Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center To Open On October 10

On Saturday, October 10, the long-awaited Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center will open its doors to the public. To mark the special occasion, Audubon Arizona is hosting a family-oriented grand opening that will feature Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon as a guest speaker. John Flicker, President & CEO of the National Audubon Society, will also be on hand to celebrate this new addition to Audubon's vision for connecting people with nature, especially in urban areas across the country.

Located at 3131 South Central Avenue, the state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly center is adjacent to Phoenix's 600-acre Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, an environmental transformation that stretches along five miles of the historic Salt River. The Audubon Center's grand opening event will give visitors of all ages an opportunity to connect with nature and see Sonoran Desert wildlife right in the heart of downtown Phoenix.

"The opening of the Audubon Center will allow us to introduce thousands of people a year, many of them children, to the animals and plants found in our beautiful Sonoran Desert," said Sam Campana, Audubon Arizona Executive Director. "We hope to instill a culture of conservation in the next generation and to help city-dwellers experience the wonders of nature in their own backyard."

Since the Salt River restoration project began in June 2000, the number of bird species has grown from a few dozen to over 200, and other animals have returned as well. Flycatchers, owls, roadrunners, hawks, herons and hummingbirds are now common sights in the area which was, for decades, a landfill.

The free family festivities for the Audubon Center Grand Opening begin at 10:00am. Visitors will be treated to refreshments and be able to participate in nature activities from 11:00am to 2:00pm. The morning will also include special VIP speakers and entertainment.

"We are proud to play a role in introducing the new Audubon Center to the community. As the Valley's urban areas expand, this remarkable place and the programs Audubon offers here will help residents of all ages enjoy, appreciate, and learn to protect nature," said John Felix, Big Chief of the Thunderbirds and President of Thunderbirds Charities, the signature sponsor of the Audubon Center's grand opening. Additional support for this community celebration was provided by Walmart, the Arizona Lottery, and SCF Arizona.

Generous funding for the construction and early operations of the Audubon Center came from Ak-Chin Indian Community, Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Dorrance Family Foundation, Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., Gila River Indian Community, The Arthur L. and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the City and citizens of Phoenix, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, and SRP as well as other Valley institutions and individuals.

Audubon Arizona is a not-for-profit organization and is the State Office of the National Audubon Society. More at

John Flicker's Audubon magazine View column on the new center

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