White Tank Mountains CONSERVANCY December 2016 Newsletter

Conservancy Leadership Launches Charter Membership Advisory Council

Charter members of the White Tank Mountains Conservancy gathered at the Verrado Golf Club on December 5 for an update on how their commitment to the organization is furthering the Conservancy mission. That mission is to ensure the sustainability of the natural and cultural resources of the White Tank Mountains.

Mayors from the cities of Buckeye, Peoria, Surprise and the Town of Youngtown have committed to the Conservancy as Municipal Charter Members. DMB Associate, Inc., APS/Palo Verde, and DH Horton.are on board as Corporate Members. Mayor Jackie and Verlyne Meck were recognized as Individual Charter Members.

Governing Board Co-chair Todd Hornback announced that charter membership will remain open for several more months giving cities and organizations an opportunity to align priorities and allocate resources.

Several area schools and organizations have partnered with Conservancy committees to provide support for various projects. Among those are Desert Botanical Gardens, The Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, Buckeye Elementary School District, Litchfield Elementary School District, area YMCAs, the Giving Tree, West Valley Mavericks, the West Valley Arts Council, the Verrado biking club, the Sonoran Institute, and the White Tank Library.

Hornback called for continued Charter Membership participation to support and enhance growth and impact of the Conservancy.


Steward Education and Volunteerism 2016 Recap

By Jane Fricke, Volunteer Coordinator

I appreciate the new Stewards who joined our organization this year because they have the same devotion for our mountain range as our organization. Our first New Steward Orientation (NSO) was in January 2016, with our second class in May, and our third NSO in October 2016.

This year we trained 50 new volunteers and 9 presenters total at our New Steward Orientation classes.

October 2016 New Steward Orientation Class

Since January, our Stewards have volunteered 1,433.30 hours.

  • Skyline Park – 210.45 hours
  • Verrado Community – 8.00 hours
  • White Tank Mountain Park – 252.45 hours
  • White Tank Mountains Conservancy – 962.00 hours

Events that we will have participated in through January 2017 are as follows:

A display table will be set up near the Library at White Tank Mountain Park for their Outdoor Adventure Day in January. We also had a display table at the Grand Opening in Skyline Regional Park one week later.

Verrado Hiking Club invited us to an event in February. We were represented at the Friends of White Tank Park’s annual Arts and Crafts Fair. In February, we began training out on the trails with Pathfinder and Citizen Patrol training and the Budding Botanist training. Since then, you have seen us out on the trails researching the flora and fauna of the beautiful Sonoran Desert mountain.

Verrado Leadership invited us to an event in March. April followed with us at March of the Fallen in Verrado. April was archaeology month; one of our stewards helped the Park Ranger with a display at the Waterfall Trailhead.

Teaching opportunities were requested of us at several locations. We attended the Sun City Grand Learning and in May, we were at the Rio Salado Community Learning Center on two different dates. In June, we had a display at the Peoria Library for their “Explore the Library” event, and we returned in October to Peoria Library to participate again. We asked Marley Park community to hike with us the first of October.

We helped all summer with watering the butterfly garden at WTMRP as well as helping Ranger Jessica with hikes and events. This included the Halloween Party Luminary walk. We were present in the mountains on National Take a Hike Day, November 17, 2016.

We visited several organizations to give presentations: Sundance Community, Tartesso and Cortessa Home Owners Association meetings, Sun City Festival Hiking Club, Sun City West Hiking Club, and Sun City Grand Hiking Club. We were present on the third Fridays of the month at Arizona Traditions; we had a table at EPCOR Health and Lifestyle Expo and were at Verrado Hometown Holiday event. Channel 10 Fox News interviewed Conservancy Director Les Meyers and our stewards one Friday morning.

We are looking forward to next year. We hope that you will join us and help us preserve and conserve the mountain range.

See you out on the trails.


Skyline to Celebrate First Anniversary on January 14

Bob Wisener

Come to Skyline Regional Park, Saturday, January 14 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. to exercise your New Year’s resolution of getting fit and keeping fit. This free outdoor fitness event is hosted in celebration of the park’s one-year anniversary. It will highlight activities such as hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and more.

Skyline Regional Park

Speak to professionals, participate in clinics and get resources to help you and your family enjoy fitness out in nature.

The event will offer:

  • Fitness demos from the popular “Fitness in the Park” aerobics program*
  • Mountain Bike Clinic
  • Outdoor recreation activities
  • FREE Healthcare screenings from doctors of Abrazo Medical Group Buckeye
  • Wildlife exhibits
  • White Tank Mountains Conservancy
  • Hiking, cycling, triathlete and trail running experts
  • Healthy refreshments
  • Giveaways and prizes

The first 100 visitors to the Skyline Celebration anniversary event will receive a commemorative shirt.

Skyline Regional Park is located two miles north of Interstate 10 and Watson Road interchange located at 2100 North Watson Road. Please carpool, parking is limited.

For more information become a Skyline Regional Park Facebook Friend, visit www.skylineregionalpark.com or the Skyline Recreation Coordinator at (623) 349-6350.


The White Tank Mountains Quietly Waiting

By Karen Krause

Waddell, AZ and White Tank Mountains Historian https://waddellhistory.wordpress.com/author/karenkrause/

Just when historic figures Pauline Weaver, Joseph R. Walker, Jack Swilling, and Henry Wickenburg were prospecting in central Arizona in 1863, the White Tank Mountains found their place on the first Arizona Territorial map. In fact, the mountain range is on almost every map from 1863 on.

Even before Phoenix shows up on maps as a “settlement,” the White Tank Mountains were an important part of Arizona’s history. The White Tank watering hole that gives the mountains their name was located at the northeast end of the range and was the only year-round source of water for miles. Early travelers had to know where it was.

1863 map inset showing the White Tank Watering Hole

The desert was 20 to 30 miles in each direction along the White Tank Wagon Road. This supply road stretched from Maricopa Wells, south of the Gila River, to Wickenburg and then continued north to the new territorial capital in Prescott. Remnants of the road are few, and the watering hole itself is now gone. The white granite cliffs surrounding the large natural tank caved in during a huge storm, obliterating the White Tank.

In the estimated one hundred and fifteen years since the White Tank has been gone, the White Tank Mountains have continued to quietly provide a valuable service to the far west valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area. The mountains were the site of hundreds of small mining claims. The water sources in the mountains allowed for ranching operation, including grazing cattle, sheep, and goats. The abundant wildlife made the White Tank Mountains a favorite destination for hunters, and nearby residents have used the mountains as a recreation destination for generations.

The White Tank Mountains are now at a critical stage in their history. The cities that surround the range are beginning to develop right up into the foothills. The perils of new development also bring opportunities of preservation. The White Tank Mountain Conservancy has been established with all the major players in the area. The group will have the structure and resources to do what needs to be done to study, preserve, protect, and document the flora, fauna, and ancient history of the area. Having been ignored by researches, scholars and even most valley residents, the goal is to bring the White Tank Mountains back to the importance the range once held in the valley.

I invite you to discover the White Tank Mountains for yourself. The spring wild flowers are gorgeous, along the many trails through the mountains’ parks. Stargazers head into the parks each time a major comet or meteor shower is expected. The petroglyphs left by ancient Hohokam are a wonder providing clues to how ancient people lived and worked. Hiking up to see the waterfall after a rain shower is an easy hike and gives a close-up look at petroglyphs along the barrier free portion of the trail. Nature photography, picnicking, hiking, camping, bicycling and horseback riding all can be experienced in the wonder of the Sonoran Desert almost in your own backyard.

Next time you stop to admire the colors of the sunset, look at the dark silhouette of the mountains at their base. The White Tank Mountains still stand quietly, waiting to be of importance to Arizona again.

More information about the Conservancy is available at their web site. Please visit and think about signing up to become a steward. I have along with more than fifty others in the past year! http://www.WTMConservancy.org.


Conservancy Announces Speaker’s Series at White Tank Mountain Regional Park

A speakers’ series being sponsored by the White Tank Mountains Conservancy Education and Outreach Committee will focus on “Living with Urban Wildlife.”

As development continues throughout the valley, people and the “desert critters” must adapt to live together in harmony. Please join us at the White Tank Regional Park Nature Center classroom on select Saturdays in January-March. Program descriptions, dates, and times follow,


Linda Bolon speaks locally to raise an awareness of the ecological importance of coyotes and how we can live more peacefully with our wild neighbors. She also works tirelessly to expose and ban coyote/wildlife killing contests and related events in Arizona. This program will be presented on January 7 at 11 a.m. at the White Tank Regional Park Nature Center Classroom at 11 a.m.


Who can go from 0 to 30 mph instantly, fly upside down and backwards, and fly over 500 miles without stopping? Meet the hummers! These magnificent little birds of the New World are full of surprises. Join Naturalist and park volunteer John Bland for a one-hour presentation to discover the lives of nature’s smallest birds and learn how you can enjoy and protect them in your own backyard. This program will be presented in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park Nature Center classroom on February 18 at 10 a.m.


Brett Cameron is an expert on all facets of beekeeping and is Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Consultation and Training. His presentation will focus on the critical role of bees as pollinators in agriculture and the dangers caused by feral bees building hives in and near our homes and communities. The key is striking a balance to help keep bees alive and yet protect ourselves and our families. The one-hour program will be on March 11 at 2 p.m.


Bryan Hughes is an avid herper and photographer in Arizona, field researcher, and a regular speaker at regional parks and reptile-related events in Arizona. His work can be seen on twitter (@rattlesnakeguy), and fieldherper.com, a photography-focused journal of snakes. He is also the owner/operator of a Rattlesnake Solutions, a rattlesnake-focused conservation and education business in Arizona. His program will be presented on March 25 at 2 p.m. in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park Nature Center classroom from 2-4 p.m. A display of Mr. Hughes’ reptiles will be available at 1 p.m. when the Nature Center snakes are fed. His presentation to follow.


Botanists Share Accomplishments

By Cass Blodgett and Dawn Goldman

Greetings White Tank Mountain Park Enthusiasts!

As we approach the end of our first collection year, Cass and I thought it would be fun to share some facts and figures of our work with you. Remember, there was a flora done of the White Tank in the early 70’s (“Vegetation & Flora of The White Tank Mountains Regional Park”, David J. Keil. Arizona - Nevada Academy of Sciences, Vol. 8, No. #1, February, 1973, pp.35-48). Everything we do is compared to that original flora.

Cass and I, along with volunteers, made 13 collection trips in 2016. From those trips, there were just under 400 plants collected between Skyline and White Tank. The original flora identified 332 species of vascular plants in White Tank. Thus far, we have collected plants from 40 Families, 133 Genera and 168 total taxa. We have added 17 additional taxa to the original flora list. They are as follows:

  • Brassica tournefortii Exotic
  • Lupinus succulentus From Skyline parking lot reveg area
  • Oncosiphon piluliferum Exotic
  • Encelia farinosa var.
  • phenicodonta Only at Skyline so far, Turnbuckle trail
  • Chaenactis carphoclinia Only at Skyline so far
  • Abronia villosa From Skyline parking lot disturbance area
  • Pennisetum ciliare Exotic, Skyline heavily infested, White Tanks mostly in channels
  • Pennisetum setaceum Exotic, Ford Canyon
  • Parietaria floridana Double checked floridana ID vs hespera, I still think its floridana
  • Calochortus kennedyi Keil found C. flexuosus but it was sterile so it may have been kennedyi
  • Centaurium calycosum Willow Spring growing out of the wet rock wall
  • Penstemon parryi Ford Canyon
  • Gilia scopulorum Scopulorum, Stellata, Flavocincta can be hard to distinguish
  • Cyperus torreyi May have been introduced into pond
  • Hydrocotyle verticillata May have been introduced into pond
  • Nymphaea mexicana Probably introduced into pond
  • Citrullus lanatus Watermelon from picnickers or from nearby farm at wildlife water tank

Sorry, no common names! Just know that at least seven of these are introduced or exotic species. Ouch! You can see the whole list thus far on SEINet and enjoy pictures of each plant.

Cass and I kind of split up the Park. He and his volunteers started their trips in the Ford Canyon area and I started around the South Trail/ Goat Camp area.

Cass made this Google Earth Map showing where our collections were.

So, what are the plans for next year? Good question! A lot depends on the winter rains. I hope to make it further up Goat Camp Trail. We will work out a plan, and you’ll be the first to know.

We really appreciate all the support you have shown for this project by coming out and traipsing with us, tools in hand, around the park! We can’t thank you enough for all your passion, enthusiasm, and the sharing of your knowledge of this jewel of a park.

Thank you stewards trained as “Budding Botanists” and Stacie Beute, Conservation Alliance Program Director at Desert Botanical Garden, we couldn’t do this without you!


Education and Outreach Committee Reviews 2016

By Alice Neal, Education and Outreach Chair

Paraphrasing Margaret Mead, it is truly amazing what a small group of dedicated people can do to change the world. The Education and Outreach Committee has met a total of nine times since its inception. Each participating steward has contributed to the success of the activities aligned with furthering the goals of the Conservancy. Several projects are underway and nearing fruition.

Addressing the problem of accommodating large school groups, the curriculum sub-committee is working on place-based, self-guided curriculum that will allow a teacher and her assistants to provide meaningful, standards-based instruction to students while at the parks. The target group for this year is grades 3-5. The content focuses on the guiding themes of the Conservancy: Water, Cultural Heritage, the Sonoran Desert, and Geology. Survey data is being gathered from teachers to capture areas of interest and need. A plan to proceed is in place.

Lon Sage, Parent and Community Coordinator for the Buckeye Elementary School District organized a Name the White Tank Mountains Mascot contest for their schools. A winner will be selected in late December and honored on January 14 at both Skyline and White Tank Parks. A stuffed animal will be selected to represent the chosen mascot and eventually sold for marketing and fundraising.

A series of four speakers will address the topic of Living with Urban Wildlife January through March. The presentations are in the Nature Center classroom at White Tank Regional Park and are as follows: Linda Bolon, Coyotes, January 7 at 11 a.m.; John Bland, Hummingbirds, February 18 at 10:a.m.; Brett Cameron, Bees, March 11 at 2 p.m. and Bryan Hughes, Rattlesnakes, March 25, 1:00. (See related article for descriptions)

The Conservancy will be partnering with both the YMCA Let’s Move Outdoors Project and the West Valley Mavericks to bring homeless or underprivileged youth to the park. We are seeking speakers and partners for these events. The Goddard School in Verrado invited the Conservancy to present to the children there. Steward Claire Lehto will be developing that project.

We continue to seek out and develop educational programs for the community and our stewards. Bob Hopper has videotaped Jessica Bland’s most recent petroglyphs hike on the Black Rock Loop and is collaborating with her to develop an educational video.

The Committee develops a quarterly newsletter with contributions emanating from a variety of sources. Steve Rugh has become the voice of Skyline providing progress reports and content for the newsletter.

This group is changing the world and making it better one endeavor at a time. Thank you!


Kids Write and Draw to Choose Mountain/Conservancy Mascot

Children from the Buckeye and Litchfield Elementary School Districts are learning about Sonoran Desert animals living in the White Tank Mountains through a White Tank Mountains Conservancy contest.

The students are drawing pictures and writing essays as they compete to select and name an animal that will represent the mountains and the Conservancy as the mascot. The list of animals to be chosen from includes the bobcat, mountain lion, gila monster, roadrunner, javelina, and desert tortoise

Lon Sage, Parent and Community Coordinator for the Buckeye Schools has partnered with the Conservancy Education and Outreach Committee to educate students grades 3-8 about animal species in the desert and to give them the opportunity to compete in the contest. Conservancy steward Tamara Reid has assisted.

The winner will be recognized at the Skyline Regional Park Anniversary Celebration and the White Tank Mountain Regional Park Outdoor Adventure Day on January 14, 2017.

A big thanks to the district coordinators, the teachers who guided the children through the process, and to the kids who participated! Watch the Conservancy website for contest results.



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