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For Immediate Release :: July 26, 2012

Oracle State Park Reopens Saturdays Starting Sept. 1

By Val Bembenek, Friends of Oracle State Park

Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education reopens to the public on Saturday, Sept. 1, and will offer an array of programs, lectures, workshops, and special events on Saturdays through the end of November.

School environmental education programs are being scheduled by reservation on weekdays during those months. The park was also open on Saturdays this spring after being closed for more than two years as a result of state budget cuts.

Bird walks, plant walks, guided hikes, and tours of the historic Kannally ranch house will resume. Workshops on basket making with native grass, papermaking with local plants, and nature-journal making will be scheduled as well. A full lineup of activities, most of them free with park admission, is being posted and updated regularly (see Park website).

Park hours are 8 AM to 5 PM and the gate fee is $7 per vehicle. The main entrance is off Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle, and the Arizona Trail and equestrian-access entrance is off W. American Ave. in Oracle. The park has many spots with shaded picnic tables.

A don’t miss event is set for October 13 when Desert Harvesters’ mesquite bean hammermill returns to grind people’s beans into sweet, healthy baking flour. But you need to harvest your mesquite pods now! CLICK HERE to find out how.

This desert harvest event will include the sale of mesquite flour baked goodies, other desert foods, children’s activities, related talks, a plant sale, and live music. The non-profit Friends group is subsidizing the hammermill rental cost and special live band performance as part of its continuing support of the park’s environmental education mission.

The Park’s signature field trip opportunities for school groups and scout troops will be offered on weekdays by reservation.The Oracle Adventure Program is for grades 1-3 and uses the five senses to explore easy trails. The Oracle Odyssey offers grades 4-6 an opportunity to learn about habitat and the interrelationship between plants, animals, and people.

Contact Jennifer Rinio, Park Ranger, at jrinio at azstateparks•gov for information about the programs, to schedule a field trip, and to learn more about volunteering and training to be a school program guide.

Oracle State Park is a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge featuring the historic Kannally ranch house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. From the ranch house patio and on many of the 15 miles of hiking trails, visitors can enjoy sweeping views of the Santa Catalina foothills, San Pedro River Valley, and Galiuro Mountain Range.

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Photo credits (clockwise)
1. John Hernandez/CopperArea.com
2. Arizona Foothills Magazine
3-4. Karl Pogany
5. Oracle State Park