Apache Junction officials thank residents, organizations for donations

Local residents, businesses and organizations that made monetary donations to city programs were thanked at the March 6 meeting of the Apache Junction City Council. “We just want to say to all of the donors, ‘thank you,’” Roger Hacker, sponsorship/partnership programs coordinator for the city of Apache Junction, said. “Every donation – big or small […]

SALT sponsors Lost Goldmine Trail hike

The Superstition Area Land Trust is sponsoring an interpretive guided hike Wednesday, March 14, in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. Hike leader Bonny Knowlton will lead what is considered an easy 4-mile trek along the Lost Goldmine Trail. “We will be hiking the west end of the Lost Goldmine Trail,” Ms. Knowlton stated in an email. “This will […]

Jim Holway speaks March 14 on Arizona’s water challenges

Will water availability limit future population and economic growth in our desert environment? Jim Holway, director of the new Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, will address that and more at the March 14 SALT Speakers Series event. The talk, co-sponsored by the Superstition Area Land Trust […]

State Land Trust Commissioner Atkins to discuss land management

Are you an off-highway vehicle enthusiast using state trust lands? A retiree supporting efforts to conserve our desert open spaces? A family breadwinner seeking better jobs, schools and highways? A developer lured by hundreds of square miles to be sold or leased for its appraised value?

How about an official trying to plan ahead of all the rooftops? Or a homeowner in the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon area who believes your mountain viewscape is protected in perpetuity?

If so, the Superstition Area Land Trust and Apache Junction Parks and Recreation have a not-to-be-missed talk for you.

Lisa Atkins, appointed last June by Gov. Doug Ducey as commissioner of the Arizona State Land Department, will present “A New Approach to Management of Arizona State Trust Lands: The Superstitions and Beyond,” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23, in the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road.

Ms. Atkins is the 21st commissioner in the 100-year history of the department. She is responsible for managing and administering 9.2 million acres of state land held in trust for 13 beneficiaries, the largest of which is K-12 education.

In fiscal year 2013, trust revenues exceeded $318 million.

Walters returns to discuss local birds of the Sonoran Desert

Superstition Area Land Trust and Apache Junction Parks and Recreation will offer a lecture about the birds of the Sonoran Desert, especially the ones that can be found locally. It will take place 6:30-7:45 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in room B-117 of the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center, 1035 N. Idaho Road. The event is free and open to the public.

The presenter — Vera Walters — will discuss the birds, teach attendees their songs and share stories about how the birds get along in this desert world. This is the second lecture to feature Ms. Walters.

An event in February had an overflow crowd and so the organizations decided to bring Ms. Walters back. Ms. Walters has taught birding classes through Central Arizona College, Southwestern Field Studies, Road Scholar, the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as various private organizations. She is a regular volunteer with Lost Dutchman State Park and is a trail steward with the Superstition Area Land Trust.

For more information, visit the parks and recreation page on the city’s website.

Sponsor by March 1 to be included in SALT newsletter

The adage, “A healthy environment means a healthy economy,” is deeply understood here in the shadows of the Superstition Mountains. A unique and special place to live, work and play, our area attracts winter visitors, new homebuyers and businesses, recreation and tourism.

Many independent studies have quantified the benefits that high-quality natural open spaces have on everything from tourism dollars to property values, wildfire conservation, human health, urban heat island mitigation and water and air quality.

The Superstition Area Land Trust, or SALT, has been a significant contributor to keeping this beautiful corner of the Sonoran Desert accessible. Businesses know that SALT, as the only nonprofit conservation organization based in our county, adds to our quality of life and therefore our local economy.

SALT has recently launched its Business and Corporate Sponsorship Program, enabling businesses to support its 23-year mission to conserve these special places through stewardship, education, advocacy, partnerships and scientific study.

Join us as we work hard to keep our area clean, healthy, attractive and sustainable. Business owners can choose from the Roadrunner level at $100 to the Mountain Lion at $750. Corporate levels range from the Copper at $1000 to the Platinum at $10,000.
Join SALT’s Business or Corporate Sponsor Program by March 1 to be recognized in our annual newsletter mailing.

To learn more about the program and its benefits and to register as a sponsor, go to SALT’s website at azsalt.org and click on “Sponsorship Information” under the “How to Help” tab; call SALT Executive Director Cyndi Ruehl at 480-983-3454 or e-mail her at cyndiruehl@azsalt.org.

SALT salutes you in advance for investing in both a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

Becky Goff
Superstition Area Land Trust

Responsible off-highway vehicle recreation in a desert environment

Off-highway vehicle recreation can be a safe, enjoyable and low impact activity when owners obey the laws, stay on designated roads and trails, ride responsibly and respect the environment.

The topic was addressed by Skip Varney, OHV coordinator for Arizona State Parks, and Chris Gammage, Arizona State OHV Ambassador Program coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management, in a recent presentation co-sponsored by the Superstition Area Land Trust and the Apache Junction Parks and Recreation Department.

What is an OHV? Any motor vehicle operated on unimproved roads, trails and approved use areas not suitable for conventional two-wheel-drive vehicular travel, including sport utility vehicles, four-wheel drive vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, dirt bikes, dune buggies, sand rails and snowmobiles.

All OHV users should know the new laws that went into effect statewide in 2009, summarized in the OHV Laws and Places to Ride booklet produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona State Parks and the Arizona State Land Department. Among these is a requirement to purchase an OHV decal for vehicles designed primarily for travel over unimproved terrain and weighing less than 1,800 pounds. Pickup trucks and cars are exempt.

Why is the decal needed? With over 125,000 registered OHVs in Arizona, use has exploded, outpacing existing funds to manage that growth, protect wildlife habitat, and maintain sustainable access. Revenues from the decal user fee provide funding and grants that pay for trail maintenance and improvement, signage, maps, facility development, mitigation for habitat damage and dust pollution, OHV information outreach events, educational and safety programs and enforcement.

They also enable partnerships between land management agencies and statewide “OHV Ambassadors” volunteer groups that educate and promote safe, ethical and responsible OHV use.

What does responsible use entail? To eliminate safety hazards, protect resources and avoid closure of riding areas:

1. Stay on legal roads and trails. Respect property by leaving gates as you found them and keeping out of closed areas. Know the specific regulations for the areas in which you ride. For example, the OHV decal allows riders to cross state trust land on existing roads and trails, but a State Land Department Recreation Permit is required for any other activities on state land.

Apache Junction, Queen Creek councils discuss issues that are important to both communities

Elected officials and staff members from Apache Junction and Queen Creek met Aug. 25 to share what each municipality is doing to address the needs of its community and to discuss how they can work together to achieve common goals.

“As a council, we always want to meet with and discuss what’s going on in our communities with our surrounding communities. To me this is almost like coming to a family reunion. You just about know everybody and what they think but you don’t want to take anything for granted,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said during his opening remarks. “This is a great opportunity to get together to discuss some things that are important to us as smaller cities in the East Valley. We can hang separately or stand together. There are some things that are going to come to us that we’re going to need to stand together with … like we’ve done in the past.”

The joint meeting, which was hosted by the city of Apache Junction at its multi-generational center, marked the first time since 2009 the councils and staff members gathered for an agendized discussion, Queen Creek Town Manager John Kross said during an interview prior to the start of the meeting.

“This is something we hope to do on a more regular basis,” Apache Junction Vice Mayor Robin Barker said an interview prior to the start of the meeting.

Learn about proposed Peralta park at open house June 23 in Apache Junction

Pinal County officials are seeking input from the public about which amenities citizens would like to have at the proposed Peralta Regional Park, near Apache Junction.

Public input sought on amenities for proposed Peralta Regional Park

Will Pinal County’s first regional park open near Gold Canyon? County officials are inviting the public to comment on the matter during two open houses scheduled this summer, the first of which will take place June 23 in Apache Junction.