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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
10:28 AM Tue, Nov. 20th

Prescott's hidden treasure - the Community Nature Center

Courtesy photo<br>
The 18-acre Community Nature Center open space preserve was bought in 2006 by the City of Prescott.

Courtesy photo<br> The 18-acre Community Nature Center open space preserve was bought in 2006 by the City of Prescott.

Do you seek adventure? Are you always looking for a new place to go hiking or birding? Are you familiar with the "old" Community Nature Center?

The Community Nature Center property is owned by the City of Prescott and is located at 1980 Williamson Valley Road. The city acquired this site several years ago using taxpayer-funded Open Space sales tax revenue. This 18-acre site is accessed by the same road that is used to get to Granite Mountain Middle School.

The property is managed by the City of Prescott Parks and Recreation Department and is open to the public every day. The property is characterized by pinyons, junipers, live scrub oak and large granite boulders. It is a delightful place to hike and explore, and it is so close to home.

Years ago, this property was managed by the Highlands Center for Natural History. They used the facility to host programs for school-aged children. After the Highlands Center moved to their beautiful campus off of Walker Road in the Prescott National Forest, the Community Nature Center property languished for several years.

Recently, several individuals from the Prescott area have volunteered their time and their talents to improve the property. It is time for the residents of the City of Prescott to rediscover this open space jewel.

I invite you to attend a celebration of this beautiful natural area this Saturday, Sept. 14, anytime between 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Numerous activities have been planned, including outdoor presentations on creating habitat gardens, water conservation, ethno botany, and the settlement history of the site.

Local naturalists will guide nature walks and I will be leading free guided bird walks each hour throughout the day, utilizing the center's trails. You can relax and enjoy music at the cabin, find friends, and discover the new self-guided learning opportunities that exist throughout the year at the center. I look forward to seeing you this Saturday at the Community Nature Center!

There is another bird watching activity this Saturday as well. The Highlands Center for Natural History and the Prescott Audubon Society have teamed up to provide a free guided bird walk at the Highlands Center property located at 1375 South Walker Road at 8 a.m. You do not need to register; just show up. It is recommended that you wear sturdy shoes and bring a hat, water, a field guide and a pair of binoculars.

The Prescott Audubon Society chapter provides a variety of activities to help individuals connect with nature - especially with birds. To find a complete list of upcoming events, visit www.prescottaudubon.org. There is a wealth of information on the website about all of the different activities the society sponsors.

On another note - this past Saturday I was in Gilbert and visited the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. I did not arrive until 5:40 in the evening, which is typically not the best time of day to begin birding. However, I was motivated to canvas the Water Ranch in search of birds as quickly as I could. In the end, the setting sun and darkness forced me to call it a day.

However, in just an hour's time, I saw 39 different bird species! Needless to say, I really enjoyed my time birding there. I saw a lone black-bellied whistling duck, and I saw several migrating warbler species including black-throated gray warblers using the mesquite trees to glean for food.

Until next week, Happy Birding!

Eric M. Moore is the owner of Jay's Bird Barn, with two locations to serve northern Arizona - 1046 Willow Creek Road in Prescott, and 2360 State Highway 89A in Sedona. Eric has been an avid birder for more than 45 years. If you have questions about wild birds that you would like discussed in future articles, email eric@jaysbirdbarn.com.