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Richard W. Neter
Come to Tumamoc Hill this month to learn more about its history, to exercise and to have fun.
In honor of Arizona's Centennial, UA Science: Tumamoc will share Tumamoc Hill's rich history with the public and showcase the current and future projects there.
The Celebrate Tumamoc! event will be held Jan. 21-22 and Jan. 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day and feature science, culture, art and music.
"We're doing this because Tumamoc Hill is Tucson's best kept secret. We want people in the community to be as proud of it as we are and know about the many exciting things that are happening there," said Michael Rosenzweig, director of Tumamoc: People and Habitats.
"It's a National Historical Landmark that's still making history," said Rosenzweig, a University of Arizona professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
The four-day celebration will have an ever-changing panoply of events.
Inside and outside the historic buildings, the celebration will feature Tumamoc's importance to the science of ecology and plant biology, the site's long archaeological history, artwork inspired by Tumamoc and the current conservation work being done at Tumamoc.
Gila monsters, rattlesnakes and saguaros are some of the featured topics.
Visitors are encouraged to walk up Tumamoc Hill to experience the hill and enjoy the events – no private vehicles or bicycles will be permitted. Transportation will be provided for visitors who cannot walk up the hill.
With the cooperation of the UA School of Music, musicians, including the rhythm-and-blues group Shaky Bones, will give informal concerts during the afternoons.
Scientists and others involved with Tumamoc will be on hand to provide in-depth explanations of Tumamoc's past, present and future.
Visitors can learn about the ancient peoples who lived on Tumamoc, how the science of plant ecology blossomed at Tumamoc and how long-term studies at Tumamoc figured out much of what we know today about the life and times of saguaro cacti.
The innovative, long-term environmental studies conducted at Tumamoc's Desert Laboratory began in 1903, before Arizona was a state. The lab's visionary scientists began the world's first restoration ecology project there in 1906. Today scientists track dozens of Tumamoc's plant species, and the record of their lives is a biological monitor of climate change.
Tumamoc has been designated a National Historical Landmark three times, Rosenzweig said. In 1976, a few of the structures built before 1910 and some of the research sites were designated. In 1987, the entire 860 acres was designated as a National Historical Landmark.
"And in 2010, the whole place was designated the Tumamoc Hill Archaeological District of the United States of America," he said. "We have three full designations."
Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the UA College of Science, said, "In many ways, Tumamoc Hill is the birthplace of Tucson. It's important historically, ecologically and scientifically.
"Now that we're celebrating the state's centennial, it's a good time to celebrate Tumamoc."
Richard W. Neter