Saturday may be the last time an organized program takes place at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center, which could fall victim to budget cuts being considered by the Phoenix City Council.
“The sad thing is this might be the last hike led by (park) rangers,” said Robin Salthouse, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and member of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve Council, which is sponsoring the event from 3 to 5 p.m.
The Phoenix draft budget calls for closing all the environmental centers, the elimination of horse patrols by rangers, elimination of seven park ranger positions as well as shorter operating hours for park facilities.
Saturday activities at the center, 10409 S. Central Ave., include an easy one-mile hike that is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs, with Sonoran Audubon staff on hand to help interpret plant and animal life found along the way or a more challenging five-mile hike on the Holbert Trail lead by a ranger.
Rangers also will offer a nature treasure hunt for children, and REI will offer four half-hour sessions for children on caring for and enjoying the outdoors.
Papa Murphy’s Pizza will provide free pizza and water for participants.
Phoenix Mountain Preservation Council is sponsoring this event with help and staff from REI, Sonoran Audubon Society, Maricopa County Parks, Papa Murphy’s Pizza, Arizona State Parks, Be Outdoor Arizona, the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center and the city of Phoenix.
For more information, visit www.phoenixmountains.org.