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Cave Creek & Carefree Seek Public Input

bike 1Cave Creek and Carefree residents are invited to comment on recommendations to improve road and pedestrian safety, parking and bicyclist paths during a Wednesday, Sept. 10, meeting in Carefree.

The Northeast Valley towns have become an increasing draw for bicyclists, bikers and equestrians on weekends. The towns’ big revenue-raising events, such as the Carefree Christmas Festival, draws motorists from around the Valley and parking is at a premium.

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The Maricopa Association of Governments-guided study, launched by both towns in 2012, looks at increasing parking and improving traffic flow during events, in addition to safety improvements concerning sidewalks, bike paths, traffic signals and signage.

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Other improvements suggested:

  • Encouraging pedestrian activity in the Cave Creek core and Carefree Town Center with additional seating, shade and bike storage.
  • Expanding the trail system for equestrians.
  • Developing bicycle and pedestrian links between Cave Creek and Carefree.
  • Continuing development of the regional bike network on Cave Creek, Tom Darlington and Pima roads and developing a community bike loop around Black Mountain.

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The $250,000 study is funded with $5,000 from each town, $215,000 from the Maricopa Association of Governments and $25,000 from the Maricopa County Department of Transportation.

The final draft of the study is expected in October or November. Both towns can use the study in seeking grants and federal funds to offset future costs of any options outlined in the study, said Gary Neiss, Carefree’s town administrator.

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Transportation study public meeting

What: Final public meeting about a Cave Creek/Carefree study on transportation issues and needs.

Time: 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10.

Where: Carefree Council Chambers, 100 Easy St., Carefree.


Sonja Haller, The Republic | azcentral.com 9:22 a.m. MST September 2, 2014

To See Homes and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor: www.CarefreeProperty.com

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Saguaro-fruit harvest carries on Arizona tribal tradition

Brittany Hargrave, The Republic | azcentral.com 11:27 p.m. MST July 6, 2014

 saguaro fruit harvest photo 1 070714Volunteers and staff members from the Desert Botanical Garden use traditional harvesting equipment to knock saguaro fruit off a cactus in the P.A. Seitts Preserve in Cave Creek’s Go John Canyon last month. (Photo: Sonia Perillo/Desert Foohills Land Trust)

The sun has just cleared the Cave Creek mountaintops when two dozen volunteers arrive at the desert preserve. It is 7 a.m., and they are trying to beat the summer heat.

Over the next two hours, they harvest nearly 900 saguaro fruits, using saguaro-rib picking poles up to 18 feet tall.

Cheers punctuate the otherwise quiet morning as harvesters dislodge the palm-sized fruits from the crowns of the towering cactuses.

For more than 15 years,the Desert Botanical Garden and Desert Foothills Land Trust have coordinated a nearly annual saguaro-fruit harvest, usually at the P.A. Seitts Preserve in Cave Creek’s Go John Canyon.

The harvest, which is rooted in Tohono O’odham tradition, provides enough fruit for the garden to freeze for show-and-tell purposes throughout the year, said Kate Navarro, interpretation coordinator for the Desert Botanical Garden and an organizer of this year’s harvest, held in late June.

“We only do the harvests when we need more fruit, and last year we had more than enough from the year before, so we didn’t do a harvest,” Navarro said.

The saguaro fruit is generally ripe between late May and early July, said Lois Liston, a Tohono O’odham traditional-arts teacher at Ha:san Preparatory & Leadership School in Tucson.

Harvesters maneuver the poles, shaped like a “T” with crosspieces, in push-pull motions to knock the fruit off the saguaros.

“It feels like a small victory to get the fruit off,” said Susan Carrier, a volunteer with the Desert Botanical Garden. “It is also much more difficult than I thought it would be to get the pole in the right position to knock off the fruit. It’s like the crane game: You feel like you’re so close, but you have to have just the right position.”

Another Desert Botanical Garden volunteer, Nicole Girard, said the lightweight pole can be unwieldy.

“Just even trying to hold the stick up high is much harder than you would think,” she said. “It’s not even just the weight, but also the balancing.”

Green with a pink tint on the outside, the saguaro fruit is bright red on the inside. It can hold up to 2,000 tiny black seeds, Navarro said. Each saguaro produces about 200 fruits each season.

“(The fruit) is even juicier than a strawberry,” said Pam Levin, volunteer-support coordinator with the Desert Botanical Garden. “It is pulpy. It’s somewhat sweet — not like candy, but sweet for a desert culture.”

The Desert Botanical Garden used to allow volunteers to taste the fruit but recently stopped the practice, Navarro said.

“We steer away from that now, with worries about allergies and people being served something that isn’t as good as it should be,” she said.

For Tohono O’odham tribal members, harvesting saguaro fruit is a way to celebrate their new year and “connect with their identity,” Liston said. The fruit-harvest ritual traditionally precedes a rain ceremony, in which tribal members sing and drink ceremonial wine made from the saguaro fruit’s fermented juice to encourage rainfall.

saguaro fruit harvest photo 2 070714A saguaro-rib harvesting pole is used to dislodge fruit. (Photo: Sonia Perillo/Desert Foohills Land Trust)

 ”The harvest has a connection to who we are and to what we are blessed with by following through with this on a yearly basis,” Liston said.

Tribal members also use the fruit and its seeds to make jams and syrups, as well as biscuit cakes, Liston said.

Since the early 1960s, fewer tribal members have participated in the fruit-harvest tradition, Liston said. It is now mostly carried on by small family clusters. The tradition’s erosion came after tribal members stopped farming and took jobs off the reservation, and after children left for school, Liston said.

“We don’t get time to go harvest at jobs, because it is not acknowledged as a cultural thing or a very important thing,” she said. “We’re not as free to do that.”

Researchers wishing to harvest saguaro fruit must obtain landowner permission and a permit through the Arizona Department of Agriculture, said Laura Oxley, the department’s spokeswoman. Non-researchers must only follow landowner regulations.

Saguaro National Park allows visitors to harvest saguaro fruit in small amounts for immediate consumption without a permit, as long as the fruit isn’t removed from the park, said Andy Fisher, the park’s spokeswoman. If harvesters do wish to take fruit out of the park to process, they need a special-use permit to do so.

Saguaro-fruit harvesting is generally banned on state-trust land, said Bill Boyd, legislative-policy administrator for the Arizona State Land Department.

“Theoretically, someone could lease a bunch of trust land and have a saguaro-fruit farm, but to my knowledge, no one does that,” he said.

Saguaro picking is also generally banned on state park land, said Ellen Bilbrey, an Arizona State Parks spokeswoman.

“Permits can be written for specific harvesting projects,” she said. “It is rare.”

To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com


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Annual ‘Sonoran Stars’ fundraiser benefits Desert Foothills Land Trust 4/26


Guests to this year’s 19th annual “Sonoran Stars” event to benefit Desert Foothills Land Trust will be treated to a fabulous evening on Saturday, April 26.

The nonprofit organization, which works to protect the landscape of the fragile Sonoran Desert, will once again hold the annual event at the Los Cedros USA equestrian facility at 8700 E. Black Mountain Road in north Scottsdale.

“We’re very excited to again host our event at Los Cedros. It is a stunning venue with immaculate stables, a large courtyard and lush gardens,” said Sonia Perillo, Desert Foothills Land Trust’s executive director.

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“Our guests will be treated to an entertaining horse show, classic Western music by the Bill Ganz Western Band, and a gourmet dinner by Creations in Cuisine chef Tony Rea. We will have an exciting live and silent auction, and will, of course, continue with our tradition of the release of a rehabilitated owl by our partners at Wild At Heart.”

The Land Trust’s conservation efforts play a vital role in protecting the Sonoran Desert landscape that supports the community and businesses.


“We simply cannot accomplish our important mission without the generous support of Sonoran Stars sponsors, guests and other donors,” said Perillo.

“Sonoran Stars” begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail hour and silent auction, and features an open bar and appetizers. Guests will then enjoy the horse show and dinner.

As dinner winds down, auctioneer Letitia Fry will conduct a high-energy live auction that will include a number of unique items and experiences.

Tickets are $250 per person. Sponsor tables for 10 guests and premium sponsor packages are available. Guests are encouraged to dress in casual or Western attire and to anticipate cool evening temperatures.

Valet parking will be available onsite. To reserve tickets, visit www.dflt.org/sonoran_stars.php or call 480-488-6131.

more information……

To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com

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Annual Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament 4/14


To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com
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Parade in Cave Creek…Fiesta Days Schedule


The Cave Creek Fiesta Days™ Pro-Rodeo, along with annual Golf Tournament, Parade, Dances and Mutton Bustin all comprise what is commonly referred to as the “Fiesta Days™ Rodeo. This event offers premier entertainment for all ages every spring in Cave Creek, Carefree and the greater Foothills area. The Cave Creek Fiesta Days Pro-Rodeo weekend has become the largest attended event in our area. These festivities have been held in April since 1978.

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Cave Creek Fiesta Days Rodeo Schedule of Events:

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26th: 4th Annual Fiesta Days * Dan Lebsock Golf Tournament & Fundraiser, followed by Dinner & Awards Banquet.

THURSDAY, MARCH 27th: Women’s Pro Rodeo events, noon to 6:00pm

FRIDAY, MARCH 28th: PRCA Slack Performance at noon.  First PRCA performance at 7:30pm *Pink Night* benefiting cancer charities.  Friday night rodeo dance after the rodeo sponsored by the Cave Creek Tap Haus featuring Young Country.

SATURDAY, MARCH 29th: Fiesta Days Rodeo Parade at 9:00am.  Mutton Bustin’ Competition and Finals at 2:00pm.  Second full PRCA performance at 7:30pm.  Rodeo Dance at Harold’s after rodeo performance featuring Mogollon and the Crown Kings.

SUNDAY, MARCH 30th: Final PRCA performance at 2:00pm *Wrangler National Patriot Day* benefiting American military veterans and their families.


Please note, the Friday & Saturday performance start times are now 7:30pm!

For rodeo tickets:  http://tickets.ticketforce.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=1225

To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com



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Cave Creek Fiesta Days Rodeo March 28-30!

Cave Creek’s only professional rodeo once again is stampeding into town, providing a weekend full of competitions, entertainment and Western fun.

reodo barrel

Fans can watch a variety of rough-stock and timed events, along with a “mutton bustin’ ” sheep-riding competition, Friday through Sunday, March 28-30, at the Cave Creek Memorial Arena. As many as 18,000 people are expected to attend.

The rodeo — sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and presented by Sanderson Ford in Glendale — will bring more than 300 professional contestants participating in such events as barrel racing, bareback and saddle-bronc riding, tie-down roping and steer wrestling.

“We are expecting the same quality and caliber of contestants this year,” said Traci Casale, 2014 rodeo president. “Who wouldn’t want to be here? The weather is great this time of year and it’s a great place to rodeo.”


Rodeo dances will be held Friday evening at Tap Haus in Cave Creek, with live entertainment from the four-member country band Young Country, and on Saturday with performances by local bands Mogollon and the Crown Kings at Harold’s Corral.

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday.

“The parade goes through the heart of Cave Creek and is a great community event for everyone,” Casale said. “It’s great for the merchants, the restaurants, the town, the businesses and more. A huge crowd comes out to see this great event.”

Guests can expect to see such rodeo contestants as Taos Muncy, Jake Barnes, Sherry Cervi and Ryan Gray compete for cash prizes.

Gray, the 2013 Cave Creek bareback champion, has ridden professionally for 10 years and is an eight-time Wrangler National Finals qualifier.

“It is a fun time for everyone,” said Gray, a Texan whose wife, Lacy, is from Cave Creek. “Rodeos are a great sport for families, and it’s a great family-friendly event. It’s all about heritage and how our country was founded with cowgirls and cowboys.”

Gray will compete in the bareback competition for the second year in a row.

………more info

To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com
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Carefree Courting the Phoenix Art Museum

Carefree hopes that the Phoenix Art Museum will consider a satellite location Town officials and developer Ed Lewis have been courting the museum for a few months.

PNI SR Carefree Development 0220

A rendering for a Phoenix Art Museum location being considered for Carefree. Butte Development.

The museum is being coveted as the anchor for the $90 million Butte Development of luxury condos and retail shops in Carefree’s town center. The development will include 80 condos and 50,000 square feet of retail and could break ground by the end of this year if the art museum comes on board. The proposed museum would be 10,000 square feet and plans include an exhibition schedule that rotates seven times per year.

“One of the things up here is that when you talk to people … is that people participate very broadly with the arts,” said Carefree Vice Mayor Les Peterson. “(The museum) fits right in with us and how we envision ourselves. It struck a chord with us.”

If approved, the museum would complement the town’s efforts to create a villagelike atmosphere similar to Santa Fe or Carmel, Calif., which would draw people not only from surrounding communities but tourists in other parts of the Valley.

Jim Ballinger, Phoenix Art Museum director, said the museum board is being cautious about the idea.

“The issue is, in one word, sustainability. Is there a business plan that can demonstrate this satellite can sustain itself through earned and contributed income?” Ballinger said. “Our board has a financial responsibility to the Phoenix Art Museum … and we’re still trying to come out of the recession. The board really wants to be able to know what their risk level is.”

Ballinger called the closing of the Heard Museum North in north Scottsdale after 15 years a “loud message” that “listening to your stomach” and “what you’re hearing” about future success of a satellite location is not enough.

Heard North, just south of the Carefree border in The Summit at Scottsdale, is scheduled to close in April. Among the reasons cited by Heard officials was that anticipated development in the surrounding area did not occur during the recession and many of the homes in the area are owned by part-time residents. Heard North operated for 15 years, first at the nearby el Pedregal shopping center, then at The Summit at Scottsdale since 2007.

Under the proposed art museum deal, the town of Carefree would buy a structure, built by Lewis, at cost and lease it to the museum for $1 a year. Town officials want a long-term commitment from the museum.

Ballinger has met this month with northeast Valley non-profits and the philanthropic community and will continue to discuss the potential for annual museum memberships, continuing donations and participation. “Will people from Anthem come over, will people from DC Ranch come over? I don’t know that yet,” he said.

At some point, a marketing study may need to be done that provides hard data, he said……. more……….

To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com
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Take a Hike….Cave Creek Regional Mountain Park

creek photo 010214GOT TIME…Maricopa County’s regional park system attracts thousands of visitors each year. With over 120,000 acres in the park system, there is plenty to see and explore. However, sometimes visiting a new place can be a little overwhelming when you don’t know what’s available. To make sure your visit to Cave Creek Regional Park is a pleasant experience, we’ve pulled together a couple of basic itineraries to get you started on your journey.
I have this much time available Here’s what I can experience
1 – 2 hour visit:
  • Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Overton/Clay Mine Trails to the Clay Mine. The trails are rated easy to moderate.
  • Outdoor enthusiasts with a minimal amount of time to spend in the park can also hike the Overton/Slate/Jasper/Go-John Trails in approximately 1-2 hours. The trails are 1.7 miles in length and are rated easy to moderate.
  • Stop by the nature center to say hello to the friendly staff. While you’re there, check out the critter viewing center and peruse the products in the retail area. Whether you need a bottle of water, a postcard for a relative back home or are looking for a book on the Sonoran desert, the nature center has you covered!
    Pack a lunch, round up your friends and family and enjoy a picnic under a shaded ramada or in the picnic areas.
  • Attend an interpretive program hosted by the park ranger. Most interpretive programs are included in your day-use park entry fee.
2-3 hour visit:
  • If you have a couple of hours to spend in the park, you could hike the Overton/Go-John Loop in 2-3 hours. These trails combined make for approximately a 3.5-mile hike and the suggested trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty level.
  • OR, hike the Go-John/Quartz/Slate/Jasper Trails. At approximately 3.3-miles, these trails range from easy to moderate in difficulty level.
  • guided_hiking
3 hour visit:
  • Looking for something out of the ordinary to photograph? Then you won’t want to miss Cave Creek’s Michelin Man which is found along the Slate Trail approximately .5-miles from the Slate Trailhead.
  • If you have a little time, venture farther (1.5-miles) down the Slate Trail to the Flume Trail to visit the “flume”. Together, the trails range in level of difficulty from easy to moderate. These are shared use trails so, if you encounter an equestrian user, please move slightly off the trail so the rider and horse can pass safely.
4-5 hour visit:
  • At 5.8-miles in length, the Go-John Loop is the most popular trail in the park. The trail receives a moderate to difficult rating and is a favorite for those who prefer to take their exercise routine outdoors. During the springtime, those who recreate on the Go-John Trail are treated to Mother Nature’s finest as she blankets the mountainsides with beds of yellow, orange and purple wildflowers.
  • spur cross Wildflowers
Ranger Picks:
  • Have you ever wondered what a scorpion or rattlesnake eats? Join the ranger for one of the many “Feeding Frenzy” programs offered at the park.
  • Are you interested in learning archery? Several times each month the park offers an Archery 101 course where participants can learn how to shoot a bow and arrow in a fun and safe environment. This program is included in the park entry fee and all equipment is provided. Registration is required and classes fill up quickly.
  • During the cooler seasons, treat your family and friends to a horseback ride along a scenic trail in the park. Trail rides range from one hour on up, depending upon package. Vendor on-site and can easily accommodate impromptu rides.
  • Don’t miss…the Ranger highly recommends the Clay Mine hike/program. This program highlights the history of the mine and how its contents were used to “cure what ails ya” back in the day. The park supplies the hard hats; however, you must bring your own water, flashlights and sturdy shoes. This is an “open house” format so feel free to come and go at your convenience. Please check the calendar of events for program dates and times.

Cave Creek Regional Park

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Scenic Drive 15 miles to Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Lake

Bartlett Lake, located about 58 miles from central Phoenix, provides ample opportunities to boat, fish, hike and camp. 

An easy way to experience the almost oxymoronic sight of a lush desert is to drive east from Carefree, past bare-rock bluffs and expansive vistas out to Bartlett Lake (technically Bartlett Reservoir), a liquid sapphire that sparkles on a sunny day.

 Things to note along the way:

Big Earl’s Greasy Eats: Burgers, big and fully loaded, are the main attraction at this delightfully retro eatery, once a 1950s-era gas station. Forget the calories and go for the Big Earl Burger ($5.75), a hefty patty of Angus beef served on a grilled bun with pickles, onion, shredded lettuce, tomato and Earl’s special sauce. Add a side of sweet-potato fries ($2.75) and a genuine malted milkshake, and you’re good for many miles.

Details: 7 a.m.-midnight Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays. 6135 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek. 480-575-7889,bigearlsgreasyeats.com .

Jojoba Trail: This scenic, 1.3-mile trail stretches from the Rattlesnake Cove Recreation Site to the Jojoba Boating Site along the lake’s western shore. You can start the hike from either end; Rattlesnake Cove has restrooms, drinking water and extensive picnic facilities. Either way, you’ll enjoy grand views of the cactus-studded landscape along the lake and the Mazatzal Mountains to the east. From the lake, drive about 0.7 mile north on Forest Road 459 to the signed turnoff to Rattlesnake Cove, turn east and continue about a half-mile to the large parking area.

Campgrounds: There are several at or near the lake, from Riverside, at the far-southern end (on the Verde River below the dam), to Bartlett Flat, in the Yellow Cliffs area to the north. Whatever the campgrounds may lack in amenities is more than made up for in splendid scenery.

Details: 480-595-3300, www.fs.usda.gov/tonto .

Don’t miss: With more than 2,800 surface acres, Bartlett Reservoir is larger than Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake combined…… more…….

To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com

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Adventure of Bliss – Cave Creek Regional Park

Adventure of bliss: Cave Creek Regional Park doesn’t let abandoned mines ruin its natural beauty


By MARK COWLING, Florence Reminder

CAVE CREEK — Some 140 years ago, prospectors came here hoping to find gold. They often settled for silver or copper. There are more than 50 abandoned mines in what is now Cave Creek Regional Park.

blog photo nature center 022614

Nature Center

Visitors still flock here — several hundred each month this time of year — not with dreams of riches but for a chance to enjoy the peace, quiet and unspoiled beauty of the Upper Sonoran Desert just minutes from the city.

The 2,922-acre park ranges in elevation from 2,000 to 3,060 feet. It was under control of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management before becoming a Maricopa County park 21 years ago.

It offers more than 11 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

The park’s trails are popular for the dramatic elevations and spectacular views of the surrounding plains. All trails are multi-use unless otherwise designated. Trails run from less than a quarter-mile to a few miles and range from easy to difficult.

If you are looking for an easy, relatively short hike, park personnel recommend the Slate Trail. For a longer, more challenging hike, the 5.8-mile Go John Trail is an excellent choice. It’s also a loop, so there’s no need to backtrack.

Always remember to carry plenty of water and let someone know where you are going.

Go John Trail

Go John Trail

Horseback riding

Cave Creek Trail Rides, a contracted vendor in the park, offers horseback rides from October through April. The company says its horses are gentle and experienced and provide family-friendly, safe rides that are good for beginners and also enjoyable for experienced riders.

Their rides are a great way to view the Go John Mountains and the Phoenix Valley below. Visit www.cavecreektrailrides.com or phone 623-742-6700.

As with all Maricopa County parks, visitors also are welcome to ride their own horses. All trail users are encouraged to stay on designated trails and practice proper trail etiquette. A staging area for visitors’ horses is available.


To See Home and Land in Cave Creek and shop the MLS like a Realtor, www.CarefreeProperty.com

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