Our McDowell Sonoran Pre­serve is the result. It’s the nation’s larg­est urban nature preserve, or will be — a place where the law encourages con­templative use, with the desert the focus. year, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission, of which I am a member, charged with advising the City Council on preserve matters, has given its approval to allowing competitive events — that is, foot and bicycle races — to be staged in the preserve, and continuing a latter-day provision that permits bow-hunting in season, one that’s incongruous because it contra­dicts other preserve rules aimed at wildlife protection.

I have no problem with racing or bow-hunting per se, but think they are inappropriate for an entity like ours. Mine was a minority view in commis­sion votes on the issues, taken after public hearings in which (predictably) the voices of advocates of the activities in question predominated. The hunting matter was complicated by the fact that the hunter-friendly state Game & Fish Commission, not the city, has the final say, but even an effort designed merely to begin a discussion of the subject was defeated. The upshot is, we have less of a preserve and more of a park.

The issue will arise again more forcefully as the Desert Discovery Center advances. Proposed for the Gateway, the Preserve’s most-used portal, the center certainly would bring crowds and traffic to the trailhead area and, probably, food-service facilities and nighttime events as well. With proper separation and administration, the center and the trails could coexist, but the all-important details that would ensure this remain to be worked out. Directions can be changed, but the changes and their consequences should be made with open eyes.

Fred Klein is a member of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission.

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1 Comment

  1. To whom it may concern:
    I totally agree with Fred Keiln. Agressive and noisy activity of any kind would be totally inappropriate in this preserve. This preserve was created to provide a quiet and meditative desert experience for our population, as our cities become larger and more noisy. This proposal to use the preserve for agressive activities like racing or hunting (of any kind), is just another example of how upside down some people’s logic has become in this nation today, What is the inspiration for those individuals who would like to racing and hunting out there? Their inspiration is that they see a beautiful open space of natural enviorment, and they think it would be a wonderful place to enjoy their sport. How stupid can one become? That sort of activity would become the proverbal “bull in a china shop”, and would totally destroy the spirit, the soul and the intended purpose of this area. The answer to this outrageous proposal should not only be “NO”…but “HELL NO”! If people enjoy hunting and racing, that’s fine. But, please, go do it in one of our OHV parks or other places that have been set aside and are condusive to such activities. This proposal is nothing short of crazy. I cannot even fathom how anybody could be so insensitive, so bold, or so stupid, as to even suggest such a disrespectful thing. What next? Wild parties in our churches? It’s exactly the same thing…this is a place of reflection and meditation (a church, if you will) for many citizens of our community.
    Dolan Ellis
    Arzona’s Official State Balladeer

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