Arizona Game and Fish Department Seeks Public Input

Source:  Arizona Game and Fish Department Email Blast – August 16, 2018

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is still seeking ideas for establishing and maintaining a discretionary, dedicated funding source for outreach, education and public awareness efforts.  To view ideas received to date, or to submit ideas throughout the 30-day public input period that ends September 8, visit  www.azgfd.com.  Ideas also can be emailed to ideas@azgfd.gov.Draft funding alternatives, based on this public input, vetting and benchmarking, will be presented to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission during its public meeting Sept. 21 at the Navajo County Heber Complex, 2188 W. Country Club Drive, in Overgaard.

There will be an additional opportunity for the public to provide input on select alternatives, based Commission direction. AZGFD will host a public forum and webcast at 6 p.m. on October 10 at department headquarters (Quail Room), 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix. The public will be able to ask questions or provide comments in person during the forum in the Quail Room, or by email from their smartphone or other device.

The webcast also can be viewed at any AZGFD regional office, where the public also can submit their questions or comments via email. The forum will kick off another 30-day comment period that ends Nov. 8. AZGFD then will present potential funding option(s) to the Commission at its public meeting Dec. 7 in Phoenix.

Protect the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund

Special to the Arizona Daily Star by Liz Petterson – August 2, 2018

“Few of us can hope to leave a poem or a work of art to posterity; but working together or apart, we can yet save meadows, marshes, strips of seashore, and stream valleys as a green legacy for the centuries.” — Stewart Udall

Tucson-based Arizona Land and Water Trust partnered with the federal Bureau of Land Management in 2014 to add 356 protected acres to Ironwood Forest National Monument northwest of Tucson.  Home to Ironwood trees reaching over 800 years in age, the property provides steep, rocky slope habitat for desert bighorn sheep, the last endemic population in the Tucson basin. The funds for the property’s protection came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Created by Congress in 1965, and spearheaded by then Interior Secretary and former Arizona congressman Stewart Udall, Land and Water Conservation Fund was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and our cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities — not with taxpayer dollars, but with a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees.

Now, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is set to expire on Sept. 30. It is critical that the Land and Water Conservation Fund be permanently reauthorized with full, dedicated funding. The fund is authorized to receive up to $900 million annually but over the years, more than $20 billion have been diverted elsewhere. Even so, the fund has protected land in every state over its 53-year history and supported more than 41,000 state and local park projects.

Arizona has received approximately $235 million in fund dollars, protecting places such as the Grand Canyon and Saguaro National Parks, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, Tumacácori National Historical Park and San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

In Pima County alone, the fund has contributed to more than 150 projects, including the City of Tucson’s Reid, Kennedy, Udall, Fort Lowell and Lakeside parks; a dozen school and local park playgrounds, courts, sports fields and swimming pools; Dennis Weaver Park in Oro Valley; Tucson Mountain and Arthur Pack regional parks and The Loop in Pima County; and Catalina State Park.

Arizona’s natural beauty and its recreational opportunities fuel the state’s economy. According to the Arizona Department of Tourism, 43 million people visited Arizona in 2016 and spent $21.2 billion in the state, supporting 201,000 jobs and generating $5.7 billion in wages and salaries and $1.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Legislation proposed in Congress to permanently reauthorize and fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, including one introduced by Rep. Raúl Grijalva, continues to have bipartisan support. A March 16 letter to leaders of the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies supporting the fund was signed by Reps. Grijalva, Kyrsten Sinema, Ruben Gallego, Tom O’Halleran and Martha McSally.

Arizona Land and Water Trust has worked with willing landowners and government agencies — BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Arizona Game and Fish, Fort Huachuca and Pima County among others — for 40 years to protect 50,000 acres of wildlife habitat and working ranches and farms in Southern Arizona for future generations.

We were honored to receive the assistance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 2014. It makes sense to use a small portion of the fees from the withdrawal of our country’s natural resources to preserve its beautiful and environmentally critical places.

Please contact your representatives and senators. Don’t let the Land and Water Conservation Fund expire.

Arizona Forward Statewide Sustainability Summit:  Discover Rio Reimagined

Source:  Short Essay by Arizona Heritage Alliance Advocacy Chair – Thom Hulen, July 2018

The Rio Salado Reimagined (RSR) event, hosted by Arizona Forward and held on May 31, 2018  was inspiring on many levels. First, as a person who grew up in South Phoenix and worked at an institution bordering the Salt River for many years it has been a dream of mine to see the Salt River restored to a state[1]resembling its past grandeur.

Second, I believe as a society we should use our resources in a manner that reflects our values, andwe have undervalued the Salt River and prevented its potential as an amenity for residents and visitors for too long.

When I was growing up the Salt River was viewed as a sand and gravel mines, landfills, stray dogs, and places for homeless people to live. There were patches of wildlife habitat here and there and in areas protected from flooding remnants of prehistoric and historic canals.

The presentations at the event focused on what other communities have done to enhance or recover river channels dissecting their towns and cities. Los Angeles, CA and San Antonio, TX. Each city has its challenges and goals, but the cities that the Salt River courses through can achieve a spectacular success in creating wildlife habitat, amenities such as parks, ecological services (fresh air, flood control, reducing urban heat island effects) and opportunities for economic development.

Most people, all the people I discussed this project with, agree there is great potential for the Reimagining of the Salt River project. The conflicts, which are serious and can be solved, arises out of vision and paying for the vision or visions selected.

Visions and costs are intertwined. This is our reality and there will be significant compromise on a visions or visions. One extreme is vision is to remake the entire Salt River bed a breathtaking riparian zone filled with native plants and wildlife, a bird watchers dream! Another extreme vision is to see the river’s channel lined with businesses and housing interrupted by a lake of two, golf courses, parks, and a few natural riparian areas. In this extreme vision there will be probably no allowances for the displaced homeless and the residential housing will be little or no affordable housing.

There will be plenty of opportunities for public participation in the planning and implementation of the Salt River through the Rio Salado Reimagining project. During this process I can see the Arizona Heritage Alliance taking a role in helping make the project a success for all Arizonans, not just those fortunate to afford a river front view.

[1]I use restoration carefully because I believe that something that took millions of years to form can hardly be “restored” in a few years by humans. In many cases it is not desirable to be returned to its native state, but when I tour the Salt River near the Audubon Arizona site I think we can get close enough to a state where humans. plants and wildlife can thrive.

Desert Museum Pioneer Bill Woodin Leaves Lasting Legacy

Source:  Arizona Daily Star – May 5, 2018

When Bill Woodin was 6, he captured a snake that gave birth to 52 offspring in a single day. At age 11, he was photographed in the Sonoran Desert near Tucson holding a gopher snake longer than he was. At age 12, he charmed the Tucson Rotary Club with a snake talk.

Courtesy Anne Warner

These childhood events symbolized a lifelong love affair with the desert and its wildlife that crystallized in Woodin’s tenure as executive director of the Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum from 1954 to 1971. The museum’s second director, Woodin still has the longest tenure of any director in its 66-year history. He played a key role in building the museum into one of the top 10 zoological museums in the United States and making it an inte! rnational tourist attraction. ‘He was a living legend for all of those involved in the museum,’ said Craig Ivanyi, the museum’s director since 2010. ‘His passion and fingerprints are still there, found throughout this organization. He’s kind of into the fabric of its DNA.’

Woodin died in March at age 92, at the adobe ranch house on a 40-acre parcel bisected by Sabino Creek where he had lived since the early 1950s. His second wife, Beth, a longtime conservation activist and a former Desert Museum trustee, died in January at 71. A memorial service for both will be held May 27 at the museum.

Woodin as director shaped the museum’s future as much as any individual, after its initial vision was laid down by its co-founder and first director William Carr and co-founder and financial benefactor Arthur Pack. Carr resigned after barely two year! s due to ill health after the museum opened on Labor Day 1952. Woodin’s work catapulted the museum into a site whose visitors during his tenure included Eleanor Roosevelt and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

He inherited a facility with annual visitation of about 160,000. The year before he left, attendance had grown to 302,000. Today, the museum draws about 400,000 annual visitors.

Born William Woodin III, his introduction to the Sonoran Desert came at age 4 in 1930, when his parents moved the family to Tucson from his native New York City. His grandfather, also named William Woodin, was President Franklin Roosevelt’s first treasury secretary, instrumental in shaping Roosevelt’s declaration of a bank holiday in 1933 that helped rescue the then-ailing financial system during the peak of the Great Depression.

William III’s father, William Woodin II, and his mother, Carolyn Hyde, had a house built along a dirt Wilmot Road near Speedway, recalled Peter Woodin, a son of the former museum director. It was one of a handful of houses existing that far east in Tucson at the time. A neighboring home belonged to novelist Harold Bell Wright, for whom the Harold Bell Wright Estates neighborhood is now named.

Woodin’s parents were divorced in the 1930s. His mother married nationally known horse breeder Melville Haskell. They raised Woodin on a horse farm near the Rillito River near Swan Road. Haskell was a founder of the American Quarter Horse Association.

Woodin left and returned to Tucson several times, graduating from high school in California, getting a bachelor’s in zoology at the University of Arizona and a master’s in zoology at the University of ! California, Berkeley.

! In pursuit of his master’s degree, in 1950, he identified a kingsnake species in the Huachuca Mountains, where he and his first wife, the former Ann Snow, were camped out. The species was later named after him: lampropeltis pyromelana woodini .

He started as a volunteer for the Desert Museum before it opened, and later became a staff zoologist and deputy director until taking over as director in December 1954. The museum was in a financial crisis, with benefactor Pack having pulled back his support by then. The staff had been cut to five and the museum budget was $60,000. (Its current staff and annual budget are 140 and about $9.5 million, respectively.) Woodin embarked on a period of expansion, and introduced the museum’s first admission charge: 50 cents for adults and a quarter for kids.

Under him, the m! useum built an underground tunnel where visitors could see bat-roost systems, bats nesting in caves, foxes snoozing in dens and snakes nesting, wrote the Saturday Evening Post in a 1962 profile of Woodin titled, ‘People on the way up.’ A museum exhibit called Water Street made an early pitch for saving water in the desert.

Also came exhibits and enclosures for amphibians, black bears, birds, tortoises, otters, coatimundis and other small animals, an aquarium room, artificial habitats using rocks to look like natural habitats, and a vampire bat cave. The museum’s renowned Desert Ark TV program also began under Woodin.

Woodin was always willing to allow his staff to try new things and ideas, encouraging creative people to design exhibits that were copied around the country and around the world, said Peggy Larson, the museum’s archivist.

He was called ‘the most promising young naturalist in the United States’ by Roy Chapman Andrews, a former American Museum of Natural History director, an Asian explorer and an early Desert Museum trustee, the Saturday Evening Post article reported.

But Woodin gave the job up in 1971 on deciding ’17 years was enough,’ said his son Peter. He wanted to concentrate on another lifelong passion, small arms ammunition used by the U.S. military. He spent most of the rest of his life writing a three-volume history on the subject, publishing the final volume in 2015. He also compiled ‘one of the great collections of ammunition in the world,’ said a second son, Hugh Woodin.

He kept the collection at his Woodin Laboratory, built in 1973 and now a 3,000-square-foot underground vault, built of masonry block and reinforced concrete slabs. The laboratory, tracing the ev! olution of small arms ammunition, contains many thousands of specimens, many of which are the only ones of their kind, says a 2010 article about the laboratory in the publication Small Arms Review. The laboratory is a private, nonprofit foundation and educational institute. The family has kept its location private for security reasons.

In an interview in the Small Arms Review, Woodin credited his stepfather for his interest in guns. He said Haskell introduced him to shooting at an early age and ‘instilled in me a real respect for guns and gun safety.

‘To this day, I get the creeps when someone points anything at me, even a finger,’ Woodin told the interviewer.

He also compulsively collected snakes for most of his life, at one time simultaneously owning a green rock rattlesnake and two large kingsnakes. He often prowled aroun! d the desert at night with a flashlight, stick and burlap bag, searchin! g for specimens, and kept bobcats at his home as a hobby. Woodin used to keep his favorite snakes inside sacks in the living room until his wife Ann domesticated him, the Saturday Evening Post article said.

‘It was a terrible sight when the sacks wandered around at night,’ said Ann Woodin, who also forbade her four sons from bringing snakes to the dinner table. Ann, an author, naturalist and community volunteer and activist, died in 2017 at age 90.

Woodin is survived by four sons: Peter, a lawyer and fulltime mediator in New York City; Hugh, a professor of philosophy and mathematics at Harvard University; John, a contractor in Tucson; and Michael, a painter and photographer in Tucson. He also had eight grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at tdavis! @tucson.com or 806-7746