Friends of Madera Canyon Update
By Phil Gantt
How many of you have been to Madera Canyon recently? As the monsoon rains end and the Canyon says goodbye to its migrating bird visitors, fall becomes a wonderful time to visit our neighboring mountains. The cottonwoods and sycamores along Madera Creek provide memories of the fall colors found back East. The dry 50 to 60 degree air invigorates both the casual walker and the ambitious hiker. Why not pack a lunch and spend an hour or two enjoying nature at one of the beautiful picnic sites?
Madera Canyon is certainly a jewel to be enjoyed by the people of Green Valley and Sahuarita. That was not the case about 25 years ago. The accumulation of houses, cabins, shacks, casual camp sites and their resulting garbage and junk over 80 years or so had made the Canyon pretty much an eyesore. The Forest Service, with only a dozen or so Rangers assigned to maintain the area below Tucson, was overwhelmed. It was then, in 1987, that the people of Green Valley stood up to protect their Canyon. They formed “Friends Of Madera Canyon” whose purpose is to heighten the public interest in conservation by stressing the vital relationship between water, plants, wildlife and Man in this pristine riparian area. They assist the Forest Service in the maintenance and cleanliness of the Canyon, providing a rewarding recreational opportunity to all visitors. For 22 years, Friends Of Madera Canyon has helped to make our Canyon a clean and beautiful Recreation Area and has provided educational opportunities for both children and adults interested in nature.
Almost 500 households consisting of about 1000 individuals are members of the Friends. Most live in Southern Arizona, but others live throughout the U.S. and Canada. Each year they perform over 10,000 hours of volunteer work on behalf of the Canyon. A few of the activities FOMC volunteers participate in are: providing nature walks for area 4th grade classes; staffing the Visitor Information Station on weekends; hosting outings for residents of local retirement homes; cleaning the picnic areas every Monday morning; offering adult educational programs in the Canyon such as wildflower, bird and insect walks and organizing work crews for various maintenance needs. Other events sponsored by the Friends include community forums and, of course, the popular ”Music In The Canyon” series.
Through fundraising events, grants and generous donations, FOMC has been able to provide almost $1,000,000 for facilities and other uses in the Canyon over the past 22 years. They include the Kent Spring Center renovation, Canyon toilets and water fountains, the Bud Gode Interpretive Nature Trail, bridges, including the new one at the Amphitheater and trailhead information signs. We also print over 50,000 brochures for distribution each year and offer college scholarships to high school seniors seeking a nature oriented career.
Swinging the new Amphitheater bridge into place - Wally Lamb