Monday, November 11, 2019

New, Quieter Tram Debuts in Sabino Canyon

Posted By on Mon, Nov 11, 2019 at 9:10 AM

  • Heidi Schewel
Sabino Canyon has attracted visitors since almost forever and now its wonders can be more thoroughly enjoyed because of quiet in the canyon.

“It took a decade of work, coordinated efforts and common vision, but now you can enjoy the sounds of nature,” said Forest Service Regional Forester Cal Joyner at the inaugural run of the new Sabino Canyon Crawler, an emission-free electric shuttle service.

By going electric and replacing older, noisy diesel shuttles, an estimated 15,000 gallons of gas per month will be saved representing a reduction of 400,000 pounds of carbon monoxide annually, according to Satish Hiremath, chairman of the nonprofit Regional Partnering Center managed by the Pima Association of Governments.

RPC owns the shuttle service in partnership with Tucson Electric Power and the U.S. Forest Service. Total Transit Enterprises/Total Ride will operate the service.

The new Crawler transportation system was funded in part by a $1.5 million contribution from Tucson Electric Power, along with a $1 million, 10-year, interest-free loan.

“Transportation is the largest greenhouse gas producer and this electric vehicle project toward cleaner and greener is another step in the long march we’ve been taking toward a more sustainable energy future," said TEP’s CEO David Hutchens. "Today marks the latest milestone in our efforts to reduce our community’s carbon footprint.”

The Sabino Canyon Shuttle Launch took place during Native American Heritage month and emcee Hiremath included that observation in his remarks.

“This area has sustained Native Americans for generations and remains culturally and spiritually significant today," he said.

RFP Vice Chair and Pascua Yaqui tribal official Peter Yucupicio also spoke about the project's significance.

“This project helps show respect for the land originally cared for by native cultures and ensures this natural treasure can remain unspoiled well into the future for many others to enjoy.”

Hiremath said that the new shuttle supports the region's priorities, referred to as their "3 Rs: relationships, recreation and restoration."

“This service honors the wishes of the community for a ‘greener’ transportation service in the canyon," he said. "It highlights new working relationships and the continuing importance of volunteers who help steward our lands, and it augments a vision for a transportation system benefitting both the public and the environment.”

Arizona’s congressional delegation was well represented at the launch with Sen. Martha McSally (R) and Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-CD2) and Raul Grijalva (D-CD3) in attendance.

“We hiked here as kids when this was just a dirt path with no infrastructure,” said Kirkpatrick. “Now people who can no longer hike can still enjoy the beauty of the canyon. We hold this land in trust as sacred, to be returned to the next generation better than we found it, and I feel that’s what’s happening today.”

McSally also commented on the benefits the shuttle can bring.

“All the way around, this is a real win for the entire community, and as a runner, I’m looking forward to finally experiencing a run in peace and quiet," she said.

Five custom-made electric shuttles will operate on the Sabino Canyon route, limited to a maximum speed of 15 miles an hour. (Another six gas-powered, enclosed shuttles will operate on the Bear Canyon route). Free earbuds are provided for a professionally narrated tour guide that explains the canyon’s cultural and geological history as well as its diverse plant and animal life. Audio noise will be reduced so that hikers can enjoy the sounds of nature free from the previous service’s obnoxious loudspeaker narrations.

Shuttles are powered by a 384-volt battery system that is recharged nightly at an onsite charging facility. The shuttles and their trailers are equipped with multiple braking systems that allow control on steep downgrades. The vehicles, manufactured by the world’s foremost builder of trams, feature 4-wheel steering to allow negotiation of sharp turns and narrow-bridge water crossings.

A new website, www.SabinoCanyonCrawler.com, will allow visitors to reserve and pay for shuttle seats in advance of their visit while an onsite shuttle fee drop box at vendor kiosks will also accept payment via credit or debit card. In-person ticket sales are also available at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Visitor Center gift shop. Roundtrip adult price is $12 or $4 for a one-way hop-on when space is available.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

One Seed Pima County: Blooming Black Russian Sunflowers

Posted By on Thu, Sep 5, 2019 at 3:53 PM

At Pima County Public Library, it starts with a seed...

Were you one of the thousands of Pima County residents that checked out Black Russian Sunflower seeds as part of the Library's 2019 One Seed program? For many of you, now could be the time to start harvesting and saving your seeds! If you planted Black Russian Sunflowers back in April or May, your sunflowers are probably ready for harvest.

Our wonderful Seed Librarians have put together a helpful guide on how to tell if your seeds are ready for harvest or what to do if they're not quite ready.

We'll be wrapping up this year's program at our Weigh-Off Party on Saturday, September 21 at Martha Cooper Library from 8 to 11 am. Bring your saved Black Russian Sunflower seeds and your donation will join the donations of other gardeners to ensure we have seeds to plant for seasons to come.

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Friday, July 26, 2019

Insect Insanity at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 9:31 AM

  • Courtesy of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is celebrating the plethora of amazing insects that live in the Sonoran Desert July 27 from 5 - 9 p.m. during their Insect Insanity night.

Children of all ages can learn about local bugs, make their own wearable antennae, see moths, butterflies and beetles, and even...try eating cricket-infused treats.

Meet American wildlife artist Guy Coheleach and draw your own rendition of a Sonoran wild cat, pet a stingray and explore in the packrat playhouse.

Bring a black light to look for fluorescing insects along the walkways! Museum docents would be happy to tell you all about the insects you find.

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See the colony of bats under Campbell bridge

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 9:29 AM

If you've ever ridden you bike along the Rillito bike path and gone under the bridge at Campbell and River, you might notice an acrid smell - that's guano. There's a colony of bats that live under the bridge and take flight right at dusk during the summertime. It's a beautiful natural phenomenon, and fun to bring kids to see.
  • Courtesy of Southern Arizona Guide
It might seem like you're waiting a long time, or maybe they won't leave, or maybe you've missed it - you haven't, be patient.

A few bats will fly out first as the colony gets ready to leave the bridge. All of a sudden they will take off, streaming out from underneath and form a cloud. Their chirping is audible as they take off to go feed on insects.

Most likely, these are Mexican free-tail bats that have migrated here in April from Mexico, and will return to Mexico in October. They are protected by Arizona law and best viewed from a distance.

Catch their flight at dusk any evening during the summer, likely through September.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Pima County Needs Trail Builders

Posted By on Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 2:41 PM

The Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation department is asking volunteers to help build 2.5 miles of trails.

The extension will extend the Painted Hills Trails Park, as well as restoring the neighboring Enchanted Hills trail system, according to a release.

Both trails abut the Tucson Mountain Park on the western fringe of Tucson, with the newly-revitalized Painted Hills system featuring four miles of trails, while Enchanted Hills will have seven miles.

The restoration work at Painted Hills (3950 W. Anklam Road), will occur between 6-10 a.m. on Saturday, July 13.

Work at Enchanted Hills (Western end of 36th street, west of South Mission Road), will happen throughout the summer.

Anyone interested in helping at either site can reach Neil Stitzer, at 520-724-5239, or by email at neil.stitzer@pima.gov. 

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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Help Build New Trails at Painted Hills

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2019 at 3:42 PM

  • Courtesy Pima County
On the West side of town there are many places to pull off the road and enjoy the scenery. One such pull off is the Painted Hills trailhead. Currently connecting to a small system of trails, Pima County is looking for volunteers to expand the hiking options.

Located on the edge of Tucson Mountain Park, plans are to create four miles of new trails in the Painted Hills trail system and seven miles of new trails throughout the Enchanted Hills area.

Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation trails staff need help to make the new hiking haven a possibility. No previous trail work is needed and volunteers will help in new trail construction and revegetation efforts.

There will be multiple opportunities at the two locations to help build the new trails:

Painted Hills Trailhead, 3590 W. Anklam Road
  • Saturday, April 6: 8 a.m - noon
  • Sunday, April 14: 8 a.m. - noon
  • Saturday, April 27: 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 4: 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 11: 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
To register for an event at Painted Hills, contact Neil Stitzer – Neil.Stitzer@pima.gov or 520.724.5239.

Enchanted Hills Volunteer Events

Location: 36th Street Trailhead (western end of 36th Street, west of S. Mission Road)
  • Sunday, April 7: 8 a.m. - noon
  • Saturday, April 13: 8 a.m. - noon
  • Saturday, April 20: 8 a.m. - noon
  • Sunday, April 28: 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 4: 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
  • Saturday, May 11: 7 a.m. - 11 a.m.
To register for an event at Enchanted Hills, do so through Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists.

For more information about the volunteer opportunities or new trails, click here.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Share Your "Tales From Tumamoc" at the Cuéntame Más Camper

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 4:06 PM

The Cuéntame Más: Tales From Tumamoc mobile recording studio is open to the public on select days through April 7. - PHOTO BY BILL HATCHER, COURTESY UA NEWS
  • Photo by Bill Hatcher, Courtesy UA News
  • The Cuéntame Más: Tales From Tumamoc mobile recording studio is open to the public on select days through April 7.
Have you hiked Tumamoc Hill recently and noticed a little camper parked by the gate at the middle? "Cuéntame Más" the trailer says.

As part of an interdisciplinary oral history project run by scholars from the University of Arizona, a mobile recording studio has been set up to collect stories of hikers walking by.

"It is essentially Story Corps for Tumamoc," said Ben Wilder, director of Tumamoc Hill, in a release. "We want to hear what Tumamoc Hill means to you to better understand the unique connection between people and this place."

The UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry and the Desert Laboratory Tumamoc Hill have collaborated on this project and the camper, which opened for storytelling on March 12.

On select days between now and April 7, the camper will be open for hikers to stop by and share their stories. The tales will be taken down on audio, and each speaker has the option of having their photo taken by National Geographic photographer Bill Hatcher.

The images and stories will be shared via Desert Lab and Confluencenter on Instagram at @confluencenteruofa and @desert.laboratory.

"Just as Humans of New York is able to give you a sense of the vibrant culture of a city and intimate stories we all have, Tales From Tumamoc will capture the remarkable stories right here in the heart of our city," said Javier Duran, director of the Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry in a release.

To find out when the camper will be open and collecting stories, and to learn more about the project, click here.

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Friday, March 1, 2019

After Snowfall, Wildflowers Bloom: Round Two!

Posted By on Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 4:30 PM

Poppies and lupines at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019. - IAN GREEN
  • Ian Green
  • Poppies and lupines at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019.
Headlines of early wildflower blooms across Arizona inspired professional photographers and the average Tucsonan alike to head outside and enjoy nature's paint canvas. Parks Catalina and Picacho Peak showed off colors of violet and gold with swaths of poppies and lupines.
Lupines at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019. - IAN GREEN
  • Ian Green
  • Lupines at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019.
The equally magical Friday snow, however, caused the flowers to close their petals for a few days after a brief winter storm caused around half an inch of snow to fall around the University of Arizona campus and a whopping 38 inches on Mt. Lemmon, according to the National Weather Service.
Snow covered peaks in the Catalina Mountains on Friday, Feb 22, 2019. - IAN GREEN
  • Ian Green
  • Snow covered peaks in the Catalina Mountains on Friday, Feb 22, 2019.
Snow covered peaks in the Catalina Mountains on Friday, Feb 22, 2019. - IAN GREEN
  • Ian Green
  • Snow covered peaks in the Catalina Mountains on Friday, Feb 22, 2019.
Wildflowers like to hide when it gets chilly, but as temperatures have increased throughout the week reaching into the 70's, they're out again and blooming as bright as ever! This bloom marks the beginning of Southern Arizona's spring wildflower season.
White desert chicory at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019. - IAN GREEN
  • Ian Green
  • White desert chicory at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019.
Need to know when and where you'll find these carpets of color? Reach out to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum's "Wildflower Hotline" at 520-833-2702 ext. 7320 during business hours, or check online for additional resources.
Poppies and lupines at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019. - IAN GREEN
  • Ian Green
  • Poppies and lupines at Picacho Peak State Park on Sunday, Feb 24, 2019.

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Staff Pick

World Flute Concert

World flute virtuosos Gary Stroutsos and Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos come together for an evening of meditative soundscapes… More

@ San Pedro Chapel Fri., Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m. 5230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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