Tag Archives: Tonto National Forest

Valley Forward's Crescordia Awards Winners

Crescordia Awards Spotlight Those Making A Difference In Our Communities

Crescordia Awards spotlight those making a difference in our communities

The U.S. 60 Gonzales Pass widening project has earned the coveted President’s Award (Best of Show) in Valley Forward’s 31st annual Environmental Excellence Awards program, held in partnership with SRP for the tenth consecutive year. Designated the Pinal-Gila Scenic Road, the 10-mile scenic stretch of highway is the Valley’s eastern gateway to the Superstition Wilderness and the Tonto National Forest, which plays host to 5.8 million visitors each year.

While freeways are inherently considered detrimental to environmental quality, this significant project was recognized for exemplifying sensitivity and responsiveness to site conditions, balancing human-made elements with the natural desert landscape to conserve and protect precious resources. The project team made environmental sensitivity a key priority in efforts to improve safety and capacity of the narrow, two-lane roadway by widening it to a four-lane facility.

More than 130 entries were received in Arizona’s oldest and most prestigious awards competition focusing exclusively on environmental initiatives. Winners were announced Sept. 17, at Valley Forward’s awards gala attended by more than 600 community leaders at The Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale.

Valley Forward and SRP presented 19 first-place Crescordia winners and 30 Awards of Merit. The awards set standards for achieving a balance between the built and natural environment in the region’s physical, technical, social and aesthetic development.

In presenting the top award, Valley Forward recognized three civil engineering companies and two landscape architectural firms that teamed with the USDA Forest Service and Arizona Department of Transportation. The project was lauded for reducing environmental impacts, conserving and protecting natural resources and integrating engineering and aesthetic considerations into each phase of the development process.

In addition to the President’s Award, the U.S. Gonzales Pass won a first-place Crescordia Award in the Site Development and Landscape (Public Sector) category. Crescordia is a Greek term meaning, “to grow in harmony,” and the President’s Award is selected from among all Crescordia recipients.

This year Valley Forward unveiled a newly designed Crescordia award created by Vernon Swaback and Nicholas Markwardt of Two Worlds Community Foundation. The prestigious award’s glass, copper and wood design exemplifies a balance between the natural and built environment, incorporating natural materials and local resources.

The breadth and depth of entries in this year’s program spotlights the high priority sustainability has in our growing metropolex,” said Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward. “These awards have become powerful vehicles in advocating for the preservation of natural resources – air, water, open space and our unique desert environment.”

Two projects received two Crescordia awards each this year – Soleri Bridge and Plaza in Scottsdale and the Intel Ocotillo Campus. The Soleri Bridge and Plaza by renowned artist and architect Paolo Soleri was awarded first-place honors in the Site Development and Landscape (Trails) and Art in Public Places categories. A pedestrian passage, solar calendar and gathering space along the Scottsdale Waterfront, the striking bridge provides a scenic viewpoint over the 60-foot-wide water conveyance channel and includes a 22,000-square-foot plaza, providing a pleasing natural environment within the high-energy atmosphere of downtown Scottsdale.

Intel Corporation’s Ocotillo Semiconductor Manufacturing Campus in Chandler received the Crescordia for Buildings and Structures (Industrial & Public Works) along with the Environmental Stewardship – SRP Award. The four-million-square-foot campus is the first of its kind in the world to receive Silver Certification under the LEED Existing Building: Operations & Maintenance green building rating system. The impressive facility minimizes energy and water use, conserving natural resources and reducing its environmental impact.

“It’s inspiring to see the corporate sector leading the way in environmental stewardship,” said Richard Hayslip, associate general manager of Environmental Management, Policy and Compliance at SRP. “Working with the City of Chandler to achieve aggressive water reuse results, Intel Corporation has significantly reduced its environmental impact in the manufacturing process, demonstrating the potential of public/private partnerships.”

Christine Ten Eyck, founder and principal of Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, served as lead judge for the program. Other jurists include: Kristin Bloomquist, general manager, Cramer-Krasselt; Robert Booker, executive director, Arizona Commission on the Arts; Tamara Caraway, principal project development, Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company; Eddie Jones, principal, Jones Studio Inc., Jerry Meek, president, Desert Star Construction; Marty Sedler, director of Global Utilities and Infrastructure, Intel; Victor Vidales, board member, National and Arizona Audubon; and Dave Wilson, senior landscape architect, EPG.

Valley Forward is a non-profit public interest organization that brings business and civic leaders together to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the environment and livability of Valley communities. The organization operates with the belief that business must take a leadership role in solving the complex and sometimes controversial problems that confront growing population centers.

In addition to the U.S. Gonzales Pass, Soleri Bridge and Plaza and Intel’s Ocotillo Campus, Crescordia winners include:

Meritage Homes Launches Net-Zero Revolution (Meritage Homes)

Arizona-based Meritage Homes not only builds homes that cut energy usage by up to 80 percent but introduced the first “net-zero” production home in the state – one that could ultimately produce as much energy as it consumes.

Chandler City Hall (SmithGroup)

This modern, environmentally efficient building seeking LEED Gold Certification is located in the city’s historic downtown and encompasses 137,700 square feet of office space, a public TV studio, art gallery and 330-space parking structure, as well as Council Chambers. Open space and shaded walkways welcome visitors to the complex, which features an array of sustainable design elements.

Santa Fe Freight Depot (Arrington Watkins Architects)

Originally opened in 1929, this historic Phoenix building sat vacant for more than 50 years before being revived in a sensitive and thoughtful preservation project that now serves as headquarters for the Maricopa County Assessor’s Office and is currently seeking LEED Gold Certification.

U-Haul Contributions to Phoenix Metro Area Built Environment (U-Haul International)

Demonstrating a longstanding and strong commitment to sustainability, U-Haul routinely implements building and site improvements that benefit the environment from energy-efficient practices and water-saving techniques to permeable ground cover initiatives and adaptive reuse building conversions.

Paradise Valley Community College – Life Sciences Building (Marlene Imirzian & Associates LLC, Architects)

The innovative Paradise Valley Community College Life Sciences Building uses a diverse pallet of sustainable materials, including concrete floors and masonry, high recycle-content carpet and tack boards, bamboo doors and millwork, providing an environmentally friendly home for its growing anatomy, physiology and biology programs.

Sustainable Landscape Management: Standards for Landscape Care In the Desert Southwest (Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association)

The Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association has taken important steps to promote higher industry standards by adopting best recommended practices published in “Sustainable Landscape Management: Standards for Landscape Care in the Desert Southwest.”

Downtown Chandler Redevelopment (City of Chandler)

City officials and private partners joined forces to redevelop downtown Chandler, which had fallen into disrepair with boarded up buildings and high crime rates, into a walkable, lively core utilizing principles of environmental and economic sustainability.

Arcadia Residence (colwell:shelor Landscape Architecture)

This one-acre site in Arcadia features a home and landscape renovation that honors the historic essence of the unique neighborhood, creating a seamless transition between interior and exterior living spaces that take advantage of existing lush citrus groves and maximizes views to the mountains.

W.L. Gore & Associates Phoenix Campus (LVA Urban Design Studio)

Situated in the commercial core of the Sonoran Foothills Master Planned Community in North Phoenix, W.L. Gore & Associates’ 40-acre campus is a model of responsible development, featuring only low-water use plants including many native species. Salvaging efforts saved 82 mature trees and 158 specimen cacti, all of which were replanted on site.

White Tank Branch Library and Nature Center (Maricopa County Library District)

Surrounded entirely by desert, the 29,000-square-foot library and nature center is located at the entrance to White Tank Mountain Regional Park and is only the third library in the U.S. to earn LEED Platinum Certification. Energy efficiency, water conservation, passive solar design and returning the site to its native appearance were cornerstone to the project.

Ikea Tempe Solar Energy Project (IKEA Tempe)

IKEA has installed a 75,000-square-foot solar array at its store in Tempe consisting of two 300-kilowatt systems, each built with approximately 1,300 panels. The solar program will produce approximately one million kWh of electricity annually, the equivalent of reducing at least 760 tons of carbon dioxide (equal to the emissions of 133 cars or powering 84 homes yearly).

Conservation and Sustainable Living Programs (City of Glendale)

The newly created office of Conservation and Sustainable Living for the City of Glendale is educating residents, businesses and neighborhoods on sound environmental practices, giving away energy saving devices, providing teaching materials to schools and promoting sustainable landscaping.

Sonoran Sustainable Building Advisor Program (Sonoran SBAP, Inc.)

Designed to advance education and expertise in sustainable solutions for the built environment in Arizona, this nine-month program for professionals teaches best practices in sustainability sciences. It does not require the commitment of an advanced degree but provides more depth than short courses or online programs.

Valley Permaculture Alliance’s Education Program (Valley Permaculture Alliance)

The Valley Permaculture Alliance inspires sustainable urban living through education, community involvement and creative cooperation. Its programs include weekly sustainable living classes, monthly tours of local sustainable homes, ongoing hands-on training opportunities and special events.

[stextbox id=”grey”]For a complete list of 2011 Environmental Excellence Award Winners and categories, visit 2011 Environmental Excellence Awards Winners.[/stextbox]


Photo: dougtone, Flickr

Lost Dutchman State Park

Famously named after a lost gold mine, the Lost Dutchman State Park, located 40 miles east of Phoenix in the Sonoran Desert, is a great place to escape to, especially for those looking for adventure and a chance to strike it rich.

According to legend, Jacob Waltz located a gold mine in the 1870s. He and a fellow comrade supposedly hid one or two caches of gold in the Superstition Mountains. In 1891, Waltz died and the location of the glorious gold mine died with him as well. Clues were left to where the location allegedly is, however, no one has been able to find the mine for the past hundred years.

The gold mine has drawn thousands of visitors that hope to get lucky. All searches end in disappointment and questions as to if Waltz really hid gold inside the mountains.

Besides the infamous, rumored gold mine, the park also offers a variety of trails that lead into both the Tonto National Forest and the Superstition Mountains. Visitors can hike the challenging Siphon Draw Trail to the top of Flatiron. Those wanting a leisurely stroll through the park can walk along the Native Plant Trail and take in the desert scenery.

While camping or enjoying a picnic at one of the park’s facilities, one of the many native wildlife, including coyote, mule deer, jackrabbit and javelina are bound to be seen. With 72 campsites, the wide-open space is a great place to enjoy the natural wildlife and star gaze at night.

With a plethora of hiking and biking trails, nature walks and a chance to find gold, the Lost Dutchman State Park is a great place to visit for a few hours or even a few days, just don’t get lost trying to find the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.

For more information on the Lost Dutchman State Park, including driving directions and park fees, visit www.azstateparks.com.


Boating Adventure at Saguaro Lake

With the start of summer freshly upon us college students, my friends and I decided to start the much anticipated break with a memorable trip. What better way to celebrate our hard work than to pack up our truck and boat and head to beautiful Tonto National Forest here in east central Arizona to relax and swim in the refreshing water at Saguaro Lake?

Starting early in the morning, our group drove to the east side of the valley past Tempe in search of our summer destination. After the 45-minute drive full of rowdy college students talking, laughing and singing to the latest tunes on the radio, we made it to the dock where we unloaded the boat into the water.

After everyone was situated, and after we were unpleasantly surprised by the wind’s decision to direct the sunscreen’s blasts in our mouths, we departed for the east side of the lake to start our fun. The brisk, cool wind whipped our hair on our faces as the boat flew across the water.

The temperature was perfect; the Arizona heat wasn’t too hot for May, and the water was refreshing to the touch. Saguaro Lake, Tonto National Forest, Arizona, Photo: Andrea Crandall

The boat came to a stop, with the group deciding that our first water adventure was going to be wakeboarding. One by one, all 10 of us took our turns, some more experienced than others. This was my first attempt at wakeboarding, and to be honest, I found it quite challenging. I would successfully get pulled up to be on top of the water, only to fall over a split second later. My good friend Miranda boarded the water with ease, making the sport look all too easy to do. Nevertheless, we all had a good time in the water.

After a few hours of wakeboarding, our stomachs were growling with hunger. We pulled over to an area between canyon walls, which offered shade from the now scorching sun. We all ate, relaxed and bobbed our heads to the loud music, resting our bodies before our next activity took place.

With our minds and bodies recharged, our next course of action was to go tubing. With a rope connecting a large water tube to the boat, two by two we went out with our life jackets and faced the adrenaline of being whipped around the lake with the fear of being thrown off and a chance to become airborne while hitting a wave.

Without a doubt, tubing is unbelievably fun, and even more humorous to watch. To watch the faces of pure excitement turning into concentration and fear is amusing. It is a good idea to wear tight shorts while tubing, however. Getting thrown off and hitting the water at an angle gives you a high possibility that those may come completely off, which a few of us experienced that day.

The tubing left us all exhaustePhoto: hydrollix, Flickrd. We laughed about the wipe outs and how much fun it was. With our recently sunburned faces and tired bodies, we cleaned up the boat and headed to the dock. We easily hooked the boat back up to the truck and headed home just as the sun was setting, remembering all the fun moments we had just previously shared.

Wakeboarding, tubing and swimming at the lake was successful, with everyone having a great time. It was a perfect way to start off the summer break and left us determined to do it all again sometime very soon.