Wild cats, hawks, bats, reptiles, ranching are headline topics at Oracle State Park’s free Saturday and Sunday programs

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March is Arizona Cultural Heritage Awareness Month and Oracle State Park for Environmental Education is bringing a full line-up of wildlife and natural history programs to its Saturday and Sunday calendar. In addition, tours of the historic Kannally ranch house, guided bird walks every first and third Saturday, and guided hikes every second and fourth Saturday will continue.

The park, which features scenic mountain vistas and pristine oak-woodlands, is open on weekends through April. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is $7 per vehicle at the gate on Mt. Lemmon Rd. in Oracle. Nearly all programs, events, and hikes are free with park admission but reservations are requested by calling the park at 520-896-2425. Event details are also posted on the park website: www.azstateparks.com/Parks/ORAC.  

Wildlife video showings of park animals are featured continuously in the ranch house living room, and the gift shop is open for browsing. Picnickers are welcome on the ranch house patios.

• Feb. 23: Wild Plants, Wild Foods Walk with Rick Gagnon, naturalist. Meet at 8:15 a.m. at the Kannally ranch house.

• March 2: Plant Walk with Sonoran Desert herbalist, John Slattery is set from 3-5PM.

• March 9: “Cattle & Grasslands: a History of Ranching in Southeastern AZ”, a presentation of the Arizona Humanities Council with Robin Pinto from the UofA, begins at noon in the ranch house. Her talk includes ecological, political, and economic issues and events that influence the history of cattle and ranching. Because there are so many interrelated issues, Robin will welcome questions. Reservations required.

• March 10: Geology Walk with Bob Scarborough begins at noon. Reservations required.

• March 16: Harris Hawk Informal Talk with Kathie Schroeder, wildlife rehab specialist, and “Sueno” the hawk is featured between 10:30AM and 12:30PM.

• March 17: Live Reptile Talk with Ed Moll, herpetologist, begins at 11AM. Get up close to local reptiles like gopher, king, mountain king, and hognose snakes; gila monster; mud turtle, and a tortoise (if he’s out of hibernation). Reservations required.

• March 23: Bat Wildlife Talk with Ronnie Sidner, bat biologist, begins at noon. Reservations required.

• March 24: “Wild Cats of the Sky Islands” presentation by Jessica Lamberton-Moreno, wildlife biologist with the local conservation organization Sky Island Alliance, begins at 11AM. This region (Oracle and the Catalina Mountains) is home to four of the world’s 36 wild cats: jaguar, mountain lion, ocelot, and bobcat. Presentation includes natural history, behavior of the cats, recent news, and some of the myths and fears surrounding them. Reservations required.

• March 30: Wild Plants & Wild Foods Walk with Rick Gagnon, naturalist, begins at 9AM.

• March 30: Journal-Making Workshop from 1-3PM with Val Bembenek. Participants will make three blank journaling books with colorful covers and stab bindings. For sketching, notes, photos. $12 fee includes park admission; reservations required. 

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