PHOENIX — In response to the rapidly changing circumstances related to the COVID19 pandemic, many day-use sites, restrooms and other developed recreation facilities on the Tonto National Forest are currently closed, however, the vast majority of the general Forest area will remain available to visitors who want to spend time outdoors. Recreation opportunities on the forest include hiking and biking on trails, dispersed camping and other activities that support social distancing and small groups.

SUPERIOR, ARIZONA -- The largest desert arboretum in America, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, announces their third annual Family Day with waived admission for kids (0-18 years of age) on February 29 from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum hosts an annual Family Day with thematic educational programming in the gardens. This year focuses on edible and medicinal desert plants featuring special activities, tours, and a series of seminars given by natural medicine doctors.

FLORENCE, AZ - The future Peralta Regional Park in Pinal County could be open to the public in 2021 after the Arizona State Parks Board yesterday approved the County's application for a Land and Water Conservation grant.

The project, set in the shadows of the Superstition Mountains and described as a spectacular natural jewel on the outer edge of the Phoenix area, will now move to the final design phase, with construction targeted to get underway later this year.

The grant, which amounts to $2,051,203.50, will be matched equally by the County and means the project is now fully funded.

Offices will be closed February 17 PHOENIX — The USDA Forest Service, including the Tonto National Forest, will waive fees at most day-use recreation sites Feb. 17 in honor of Presidents Day. The fee-waiver day is the second in a series of such opportunities offered by the agency in 2020.

Presidents Day honors our nation’s presidents, with emphasis on President Washington and President Lincoln. On observed holidays such as Presidents Day, all Tonto National Forest Ranger District offices along with the Supervisor’s Office will close. Offices will resume normal business hours the following day.

The USDA Forest Service also is waiving fees on:

PHOENIX — In a joint effort with the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, work began today to install cattle guards at eight Tonto recreation sites along Bush Highway.

Installation of cattle guards is completing the Forest Service’s fence projects near Bush Highway on the Mesa Ranger District.

The installation timeline includes:

· Granite Reef north and south from Feb. 10-19

Expect plenty of company and don’t park on highway shoulders

PHOENIX – This week’s winter storms will likely have many desert dwellers heading to the high country to toss snowballs, make snow angels, sled, etc., etc. Have a great time if you’re among them, but leave prepared to spend extended time in frigid conditions and pack a fully charged cellphone and other safety essentials.

Wherever you decide to play in the snow, make sure it isn’t along a highway. Using shoulders for anything but emergencies can endanger you, your passengers and other motorists while interfering with first responders and snowplows. In addition, the Arizona Department of Transportation’s plows can throw snow and ice a great distance off the roadway.