A new partnership between Phoenix Parks and Recreation, Arizona Game and Fish, Liberty Wildlife and REI is offering residents and visitors to South Mountain a deeper look at what makes South Mountain Preserve special.
Sue Arbogast, park ranger supervisor at South Mountain Park, said the city used to have regular classes and ranger-led hikes to educate park users. When budget cuts forced them to reduce their staff many of those programs went away. Now, by partnering with many local nonprofits, the city has created Trailhead Encounters to bring some of those education opportunities back.
“Our main focus for preserving what we have of this national treasure is to educate people,” Arbogast said. “A lot of times people just don’t understand how dangerous it is to go off trail or hike without water. We try to do public education often.”
The Trailhead Encounters at South Mountain will run every two weeks, beginning this Sunday and ending on Dec. 16, at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center or the Pima Canyon Trailhead.
On Sept. 16 the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Phoenix Park Rangers will give participants a chance to examine bones of various animals from 1 to 3 p.m. at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center, 10409 S. Central Ave.
On Sept. 30 visitors will have a chance to get up close and personal with live rescued birds and on Oct. 14 staff from Arizona Game and Fish will take hikers on a nature walk from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
All of the events are free and no registration is required.
Arbogast said the biggest issues at South Mountain are with hikers staying on the trails, cleaning up after themselves, and making sure they have enough water. With continued opportunities for learning, the city hopes residents will become more educated before they hike the mountain.
For more information on the trailhead encounters, visit the Trails and Preserve section of phoenix.gov/parks or call the South Mountain Environmental Education Center at (602) 262-7393.
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