State seeks help finding vandals who broke Upper Verde Wildlife Area gate lock

[Source: Prescott Daily Courier] – The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Yavapai Silent Witness are seeking information about vandals who broke the lock on a road gate at the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area east of Paulden.

The locking mechanism for the gate was broken sometime during the week of April 18, which then allowed for illegal vehicle access. Previous repeated problems with vandalism, littering and illegal off-highway vehicle use led the Game and Fish Department to close the property to vehicle access on April 22, 2010. This marks the second time the lock tab has been broken to allow vehicle access onto the property. The first incident took place sometime between March 11-13.

Yavapai Silent Witness is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible. Those with information should call (800) 932-3232. Caller identities will remain confidential.

“This is the same type of behavior that led to closure of vehicle access in the first place,” said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “The property had been open to vehicle access, but it became clear the situation was not going to improve without this closure.”  Game and Fish bought the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area, located at the headwaters of the Verde River near Paulden, in 1996 with money from the Heritage Fund.

The property consists of 1,089 acres of prime riparian habitat, which includes three miles of the Verde River and one mile of Granite Creek. Human use of the property must be appropriate to the primary goals of managing the wildlife area for the benefit of sensitive species, Mocarski said.

In 2009, the wildlife area was included in the Audubon Society’s Important Bird Area program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has designated the Upper Verde River as critical habitat for the endangered spikedace fish.Mocarski said he has heard many of the arguments about motorized access, and most center on taxes. “I hear the argument a bunch: ‘Game and Fish bought this land with my taxes,'” Mocarski related. “This simply isn’t true. It was purchased with Heritage Funds, which come from the Arizona lottery. Game and Fish does not receive general fund tax dollars.”

To report acts of vandalism or other illegal activities, call (800) VANDALS. Callers should provide as much information as possible without contacting offending individuals.

Free trail map will help you find wildlife in the Pinetop-Lakeside area

[Source:] – With the weather getting warmer, it may be a good time to plan a family outing to hike and enjoy wildlife viewing in the ponderosa pine country of the White Mountains.

The Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, with assistance from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, recently developed a new trail guide called the “Pinetop-Lakeside Wildlife Viewing Guide” to help you map out a fun trip to enjoy nature and wildlife in eastern Arizona. It comes complete with a local hiking trail map and descriptions of several prime areas in and around the town where you can see a variety of animals.

“The guide will help people to streamline wildlife-viewing trips in the Pinetop-Lakeside area,” says Bruce Sitko, spokesman at the department’s Pinetop office. “Families and friends will be able to plan out which types of wildlife and which areas they want to see and how to most quickly and effectively get from one to another.”[to read the full article click here].

Arizona Game and Fish to restore river bed

[Source:] – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is implementing a water quality improvement project along the banks of the Little Colorado River on its Wenima Wildlife Area located just north of Springerville. 

The 355 acre property is managed for native wildlife, and includes 2.5 miles of the Little Colorado River.  Some of the river’s stream banks are very unstable, and large amounts of soil is washed downstream when water levels rise.  The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality funded a water quality improvement grant to address these eroding banks. The Department originally purchased this 355 acre property in 1993 with the aid of the Heritage Fund, which utilizes Arizona lottery monies to protect habitat for threatened and endangered species.  Since the 1993 acquisition, the habitat within the Wenima Wildlife Area boundaries has greatly improved, but a few sections of the river continue to experience excessive erosion events during spring run off and after large monsoon rains.

The Department applied for and was awarded a water quality improvement grant administered by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. [to read the full article click here].