JULY 1, 2015

City, McDowell Sonoran Conservancy honored for their work with preserve

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It took an inspired network of citizens to create Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve and a unique public-private partnership to steward its evolution.

That vision and ingenuity are being honored this fall by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The Society will present its Medal of Excellence to Scottsdale and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Nov. 9 in Chicago.

The award recognizes significant contributions to landscape architecture policy, research, education, project planning and design, or a combination of those disciplines.

The evolution of Scottsdale’s scenic preserve required all of those facets. Since voters approved a tax to fund acquisition of land in 1995, the preserve has protected more than 30,000 acres, making it one of the largest urban preserves in the United States.

The preserve hosted more than 600,000 visits last year. People came to enjoy the beauty and a network of award-winning trails and trailheads hosted and maintained by Scottsdale Preserve staff and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy volunteer stewards.

Nominators for the award recognized Scottsdale citizens, community leaders, preserve staff and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy. In announcing the Scottsdale award, organizers cited the public-private partnership of the city and the nonprofit Conservancy to nurture and protect the preserve, which covers roughly one-third of the city.

“When people share a vision and then work hard to make it happen, great things are possible,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is an example of the best of Scottsdale and our tradition of grass-roots, citizen involvement.”

That involvement is exemplified by the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, which boasts more than 500 volunteers who work with the city to support the preserve and to champion its sustainability for future generations.

”Our stewards patrol and maintain trails, greet visitors at trailheads, lead free public hikes and school programs, conduct scientific research and present community education programs,” said Mike Nolan, executive director. “These trained volunteers help connect the community to the Preserve to enjoy its many benefits.”

The American Society of Landscape Architects is the national professional association for landscape architects. The society’s mission is to advance landscape architecture through advocacy, communication, education and fellowship.

Scottsdale and the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy were nominated for the Medal of Excellence by Society member Christopher Brown of Phoenix-based Floor Associates. The nomination was supported by the Sierra Club, Arizona Forward and the Urban Land Institute, among others.