Sedona non-profit to hold fundraiser, fights to keep state park open

Posted: Updated:

SEDONA -- As state parks across Arizona begin to close their gates, some organizations and determined individuals have devoted themselves to keeping the parks open.

On Saturday a non-profit group dedicated to supporting Sedona’s Red Rock State Park will hold an event to help raise funds to prevent the park from closing June 3.

The organization, Benefactors of Red Rock State Park, is chaired by Birgit Loewenstein. She said she and the other members of the group could not just sit and watch as the park was shut down.

“We were shocked and, first, in denial, and then came to the realization that we have to do something,” she said. “We have to raise funds, and we have to raise awareness for the park…so we jumped into action.”

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 17and will be held at Red Rock State Park. Loewenstein said the day’s activities will include guided nature walks, live music, a raffle, hamburgers provided by a local health food store and a silent auction.

Items being auctioned off include two week-long stays at beach resorts in Belize and Nicaragua, overnight stays at Sedona bed and breakfasts, kayak trips down the Verde River and paintings by local artists.

For kids, Loewenstein said there would be lectures, face painting, scat and track identification and presentations on owls and bats, among other things.

She said she hopes the event will draw people from other parts of the state to help support the park.

“We really want our Phoenix park enthusiasts to come out and enjoy the day with us, and help save the park in doing that,” she said, explaining that many of the park’s visitors come from the city.

Although the park has over a hundred volunteers, Loewenstein said it was not as profitable as other nearby outdoor attractions, partly because the park was not as focused on tourism.

“It can’t compete with national forest trails around Sedona,” Loewenstein said. “That’s not what this park is about. It’s about environmental education.”

Loewenstein said the educational programs hosted by the park would also disappear without additional funding. She said about 1,100 kids had gone through the program in two months.

“We have our hearts in it, and we hope to convince the public that this is something that needs to be preserved. We have a natural treasure here,” she said.

Loewenstein said that all proceeds of the event would go toward the operation of the park.

For those who want to help keep the park open but cannot make it to the event, Loewenstein suggested visiting the website, www.benefactorsrrsp.org, and making a donation.

“We’ll be working until June 2 at midnight to keep this park open, and we hope to be successful,” said Loewenstein. “If everybody pitches in, we just might make it.”