JUNE 29, 2011

Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve to close early July 3-4

Fire danger prompts restrictions and increased patrols

Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve will close at 3 p.m. on Sunday and Monday, July 3-4, to reduce the threat of wild fires during the Independence Day weekend.

All trailheads into the 16,000-acre preserve will have “closed” signs posted. Scottsdale police, staff and volunteer stewards will patrol the area to advise visitors about the closure and fire threat. Violating the closure is a Class 2 Misdemeanor punishable by up to four months in jail and a $750 fine.

Summer temperatures dry out vegetation and create an extreme fire threat that can endanger lives, property and the Valley’s fragile desert. The availability and popularity of fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday increases that threat.

The use of fireworks is prohibited in Scottsdale, but sales are permitted. Fireworks should not be used in Scottsdale – or anywhere near a natural desert environment.

“The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is one of the most scenic areas in the Valley,” said Scottsdale Fire Chief Garret Olson. “Everyone needs to work together to protect this community treasure. Respect the closure and never, ever bring fireworks into the preserve or any natural desert area.

“The risk is too great.”

The dangerous mix of desert vegetation and fireworks has already threatened one Scottsdale landmark. Last week, a visitor to Pinnacle Peak Park lit fireworks along the trail that ignited brush. Fortunately, the blaze was extinguished before spreading to the hillsides of the popular hiking spot.

Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve encompasses large areas of the McDowell Mountains and surrounding Sonoran Desert north of the Central Arizona Project Canal.
The preserve is home to stunning geography, lush cacti forests and diverse wildlife. It features award-winning trails and facilities. Scottsdale has acquired or ensured preservation of about 16,000 of the roughly 36,000 acres identified in the recommended preserve boundary.

To learn more about wild fire prevention, holiday safety tips and Scottsdale’s fireworks ordinance, visit: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/fire

To learn more about Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, visit: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/preserve

To learn more about the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, the non-profit group that champions the completion and sustainability of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, visit: http://www.mcdowellsonoran.org