ARIZONA STATE PARKS: For Immediate Release
Managing and conserving Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our Parks and through our Partners. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Bilbrey at (602) 542-1996 or (602) 228-8518 or Monica Enriquez at (602) 542-6997. Contact by Email: pio(at)azstateparks.gov

Oracle State Park Opens for Weekends Year-Round; Event Schedule through April

(Phoenix, Arizona - April 9, 2014) - Beginning in April 2014, Oracle State Park Center for Environmental Education will be open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round. For the past few years, the park has only been open on weekends seasonally from October through April.

Executive Director Bryan Martyn said, "The Friends of Oracle have been instrumental in working with Arizona State Parks on getting the park open year-round. Without this group of dedicated volunteers we would not be able to staff the park for this amount of time."

Oracle State Park is located northeast of Tucson in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains. The Park is a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge, environmental education center and day-use recreation park. The Park features a diversity of animals, plant species and rock formations. There are also oak tree-shaded washes, mesquite scrub habitats and riparian woodlands with manzanita and beargrass.

On weekdays, the park has school programs by reservation by calling (520) 896-2425 and on weekends is open for hiking, offers tours of the Kannally Ranch House and holds events (see calendar through the end of April below). Group facilities are also available for weddings and other group gatherings. The Park Entrance Fee is $7 per vehicle for up to four adults. For more information about Oracle State Park call (520) 896-2425 or visit AZStateParks.com/parks/ORAC.

April 12: Boulder Scramble: Meet at the ranch house at 8:30 a.m. and join Naturalist volunteer, Rick Gagnon, for short hikes to explore up close some of the boulder piles along park trails. No reservation is needed. Free with park admission.

April 12: Wildlife Painting at Oracle State Park: Meet on the upper patio of the Kannally Ranch House and join the fun from 10 a.m. to Noon. Bring your own art materials or use what is provided to explore your creativity and make your own painting. The session is open to all ages, and facilitated by Keefer Gagnon, 8th grade National Junior Honor Society student at Mountain Vista School in Oracle. Please call for a reservation at (520) 896-2425.

April 12: Bi-National Landscape Restoration in the Sky Islands: Join Carianne Campbell, the RESTORE Program Manager, at Noon in the living room of the Kannally Ranch House for a virtual tour of where they have been working and upcoming projects. Free with park admission. Please call for a reservation at (520) 896-2425. Sky Island Alliance (SIA) is a conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the rich natural heritage of native species and habitats in the Sky Island region of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. A cornerstone of SIA's conservation successes lie in the on-the-ground work of the RESTORE Program, which works cooperatively with government agencies, private landowners, and a corps of capable volunteers on both sides of the US-MX international border to increase ecosystem resilience to the stresses of land management and climate change.

Sunday, April 13: Southwest Landscape Drawing Workshop with Sedona Artist Joella Jean Mahoney from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: No drawing experience necessary. Mahoney is a lifelong painter and has her home and studio in Sedona. Her vivid, powerful, large-scale paintings are exhibited nationally and internationally and are in many public and private collections. Mahoney's paintings are all inspired by places she has hiked or backpacked. In 1985, the State of Arizona and the Arizona State Parks Foundation invited her to produce a painting that would commemorate the dedication of Oracle State Park and establish the visual identity of the park. A print of the Oracle State Park painting, part of her Monsoon Sky Series, is currently on display at the Kannally Ranch House. Reservation is required by calling (520) 896-2425. Free with park admission.

Saturday, April 19: Guided Hike and Geolog: Led by Gaston Meloche and guest Geologist. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at the ranch house parking lot for a 5 to 6-mile hike. A reservation is required. Please call Gaston to register by 4 p.m. the previous day at (520) 638-5404. Free with park entrance fee.

Saturday, April 19: Reptile Walk: Join Herpetologist Ed Moll for a presentation at 11 a.m. at the Kannally Ranch House. A reptile walk to find and identify lizards and other reptiles at the park follows the presentation. Reservation is required by calling (520) 896-2425. Free with park admission.

Saturday, April 19: Wilderness Talk: Join Rod Mondt of the Sky Island Alliance at 3 p.m. in the living room of the ranch house for a wilderness talk. The presentation is about wilderness and protected areas on this year's 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Reservation is suggested, free with park admission.

Sunday, April 20: Guided Plant Walk: Join Chuck LeFevre at 11 a.m. for a guided plant walk. Meet at the Ranch House office at Free with park admission. No reservation is needed.

Saturday, April 26: Ask Your Master Gardener: The Saddlebrooke Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kannally Ranch House. If you have a plant you want identified, or bug or pest issues, bring a picture or a sample. Otherwise, just stop by to see their display and pick up useful garden tips. Master Gardeners are dedicated volunteers who assist the Cooperative Extension Service by providing home horticulture information that is endorsed by the University of Arizona.

Saturday, April 26: Garden Talk: The Native Mesquites: Garden Talk with presenter Kathie Griffin, a Saddlebrooke Master Gardener, is at 11:30 a.m. at the Kannally Ranch House. The presentation will familiarize participants with these amazing desert legumes found in the park. Part 1 - The Tree of Life: Identification of the velvet and honey mesquites, growing patterns, and natural enemies. Part 2 - The Value of the Mesquite: Its importance to animals, plants, the soil, and to humans. Please call for a reservation at (520) 896-2425. Free with park entrance fee.

Sunday, April 27: Music in the Park: Bring your own picnic and enjoy an afternoon of live music at the Kannally Ranch House upper patio. Creosote Ring returns to perform a mix of bluegrass, blues, and eclectic Americana.

Tours of the Historic Kannally Ranch House: Tours are offered at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Participants should check-in at the Office/Gift Shop. Reservations are NOT required. The tour lasts about 45-minutes and is free with park admission. On the tour, visitors will learn the stories behind its hand-carved corbels, stenciled walls, hand-formed fireplace, French casement windows and cozy ranch kitchen. The Kannally Ranch House is a four-level pueblo-revival adobe home with Moorish and Mediterranean influences. It was built by the Kannally ranching family and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The displays include family photos, furnishings and several paintings by "self-taught" cowboy artist Lee Kannally. Picnicking on the patios is welcome.

Environmental Education Field Trip Programs: Environmental education programs for school children, first through sixth grades, are scheduled by reservation on weekdays by calling (520) 896-2425. Thousands of students have learned important environmental principles in these ranger/volunteer-led programs over the last two decades.

Hiking: Oracle State Park has trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty including a four-mile section of the Arizona Trail that transects the park. Bring your camera, binoculars, notebook, sketchbook, birdbook and leash for your pet.

For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703). Campsite or cave tour reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the Reservation Call Center at (520) 586-2283. Open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.

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