Travois: I Encourage Scottsdale City Council to vote for the Desert EDGE

Source:  Editorial by Ken Travous; Scottsdaleindependent.com – November 7, 2017

I have been following the Desert Discovery Center saga for the past few years, and I don’t envy the situation now before the Scottsdale City Council. In one respect, I’ve been there myself. I was the director of Arizona State Parks during the purchase, study, planning, development, opening, and, for the first 10 years, operation of Kartchner Caverns State Park.

During the planning and development stages there were voices of difference on what should and, as importantly, what should not be done with the resource. A resource that was quickly designated as one of the top 10 caves in the world from a mineral diversity standpoint, not to mention that it was a “living cave,” a dripping wet cave just below the Arizona desert.All of the voices were valid. All envisioned a future for Kartchner Caverns that represented what they wanted Kartchner to be. All, indeed, wanted only what they thought best — from their standpoint. So it is with the Desert Discovery Center, now called Desert EDGE.

Various interests have expressed their views, and now Scottsdale City Council must decide the best use of the resource. The key question they must answer, I believe, is what positions the city into the future. Shall the Preserve remain as it is today, or should it become an environmental education showcase? I encourage them to vote for the Desert EDGE.

It is their decision. It is what we elected them to do and they have shown that they have taken the time to listen to the voices. To place the decision to a public vote skews the field to those who will only be satisfied with capitulation. Moreover, these are not “zero sum” circumstances. Those who want only to have their place to hike will still have it.

The discoverers of Kartchner, Randy Tufts and Gary Tennen, along with the Kartchner family realized they had something much more than just a pretty hole in the ground to entertain future visitors. They had a place to teach and inspire future decision makers. A place for visitors to understand their responsibility to study and unlock the hidden messages of their surroundings

Living on the desert edge requires us to prepare for the future. Desert EDGE is the perfect place to do just that. Frankly, you can’t do that without slowing the visitor down and engaging them in the contemplation a visitor center affords.Those of us who were primarily engaged in the development of Kartchner have witnessed the partnerships with The National Science Foundation, NASA, the U of A and a host of other scientific interests in furtherance of those goals.

We remain enthralled by the studies of microbes and their role in the formation of stalactites, the record of flora and fauna changes over eons, and the hydrological record contained there and their implications into the future.

We have not regretted our choices. Nor will the city council.

Editor’s note: Mr. Travous was the Arizona State Parks director for seven governors, both Democrat and Republican for the years 1986 through 1999. He is retired and lives in Scottsdale.

Environmental Study Ranks Arizona Second Lowest Among Western States

Source:  Joshua Bowling, The Republic/azcentral.com, October 18, 2017

It found Arizona’s access to public lands and responsible energy development need improvement.

Lori Singleton to Serve as Interim CEO/President for Arizona Forward

Source:  Arizona Forward Press Release by Mr. Michael Olson, Chair of Arizona Forward –  October 3, 2017

“As Chair of the Board of Directors for Arizona Forward, I wanted to share with
you some exciting news about the leadership of the organization.  As you know, Diane Brossart has retired as CEO/President after 26 years in the role.  As the Board continues to complete the search for a new CEO, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Lori Singleton will be serving Arizona Forward as the Interim CEO/President.

Many of you know Lori as she has been a previous Chair of the Board of
Directors, has served on the Board for more than two decades and has Chaired the Environmental Excellence Awards program for the past 16 years.  SRP has graciously agreed to allow Lori, an executive at SRP, to be at the helm of Arizona Forward while the Board continues the recruiting and selection efforts for the CEO position.  Lori’s long time experience with the organization, and her knowledge of important environmental issues affecting the state, uniquely qualify her to serve in this role.

The Board and I are extremely positive about the new beginnings taking place at Arizona Forward, which are infused by the solid foundation of an organization that has been built over the last 48 years.  The recent Environmental Excellence Awards program demonstrated the breadth and depth of the commitment to the mission of the organization, and highlighted projects throughout the state that truly raise the bar in terms of environmental excellence.  This month, we will provide valuable environmental education materials to more than 300 teachers who will attend the EarthFest Educator’s Night at the Phoenix Zoo on October 24.  And there are many more exciting initiatives and programs that will be announced in the coming weeks.

Please join me in welcoming Lori in her new role. Her email is LSingleton@arizonaforward.org, and her cell phone is 602-499-5465.  Feel free to reach out to Lori, or contact me personally, if you have any questions or suggestions for how we continue to strengthen and help lead Arizona into a sustainable and vibrant future.”

Michelle Olson,  Board Chair, Arizona Forward

Arizona State Parks and Trails Brings Home the Gold Medal for Best Managed State Park System

Source:  Arizona State Parks and Trails Press Release – September 26, 2017

Arizona State Parks and Trails today won the Gold Medal for best managed state park system in the nation from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The award was announced this morning during the national NRPA conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“This is a tremendous achievement that benefits everyone in our state – from residents to tourists,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Winning the Gold Medal is a testament to the hard work, collaboration and innovation that Arizona State Parks and Trails demonstrated to get us to this point.”

Arizona State Parks and Trails was selected as a Final Four candidate in May, along with Tennessee State Parks; Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites, and Trails.  Over the last two years, Arizona State Parks and Trails has established a self-sufficient funding structure, achieved record visitation and revenue and implemented a plan to reinvest in the system and create new parks.

“This Gold Medal win is not just about the staff of Arizona State Parks and Trails,” said Sue Black, Executive Director of Arizona State Parks and Trails. “This is about everyone in Arizona who contributes to our success or gets to enjoy our beautiful parks. It’s a huge honor to be considered the best-managed state park agency in the country, and we hope everyone will get out and see these amazing parks first-hand.”

To celebrate making it to the Final Four and hear the Gold Medal winner announced, agency partners, stakeholders and constituents gathered at the Arizona State Parks and Trails Outdoor Recreation Information Center on Tuesday morning as the event was live-streamed on Facebook from New Orleans. Executive Director Black accepted the award.

The Gold Medal Award honors state park systems throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices.

For information about all 35 Arizona State Parks and Natural Areas, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.

PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (602) 542-1996 or (480) 589-8877 – Email: pio@azstateparks.gov