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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HART PRAIRIE PRESERVE

HART PRAIRIE PRESERVE The Nature Conservancy, Flagstaff Before the arrival of European settlers on the western slopes of Flagstaff’s San Francisco Mountain, Hart Prairie was a healthy patchwork of meadows, willow-cluttered wetlands, rings of aspens and a smattering of pines where regular low-intensity natural fires and a community of top-tier predators helped keep the ecological balance in check. Over the past hundred years, the effects of altered hydrolics, fire suppression, and the introduction of invasive plants and non-indigenous animals have transformed the landscape. In 1994, 245 acres of Hart Prairie along with an historic lodge and guest cabins were donated to The Nature Conservancy. Since then, the organization has set out to restore the alpine meadows to their former natural state through creative collaboration with the forest service, local landowners and other conservation groups. This ambitious restoration project is a work-in-progress and is open to visitors only by guided nature walks offered every Sunday from June 13th to October 10th (except September 12th). The walks are easy, last roughly 90-minutes and cover topics such as topography, willow biology, and wet meadow dynamics. LENGTH: variable, but about a mile RATING: easy & educational ELEVATION: 8,500 feet BEST SEASONS: June - October GETTING THERE: Tour groups meet at 10:00 a.m. sharp at the Fort Valley Plaza Shopping Center, 1000 N. Humphreys St. at the southwest corner by the guardrail. Reservations are not required. Participants must wear sturdy shoes and bring sun protection, rain gear and plenty of water. No pets or food are allowed in the preserve. Fees: Tours are free, however, donations are appreciated. INFORMATION: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/arizona/preserves/art15233.html (928) 774-8892 or e-mail hartprairie@tnc.org.

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