Korte: more perspectives than one shaped the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

There is something to be said for perspective.

Virginia Korte

Virginia Korte

One of the greatest honors I’ve had in my 30 years of community service to Scottsdale was being appointed to the very first McDowell Sonoran Preserve Task Force by Mayor Herb Drinkwater. I was equally as honored when Task Force members elected me to chair the group.

I have fond memories of the work that went into helping establish the Mountain Preserve. Looking back on that time almost 25 years ago, I vividly recall that the concept of the Preserve was far from a slam dunk. It took quite a bit of friendly persuasion to convince people to support creating a tax that would enable us to purchase land that would be converted into a Mountain Preserve.

I am proud how those early efforts by those with a vision led to what we now know to be more than 30,000 acres.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau believed in the Mountain Preserve from the beginning, because members of the CVB understood its value to tourism. Rachel Sacco, the head of the CVB, was instrumental in organizing support for the Task Force’s vision. The business community required some nudging and eventually the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce jumped on board.

We were nearly ready to present the idea to the public, but first we had to choose a name for what was only a concept. I remember that we spent a lot of time exploring options for what it would be called. Our challenge was that the name could not just reflect the McDowell Mountains or only the Sonoran Desert foothills. The name of the Preserve had to include both the mountains and the desert. Hence the name: McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

I realize that the name now sounds obvious. But we wanted to make sure we picked a moniker that would live in perpetuity.

At the time we were involved in spirited scoping sessions about how to make our vision a reality, we were not thinking that the Mountain Preserve was our city’s “Next Big Idea.” And rest assured, we did not think we were making history during those Halcion Days of the city of Scottsdale. But we did.

Early preserve activists and some of the members of the original Task Force in 1994 are still around — like Jane Rau, Carla, Christine Kovach, Art DeCabooter, Lynn LaGarde, Susan Wheeler and so many more passionate citizens. We all share in the pride of what we helped create. The hundreds of volunteers and stewards of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy who maintain the Preserve and keep it safe for visitors have my deepest appreciation.

But most of all, it is our residents who deserve the real credit for voting in five different elections, within a 9-year span, to tax themselves and create the financial tools to “Save Our McDowells.”

Thank you, citizens of Scottsdale.

Editor’s note: Ms. Korte is a member of Scottsdale City Council and seeking re-election

Ms. Korte is a member of Scottsdale City Council

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