EAC Discovery Park Campus outdoor areas remain open for the community

EAC Photo: Outdoor amenities at Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus remain open for community use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Paul Anger

THATCHER — With Governor Doug Ducey’s “Stay at Home” order, Arizonans are being encouraged to stay home as much as possible. He also encouraged people who are not sick to get outside for exercise like hiking or cycling, while keeping a distance from others and from crowds.  Although the buildings with the museums and shuttle ride are temporarily closed, Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus (EAC) (DPC) remains open for public enjoyment provided that users observe posted outdoor social distancing guidelines.

“EAC invites the community to visit and enjoy the beautiful weather, warm temperatures and abundant sunshine along the four miles of trails on Nature’s Hideaway Trail system,” said EAC DPC Director, Paul Anger. “This is a great time to adhere to social distancing guidelines while getting healthy and staying healthy by walking, running, or mountain biking along the winding trails through a variety of native terrains and vistas.”

Individuals who would rather relax and enjoy a calming afternoon can visit the picnic tables under the shady, cottonwood trees at the Discovery Park Pond, a native riparian area full native plants and animals.  Under the giant cottonwood trees, hikers may hear or catch a glimpse of the majestic great horned owls, or the newly relocated snowy-white barn owls, as well as western coots and a variety of colorful songbirds. 

Along the desert trails may be several species of hawks, roadrunners, quail, and, of course, jackrabbits and cottontails, and occasionally, viewers may catch a glimpse of coyote or javelina.

EAC Photo: Trails along the Discovery Park Pond are open for use.

Another option is relaxing on picnic tables or spreading a blanket on the luscious green grass at the DPC Ecology Park.  Shaded by massive cottonwoods and overlooking the pond, it is just what you need to get your family out of the house and into some fresh air and sunshine. 

“You’ll see and hear several species of birds, and as we get into spring, butterflies and other beautiful pollinating insects,” said Anger. “Keeping the trails open for use during the COVID-19 pandemic is contingent on everyone practicing proper social distancing protocols at all times. We need everyone to follow the posted guidelines to keep this benefit available.”

EAC Photo: The outdoor areas will remain open for use as long as users practice proper physical distancing.

The EAC Discovery Park Campus opens at 8 a.m. and gates are locked at sundown, Monday through Friday. For more information on access or safety, call (928) 428-6260 or email jackie.madsen@eac.edu.