Impassioned conservation pursuit emerges through Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust

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Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust Chairman Fred Pakis addresses the patrons assembled Oct. 9 at Sanctuary Camelback Resort & Spa in the Town of Paradise Valley. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

The energy of a reinvigorated pursuit of the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust filled the air at Sanctuary Camelback Resort & Spa Wednesday, Oct. 9 as local environmental conservationists gathered to support each other and the idea of keeping land in its natural state.

“We are all here tonight because of our love of the mountains,” said Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust Chairman Fred Pakis at the onset of the donor recognition event. “We don’t always take the time to appreciate the beauty of where we call home --- we would not be a Valley without our mountains.”

--- Fred Pakis, Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust chairman

Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, 5700 E. McDonald Drive, played host to nearly 50 Mountain Preserve patrons honored for their support of conservancy efforts throughout the Town of Paradise Valley and neighboring municipal peaks.

Founded in 1997, the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust --- which operates under the provisions of 501(c)3 nonprofit status --- seeks the preservation of the natural landscape, desert plants, wildlife and scenic beauty of the mountain areas within and surrounding the Town of Paradise Valley.

A view of the crowd gathered Oct. 9 at Sanctuary Camelback Resort & Spa in the Town of Paradise Valley. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Mr. Pakis told the gathered patrons of the Mountain Preserve of new efforts underway.

“2019 has been an exciting year for the Trust,” he said.

“We have expanded our efforts to working with the town on the hillside ordinances to make the conservation of entitlement much easier … the [town] can now provide a conservation easement. And, the town has approved a fitting monument to recognize the families who have given land.”

The Mountain Preserve, as defined by Trust officials, includes all property on Mummy Mountain, Camelback Mountain, and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve area.

In all, conserved land includes over 240 acres meanwhile the Preserve Trust works independently but in full cooperation of the Town of Paradise Valley, Trust officials say.

Renowned artist and Clearwater Hills resident Ed Mell created an original piece of art --- a 14-foot-long bronze sculpture --- representing the Mountain Preserve. The sculpture would be on a pedestal, allowing for plaques to recognize donors to the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve Trust.

Paradise Valley Town Council earlier this fall appeared to be in favor of the art installation though several members requested more detailed plans ahead of a potential approval in early October.

Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner along with fellow members of Town Council appear to have come to a consensus of placing the sculpture at the Town Hall Complex, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

Mr. Mell, who was in attendance during the event, called the bronze sculpture an “evolving” piece.

“This is an evolving piece, it is all conceptual, so how it ends up will likely change,” he said noting his appreciation for conservation efforts. “We live in Clearwater Hills, which is almost Paradise Valley, but we would like do to preserve our mountains too.

Pat Graham, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona director, delivers keynote remarks during the Oct. 9 Mountain Preserve patron event. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Hope as action

Pat Graham, director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, offered keynote remarks offering insights to nature conservancy efforts statewide.

The Nature Conservancy in Arizona is one of the largest in the nation and is actively protecting more than 1.5 million acres in Arizona, Mr. Graham prefaced his comments. Founded nearly a century ago, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona consists of six preserves, which are open to the public.

“Over the period of time we have been the largest holder of natural preservation in the state of Arizona,” Mr. Graham explained. “We negotiated the very first conservation effort in Arizona. And, we learned pretty quickly we could not do this without people like you. Some people do it because they want to leave a legacy. Some people want to do it for estate purposes.”

--- Pat Graham, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona executive director

But Mr. Graham points out the most important fact: People do it.

“We are very fortunate to work with folks like yourselves every day,” he said. “I think we are fortunate to be here tonight to be with people who have donated land to the Paradise Valley Mountain Trust. This is some of the most sought-after land in all of Arizona and to have conservation here is remarkable.”

Mr. Graham explained to the group how the Phoenix metropolitan area is one of the hottest places in America and the more vegetation the better to help mitigate peaking temperatures.

“We live in the hottest city in America,” he said pointing out a change in 13 degrees can occur between areas with and without concrete. “In effect, we are helping to moderate the environment for ourselves and for others. We are actively trying to increase vegetation --- The right tree planted in the right place can make all the difference.”

Mr. Graham explains conservancy is a keystone effort to ensuring the next generation has a shot at living in a sustainable environment.

“The Nature Conservancy has grown to be the largest conservation effort in the world,” he explained. “We are trying to build healthy cities. We couldn’t deal with these issues without the collective commitment to get things done. The short message is that there is a path we can get on for a more sustainable future. We can continue to grow, we just have to do it in different ways.”

But great responsibilities oftentimes comes with great efforts and commitment behind the responsibilities, Mr. Graham points out.

“If we don’t get on that path it really is our children that are going to be responsible for that,” he said. “A pessimist says all is lost … the hopeful person takes action. Hope is not a state of mind. Hope is action and together we can create hope.”

Paradise Valley Councilwoman Julie Pace.

Paradise Valley Councilwoman Julie Pace, who has served as Town Council liaison for the Mountain Preserve, says renewed efforts has been a privilege she didn’t see coming.

“It has been my privilege to work with this board,” she said before offering tokens of appreciation for patrons in attendance. “When you give to the Paradise Valley Mountain Preserve it will stay in its existing condition --- no hiking and no trails. It will stay in its natural condition.”

Go to pvmpt.org.

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