Collaboration may put Papago Park in Phoenix on par with Central Park

[Source: Dianna M. Nanez, The Arizona Republic] – – A collaboration involving three Valley cities and a Native American community could put Papago Park on a par with New York City’s Central Park or San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  While some public projects, especially those needing the blessing of multiple government agencies, often run out of steam before they ever reach fruition, the stars seem to have aligned behind plans to revamp the Papago area.

A $576,897 bill for a consultant to assess the more than 1,500 acres of central desert land bordering Scottsdale and sprawling over Phoenix and Tempe would be a lofty goal, even in brighter economic times. But Tempe, Phoenix and Scottsdale, the cities leading the Papago Park effort, can thank Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community for covering more than half of the consultant fee. The Native American community awarded Tempe a $100,000 grant in 2007 and Phoenix two grants totaling $284,000 to develop a Papago Park master plan. That plan would involve developing a Web site for public input, looking at the area’s natural resources and facilities, studying the culture and historical ties dating to ancient times when the Hohokam Indians cultivated the land and balancing the area’s future development with preservation and educational efforts. The remainder of the funding is coming from $100,000 in Tempe bond funds and Phoenix is assessing a $100,000 contribution. [Note: to read this full article click here.]

Volunteers contribute to better understanding of prehistoric peoples

[Source: Williams News.com, Jackie Banks, Kaibab National Forest] — Archaeology is good dirty fun! Or so proclaims the bumper sticker on the truck owned by the Kaibab National Forest’s heritage program manager. And, many people seem to agree, if the volunteer turnout at this year’s Passport in Time project is any indication. From Sept. 21-27, 17 volunteers contributed 880 hours to helping Forest Service archaeologists understand more about the prehistoric people who lived in the lands south of the Grand Canyon that are now part of the Kaibab National Forest.

“This program is so enjoyable,” said Ted Ockrassa, a retired photographer for the Department of the Army who traveled from Salome to participate. “I’ve been interested in archaeology all my life. I kind of missed my calling.”

Passport in Time is a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program of the Forest Service. The goal of PIT is to preserve the nation’s past with the help of the public. Volunteers work with professional Forest Service archaeologists on diverse activities such as surveys and excavation, rock art restoration, historic structure restoration, analysis of artifacts and more. The Kaibab National Forest has hosted a PIT project annually for the last 18 years. Over those years, more than 300 volunteers have contributed about 13,000 hours to the Kaibab heritage program. That equals more than six person years of work completed by volunteers.

Agua Fria National Monument, Ancient battleground? Worth a closer look? Definitely

[Source: Verde New.com, Steve Ayers] – – If you pass through Canyon de Chelly or walk the banks of Beaver Creek beneath Montezuma Castle, you get an immediate and clear picture of why both are national monuments. Like most of the nation’s inventory, their unique natural and/or cultural qualities are on prominent display. But driving south from the Verde Valley on Interstate 17, looking east as you pass between Dugas Road and Sunset Point rest area, the landscape does not immediately lend itself to either of those prerequisites.

Nevertheless, what you would see out the driver’s side is the Agua Fria National Monument — 71,000 acres spread across a high mesa, split down the middle by the upper Agua Fria River canyon. It is a noticeably barren and often windswept tract of low-lying hills and volcanic grasslands that, at first glance, lack any redeeming value. But don’t be fooled by the cover. The Agua Fria National Monument is worth a closer look. [Note: to read the full article, click here.]

New grant will launch Hohokam ruins project in Mesa AZ

[Source: the Arizona Republic, Gary Nelson] – – After more than 20 years, Mesa finally has enough money to begin work on an architectural park at the Mesa Grande ruins.  A $100,000 grant from the Arizona Historic Preservation Heritage Fund, coupled with a previous $150,000 from Indian gaming money, will allow the public to begin touring the ruins as early as next year.  Tom Wilson, director of the city-owned Museum of Natural History, said last spring the first $150,000, courtesy of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, was spent for site planning and digital mapping of the fragile west Mesa spot. [Note: to read the full article click here.]