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Scottsdale taps local archaeologist firm as Brown’s Ranch Homestead project nears

PHoto of Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Wildflowers along the Feldspar Trail in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (Photo: Joel Hazelton for Experience Scottsdale/

Scottsdale City Council considers archaeology needs at City Hall

By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

The city of Scottsdale is looking for an archaeologist — but a fedora and whip are not required.

Scottsdale City Council
Tuesday, Sept. 13, will be presented with a professional services contract, through the local governing board’s consent agenda at its regular meeting at City Hall, with Logan Simpson Design at a price up to $150,000 for survey reports as needs arise.

But also for a specific education and restoration project found within the bounds of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, city officials say.

Krow Ekblaw, Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve executive director, says archaeological survey services are a common need among three municipal departments.

“This professional services contract is used for archaeological and cultural services by the planning, capital project management, and community services departments,” he explained in his report to City Council.

“Most of the Jobs performed under this contract are small, such as the preparation of archaeological survey reports and peer review of surveys submitted for development cases. Occasionally, the need arises for archaeological services that exceed $10,000.”

Scottsdale City Council will vote on the professional service contract, which is emboldened through resolution No. 12584, about 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13 at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

Mr. Ekblaw explains the municipal move will be one to update the existing contract with Logan Simpson Design that originally entered into by Scottsdale City Council in December 2019.

“The purpose of this action is to authorize a modification to contract 2019-188-COS with Logan Simpson Design, Inc., increasing the annual spending limit to $150,000 and allowing capacity for the Brown’s Ranch Homestead trail project in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which is estimated to cost approximately $100,000,” he said of the upcoming Sonoran Preserve project.

“In 2016, the City Council approved the cultural resource master plan for the reserve [that] provides guidance and direction regarding the management and preservation of archaeological, cultural, and historic resources within the preserve,” he explained of the municipal charge at the Sonoran Preserve. The CRMP specifically addresses the historic Brown’s Ranch Homestead site, located in the northern region of the Preserve, and recommends the city design and implement an interpretive trail within the site.”

The preserve encompasses 30,500 acres and is a permanently protected, sustainable desert habitat that is the largest urban park in the United States. Those lands, however, purchased through an affirmative vote of a sales tax increase that is set to expire, still need care and attention.

Mr. Ekblaw says the core function of the homestead site is education for current and future residents and visitors of “The West’s Most Western Town.”

“The purpose of the interpretive trail is to protect the cultural resource and provide educational opportunities for residents and visitors,” he explained. “The trail will be less than 1 mile in length and will include educational stops with signage illustrating themes regarding human occupation of the area, ranching history, and the importance of conservation archaeology.”

Mr. Ekblaw reports the project is earmarked to be funded by the dedicated sales tax meant for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve activities including maintenance.

Balanced Rock near Granite Mountain in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve. (Photo: An Pham for Experience Scottsdale/
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