by Kelly Tolbert, Recreation Coordinator, City of Prescott
It is no secret the modern day Prescott community is flourishing because of the incredible number of partnerships and collaborations that took place historically and continue on today. Stricklin Park, one of the city’s many open space preserves, is a prime example and the result of a neighborhood campaign started by the park’s namesake, Howard B. Stricklin (1907-1990), who is known for his career as a superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park (1965-1969) and his civic leadership locally.
One particular resource the recreation services department uses for special projects within parks, lakes and open space is known as a partnering account, or matching funds, allocated each fiscal year to enhance contributions from organizations and individuals to complete important projects.
The 4.4 acres designated as Stricklin Park has an intriguing history – like many popular Prescott destinations – as it was originally known as Hartson Ranch, a local gun club dating back to the 1890s. Dating even further back into history is the archeological/interpretive site that features remains of prehistoric pit houses and pueblos visible today.
Stricklin was successful in raising awareness and private funding from local residents, businesses and organizations, which combined with the city’s matching funds and made the open space purchase possible in 1989.
Unfortunately, he suddenly passed away just a year later, and the park was designated Stricklin Forest Park honoring his efforts. His efforts were coupled with the Prescott Audubon Society who found itself an early partner in fundraising with hopes of preserving this now important riparian area.
In fact, the Prescott Audubon Society officially adopted the park in 1995. Butte Creek, a seasonal creek, is surrounded by large ponderosa pines and healthy cottonwood trees, creating a bird enthusiast’s paradise.
Stricklin Park serves as the trailhead for Butte Creek Trail, stretching in and around private property, neighborhood streets and around boulders for approximately 1.3 miles into the Prescott National Forest, providing a hiker’s gateway to the Thumb Butte Recreation area. Due to the various substratum that comprise the trail, horses and bicycles are not recommended.
Jumping forward about 10 years from the original adoption of Stricklin Park by the Prescott Audubon Society, members began to notice the open space preserve was in need of improvements. Again, partnering funds proved invaluable.
The city, Prescott Audubon, Yavapai County Contractors Association, CEMEX and Steve Morgan’s Landscapes for Life all provided funding and materials to make these necessary enhancements possible. The Over the Hill Gang, a trail construction crew, also contributed sweat equity with the installation of a new footbridge; new concrete paths were poured (donation by CEMEX), and a new park sign was added.
Although a year-round park, Stricklin is particularly spectacular in the spring. From the downtown courthouse, travel about 3 miles toward Thumb Butte on Gurley Street (turns into Thumb Butte Road) and turn left on Sherwood Drive (just past Hassayampa Village Lane). Go approximately .10 mile on Sherwood and courteously park along the street. The park’s address is 1751 Sherwood Drive. For more information, visit prescott-az.gov or prescotttrails.com.