Historic San Xavier mission lacks funds to complete repairs; tough economic times clip White Dove’s wings

The upper reaches of the east bell tower of Mission San Xavier del Bac shows its age next to the restored west tower. (Photo: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star)

[Source: Doug Kreutz,  Arizona Daily Star 3-28-2010] — A prominent feature of Mission San Xavier del Bac, which has graced the desert southwest of Tucson for two centuries, faces unchecked decay now that critical funding has been cut.  Work to repair and restore the mission’s deteriorated east bell tower was supposed to be under way this spring, but not a dab of new mortar has been applied.

A previously approved $150,000 grant from the Arizona Heritage Fund to kick-start the project was abruptly canceled last year.  Persistent efforts to get the funding restored have failed, so the bell tower will languish for the foreseeable future — making eventual restoration ever more costly, said Vern Lamplot, executive director of the Patronato San Xavier.  The group oversees fundraising and restoration for the mission, which attracts 200,000 visitors annually.

Restoration of the tower was to be the last major step in more than two decades of work that has included repair of walls, renovation of the west tower and meticulous cleaning of religious art inside the mission.  [Note: To read the full story, click here.]

Mesa Grande Interpretive Trail grand opening is held

[Source: Kevin Christopher, Arizona Museum of Natural History] — A community vision to bring an archaeological treasure to the public is finally realized!  A grand opening of the Mesa Grande Interpretive Trail [was] held Saturday, March 27 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Mesa Grande, located at West 10th Street and Date/Brown.  Mesa Grande is a major prehistoric Hohokam site that flourished from about 1000-1450 A.D.  The main feature is a large platform mound, about 27 feet high, that covers the size of a football field.  The site is administered by the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

“This is a day we have been looking forward to for a long time.  The opening of the trail will allow people to learn more about this unique site built by the Hohokam and our efforts to save it,” Arizona Museum of Natural History Curator of Anthropology Dr. Jerry Howard said.  The City of Mesa purchased the Mesa Grande ruins to preserve this cultural treasure and open it to the public as an educational and recreational facility.  Mesa Grande is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has also been designated by the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission as an Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Wickenburg-Boetto House receives award

Before and after shot of the Wickenburg-Boetto House.

[Source: The Wickenburg Sun, 3-23-2010] — The Wickenburg-Boetto House was recently selected to receive the Heritage Fund Historic Preservation Project of the year award.  The selection was based on many aspects, such as outstanding project performance and end use.  The Arizona State Parks board and the Arizona Lottery made the Project of the Year program possible.

The Historic Preservation Advisory Committee has chosen Wednesday, March 31 as the day to recognize the project and to award a bronze plaque to be placed at the Wickenburg-Boetto House.  Other projects being recognized include Old Adobe Mission in Scottsdale, New State Motor Building in Jerome, Children’s Museum at Monroe School in Phoenix, and Peeples Valley Schoolhouse.

The awards presentation is scheduled to take place in Phoenix and is set to begin at 1 p.m.  For more information, contact Cindy Thrasher at 684-5129.

Viewpoint: Abuse of public lands forces restrictions

[Source: Steve Ayers, Verde Independent, 3-20-2010] — Once again, vandalism and abuse of public lands is forcing those whose job it is to protect those lands to limit access.  This week, the Arizona Game & Fish Department announced that it would restrict motorized access to its Upper Verde River Wildlife Area beginning April 22.  The agency’s move comes in response to years of vandalism, along with the continued destruction of habitat from illegal use of off-road vehicles.

The 1,089-acre property is prime riparian habitat that includes three miles of the very upper reach of the Verde River along with a mile-long stretch of Granite Creek.  It was purchased by the state using Heritage Fund money from the lottery in 1996.  “The problem has been ongoing for several years now,” said Zen Mocarski, public information office for AZGF.  “There has been a lot of off-road vehicle abuse, a lot of fences have been cut, a lot of habitat destruction.”  Mocarski says the property is managed for its wildlife and riparian area and those management goals take precedent.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]