Travois: I Encourage Scottsdale City Council to vote for the Desert EDGE

Source:  Editorial by Ken Travous; Scottsdaleindependent.com – November 7, 2017

I have been following the Desert Discovery Center saga for the past few years, and I don’t envy the situation now before the Scottsdale City Council. In one respect, I’ve been there myself. I was the director of Arizona State Parks during the purchase, study, planning, development, opening, and, for the first 10 years, operation of Kartchner Caverns State Park.

During the planning and development stages there were voices of difference on what should and, as importantly, what should not be done with the resource. A resource that was quickly designated as one of the top 10 caves in the world from a mineral diversity standpoint, not to mention that it was a “living cave,” a dripping wet cave just below the Arizona desert.All of the voices were valid. All envisioned a future for Kartchner Caverns that represented what they wanted Kartchner to be. All, indeed, wanted only what they thought best — from their standpoint. So it is with the Desert Discovery Center, now called Desert EDGE.

Various interests have expressed their views, and now Scottsdale City Council must decide the best use of the resource. The key question they must answer, I believe, is what positions the city into the future. Shall the Preserve remain as it is today, or should it become an environmental education showcase? I encourage them to vote for the Desert EDGE.

It is their decision. It is what we elected them to do and they have shown that they have taken the time to listen to the voices. To place the decision to a public vote skews the field to those who will only be satisfied with capitulation. Moreover, these are not “zero sum” circumstances. Those who want only to have their place to hike will still have it.

The discoverers of Kartchner, Randy Tufts and Gary Tennen, along with the Kartchner family realized they had something much more than just a pretty hole in the ground to entertain future visitors. They had a place to teach and inspire future decision makers. A place for visitors to understand their responsibility to study and unlock the hidden messages of their surroundings

Living on the desert edge requires us to prepare for the future. Desert EDGE is the perfect place to do just that. Frankly, you can’t do that without slowing the visitor down and engaging them in the contemplation a visitor center affords.Those of us who were primarily engaged in the development of Kartchner have witnessed the partnerships with The National Science Foundation, NASA, the U of A and a host of other scientific interests in furtherance of those goals.

We remain enthralled by the studies of microbes and their role in the formation of stalactites, the record of flora and fauna changes over eons, and the hydrological record contained there and their implications into the future.

We have not regretted our choices. Nor will the city council.

Editor’s note: Mr. Travous was the Arizona State Parks director for seven governors, both Democrat and Republican for the years 1986 through 1999. He is retired and lives in Scottsdale.

Environmental Study Ranks Arizona Second Lowest Among Western States

Source:  Joshua Bowling, The Republic/azcentral.com, October 18, 2017

It found Arizona’s access to public lands and responsible energy development need improvement.

Arizona State Parks and Trails Brings Home the Gold Medal for Best Managed State Park System

Source:  Arizona State Parks and Trails Press Release – September 26, 2017

Arizona State Parks and Trails today won the Gold Medal for best managed state park system in the nation from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The award was announced this morning during the national NRPA conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“This is a tremendous achievement that benefits everyone in our state – from residents to tourists,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “Winning the Gold Medal is a testament to the hard work, collaboration and innovation that Arizona State Parks and Trails demonstrated to get us to this point.”

Arizona State Parks and Trails was selected as a Final Four candidate in May, along with Tennessee State Parks; Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission; and Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites, and Trails.  Over the last two years, Arizona State Parks and Trails has established a self-sufficient funding structure, achieved record visitation and revenue and implemented a plan to reinvest in the system and create new parks.

“This Gold Medal win is not just about the staff of Arizona State Parks and Trails,” said Sue Black, Executive Director of Arizona State Parks and Trails. “This is about everyone in Arizona who contributes to our success or gets to enjoy our beautiful parks. It’s a huge honor to be considered the best-managed state park agency in the country, and we hope everyone will get out and see these amazing parks first-hand.”

To celebrate making it to the Final Four and hear the Gold Medal winner announced, agency partners, stakeholders and constituents gathered at the Arizona State Parks and Trails Outdoor Recreation Information Center on Tuesday morning as the event was live-streamed on Facebook from New Orleans. Executive Director Black accepted the award.

The Gold Medal Award honors state park systems throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices.

For information about all 35 Arizona State Parks and Natural Areas, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com.

PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (602) 542-1996 or (480) 589-8877 – Email: pio@azstateparks.gov

Arizona Game and Fish Officials Honroed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Source:  Western Outdoor Times, September 1, 2017

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) honored four leaders from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) for their conservation efforts at an awards ceremony last month.

Craig McMullen received the WAFWA Professional of the Year Award for achievements during his 24-year career with AZGFD. Starting with the department in 1993 as a Wildlife manager, McMullen quickly moved into positions of increasing responsibility including as chief of the Wildlife Recreation Branch and regional supervisor in Flagstaff for the past five years. In July, he was promoted to role of assistant director of field operations for AZGFD. “I am honored to have received the award of Professional of the Year,” McMullen said. “The award reflects the great and important work done by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and everyone who is a part of those efforts.”

The President’s Award was presented to the Mule Deer Working Group, which is led by Jim Heffelfinger, Wildlife science coordinator for AZGFD. The Mule Deer Working Group develops strategies to assist in the management of Mule Deer populations throughout the West, works to improve communication among Mule Deer biologists, and provides a forum to respond to information needs from agencies. “Our success rests entirely on robust collaboration and communication to deliver Mule Deer conservation across state and provincial boundaries,” Heffelfinger said.

AZGFD Wildlife Recreation Branch Chief Scott Lavinreceived the Contributor of the Year Award for his work on WAFWA’s Hunter, Angler, Shooting Sports and Wildlife Recreation Participation workgroup. Lavin’s efforts in Arizona continue to maintain a longstanding and active statewide R3 collaboration with strong industry support.

Recently retired AZGFD Director Larry Voyles was awarded with a WAFWA lifetime membership for his career accomplishments and service to the department.

The awards were presented in Vail, Colo., at WAFWA’s annual conference.