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Skyline’s usage exceeds expectations
Submitted by Glenn Gullickson on Wed, 01/11/2017 - 12:00am
More than 200,000 visit Buckeye park; anniversary celebration set for Saturday
As Skyline Regional Park’s first anniversary is observed, attendance figures show usage of the Buckeye park in 2016 exceeded expectations.
WHAT: Skyline Regional Park’s first anniversary event.
WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday
WHERE: Skyline Regional Park, 2600 N. Watson Road, Buckeye
INFO: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 623-349-6350
“The park has been very popular,” said Bob Wisener, Buckeye’s conservation and project manager, who helped develop the park, which opened Jan. 9, 2016.
During its first year of operation, more than 200,000 people visited the 8,700-acre park on the south side of the White Tank Mountains, Wisener said.
“It’s a pretty impressive number,” he said. “That certainly exceeded my expectations.”
Attendance figures were determined after installing trail and vehicle counters at the park last spring, Wisener said.
The highest usage of the park was on a Saturday in December, when 661 vehicles were counted, he said.
If each vehicle averaged two or three people, Wisener estimated that 1,500 people had visited the park that day.
“That’s a lot of people coming in,” he said.
The usage reports show there was a need for the park, Wisener said.
“It’s really become a destination in the West Valley for people to enjoy the Sonoran Desert,” he said.
Wisener said the park’s 12 trails covering 16 miles are a big draw for visitors.
He estimated that 65 to 70 percent of visitors are hikers, 20 percent are mountain bikers and 10 percent are equestrians.
The park features easy, moderate and difficult trails of a variety of lengths from less than a quarter of a mile to three miles long, Wisener said.
Some trails offer vantage points of the Buckeye Valley and toward University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Wisener said reviews posted by visitors on social media have been positive.
“We’ve gotten a lot of accolades from the public,” he said.
Programming at the park includes a desert survival class, stargazing and hikes to identify plants and animals.
The park also features facilities for picnicking and camping.
Wisener went to work on the park’s master plan and development plan in 2010 after the city signed a 25-year lease agreement for the land with the Bureau of Land Management.
Another hurdle was crossed when funding for the park was provided in a $3 million deal with Phoenix to use the Buckeye landfill for a solar generating plant.
For 2017, plans call for the opening of a trail that will be accessible for those with mobility challenges, including those who walk with the use of walkers or canes, as well as parents with strollers, Wisener said.
“It was something we knew we needed to add,” he said.
The trail is expected to open by April on the flats north of the bridge in the park and will include interpretive signage about wildlife and plants found in the park.
The trail’s construction is being funded by an $80,000 grant from the Arizona Parks Department.
The grant will also fund the extension of a trail in the southeast portion of the park toward the Sienna Hills community, Wisener said.
A celebration on Saturday to commemorate the park’s first anniversary will focus on fitness, with a hike or run, fitness demonstrations and a mountain bike clinic.
Healthcare screenings will also be offered by doctors from Abrazo Medical Group in Buckeye.
Experts in hiking, cycling and trail running will show how to make the most of fresh air and nature.
Information about the desert environment will be provided by members of the White Tank Conservancy.
Wildlife will be on exhibit and healthy refreshments will be provided.
Prizes will also be given away, and the first 100 visitors will receive a commemorative shirt.
Glenn Gullickson can be reached at email@example.com.
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