Some FABULOUS news to report… As many of you know, since 2009, Oracle State Park has been closed to the public due to budget cuts… Well, thanks to some pretty amazing people, the park is set to RE-OPEN this Saturday, February 4!
Hint, hint… mark your calendars and GO!
The Friends of Oracle State Park played a major role in the opening with an intensive fund-raising effort and membership drive. After the 4th, the park will be open on Saturdays to the general public from 8:00am – 5:00pm, and to school groups on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays in February, March, April, September, October and November.
I spoke to Ellen Bilbrey from Arizona State Parks about the good news and what you can do to help keep our state parks open for many more years to come.
Why was the park closed in the first place?
The park was closed when funds were swept from Arizona State Parks and the Heritage Fund was eliminated. This was an environmental park and does programming for schools and hosts about 3,000 children a year, so it was funded heavily from the Heritage Fund.
How is the park able to stay open?
The park is only open on Saturday’s for the public and from February through April and September through November for now. The rest of the week is devoted to children’s programming. Because our agency has reduced staff, and there are so many volunteers at Oracle, the Friends of Oracle State Park are assisting us in staffing the park to keep the park open.
Why is it important to keep our state parks open?
It is critical to keep state parks open because they are the revenue generators for rural Arizona towns. They draw 2.1 million visitors a year and that generates about $266 million for their economies, as well as $23 million in tax revenues. The more visitors that come to these areas, the more is spent on gas, food, lodging and gift items which support these small-town economies and generates tax revenues.
How can folks support our state parks?
The best way to support your state parks is to visit them and enjoy the amenities at the parks and the surrounding communities. Letting the public know you are in town and that you support your state parks is critical to saving them.
What can folks expect to find at Oracle State Park?
Oracle State Park is oak grassland, riparian woodland and mesquite scrub habitats that contain an multitude of wildlife and plant species. There are guided bird walks along the scenic hiking trails that are at about 4,000 feet in elevation. The 1930’s Kannally Ranch House is a four-level Pueblo Revival adobe with Mediterranean influences. There are hand-carved corbels, stenciled walls, hand-formed fireplaces and French casement windows with beautiful views of the Galiuro Mountains.
Check out what the park has planned for this Saturday:
8:30 am: Guided Bird Walk- Enjoy the beautiful landscape with sweeping views of the Catalinas on this morning Bird Walk.
10 am, 2 pm, 4 pm: House Tours- Tour the Kannally Ranch House, a unique Mediterranean style house listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that was once part of the Kannally family cattle ranch.
11 am: Oracle Odyssey Program- Enjoy a 45 minute excerpt from an Environmental Education Trail Program. Activities, for grades 4-6, focus on habitat and the interrelationships between plants, animals and people.
Noon: VIP Presentations- Presentations will take place at Noon in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House celebrating the park’s re-opening.
1 pm: Oracle Adventure Program- Enjoy a 45 minute excerpt from an Environmental Education Trail Program. Sample activities, designed for grades 1-3, use the five senses to explore the environment.
10 am to 4 pm: Booths & Bake Sale- Check out fun Interactive Educational Booths! Plus the Friends of Oracle State Park will have baked goods and special treats for sale at the Kannally Ranch House.
Information 3820 Wildlife Drive, Oracle, AZ; 1-800-285-3703; http://www.AZStateparks.com