Hassayampa River Preserve to Close for Summer Months
The Nature Conservancy
Schedule Prescribed to Lower Fire Risk, Rest Habitat and Protect Nesting Birds
The Nature Conservancy in Arizona announced today that it will close its Hassayampa River Preserve to visitors for the summer beginning Monday, June 14, 2004 to minimize the risk of fire damage to sensitive habitat, historic facilities and drought-stressed nesting birds. The nature preserve is scheduled to reopen to the public on Wednesday, October 13, 2004.
In nature, fire plays a vital role in maintaining habitats that many kinds of plants and animals depend upon for their reproduction, growth and survival. Fire suppression has allowed fuel loads to increase to unnaturally high levels, resulting in severe fire danger conditions. These fires may also harm riparian and aquatic systems as well as the plants and wildlife that depend on them.
According to Marty Lawrence, Preserve Operations Manager, "For many years, we have reduced visiting hours during the slow summer months to give nature a rest, but this year's extremely dry conditions and increased fuel loads raise the risk of very damaging fires. We have extremely dry conditions bordering the river corridor where several species of rare or imperiled nesting birds have sought shelter. One of these species is the red-shouldered hawk and the Hassayampa River Preserve is its only known nesting location in the state. We think that the summer closing is the best option for protecting these birds, other wildlife, the public and our historic visitor center. In the meantime, our work to further reduce fuel loads and create defensible space around both preserve holdings and neighboring properties will continue this summer, in cooperation with the landowners, Bureau of Land Management and Wickenburg Fire Department."
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. In Arizona, the Conservancy has been actively engaged in saving the state's last great places for nearly 40 years. Together with communities, private citizens, businesses and public agencies, it has helped to protect more than one million acres of significant habitat statewide. The Conservancy also owns and manages more than a dozen nature preserves in Arizona. Of these, six are open to the public for bird watching, hiking and nature studies. For more information on The Nature Conservancy in Arizona and how to visit its preserves visit our web site nature.org/arizona.
For more information, or to contact The Nature Conservancy, see their website at: www.nature.org
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