Arizona Game and Fish Commission Honors Conservationists at Awards Banquet

Source:  Arizona Game and Fish Department Press Release – January 19, 2018

Nineteen individuals and organizations were honored at the annual Arizona Game and Fish Commission Awards Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix. The awards recognize Arizonans who have contributed significantly to the conservation of the state’s wildlife, its outdoor heritage, and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Among those honored were Gov. Doug Ducey for State Advocate of the Year (the award was accepted on behalf of the governor by Natural Resources Policy Advisor Hunter Moore); Sen. Jeff Flake for Federal Advocate of the Year; 3TV Meteorologist Kim Quintero (one of two winners of Media of the Year); and Elizabeth (Beth) Woodin, who 

Members of the Alliance accepting the Award on behalf of Beth Woodin

served on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission in the 1990’s and was president of the Arizona Heritage Alliance. Ms. Woodin sadly passed away last week and was awarded posthumously.

The complete list of award winners is:

  • Award of Excellence: Lake Havasu Marine Association
  • Award of Excellence: Elizabeth Woodin
  • Youth Environmentalist of the Year: Chase Godbehere
  • Media of the Year: Kim Quintero   
  • Media of the Year: National Veterans Magazine
  • Conservation Organization of the Year: Phoenix Varmint Callers, Inc.
  • Conservationist of the Year: Clyde Weakley
  • Natural Resource Professional of the Year: Erica Stewart
  • Volunteer of the Year: Ron Adams
  • Educator of the Year: Michael Eilertsen
  • Mentor of the Year: Justin Stewart
  • Advocate of the Year – State: Gov. Doug Ducey;
  • Advocate of the Year – Federal: Sen. Jeff Flake
  • Business Partner of the Year: OneAZ Credit Union
  • Buck Appleby Hunter Education Instructor of the Year: John and Linda Vedo
  • Wildlife Habitat Steward of the Year: Double O Ranch 
  • North American Model Commissioners Award: Luke Thompson
  • Chairman’s Award: Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club​​​​​​​

Beth Woodin, Past President of the Alliance and Longtime Arizona Conservation Activist

Source:  Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star – January 17, 2018

When the state bought 1,400 acres near Patagonia 14 years ago, the wetland home of a major endangered fish population was saved from the bulldozer. Beth Woodin was a driving force in creating the Arizona Heritage Fund that supplies money for such purchases.

Woodin died last week at her Sabino Creek home at age 71. She spent at least 40 years fighting to save wildlands like that acreage around Coal Mine Spring, home to the endangered Gila topminnow but until then a likely subdivision site. Woodin, a native New Yorker, lived along Sabino Creek since the 1970s with her husband, William Woodin, an early Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum director.

Beth Woodin, President of the Arizona Heritage Alliance, (c)2010 Tye R. Farrell

Just before her Jan. 10 death from cancer, Woodin left her nine-year position as board president of the Arizona Heritage Alliance advocacy group. On Saturday, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission gave her an award of excellence, at a Phoenix-area ceremony she had hoped to attend.

“She was one of the most dedicated persons around to doing
wonderful things for wildlife,” said Jim DeVos, a state Game and Fish Department assistant director who knew Woodin for 35 years. “She was always looking for that compromise to move conservation forward. She had her fingers in more conservation projects than anyone I know.”

Woodin was a state Game and Fish commissioner from 1990 to 1995, sat on the Arizona Nature Conservancy’s board in the 1980s and ’90s, and was on the Desert Museum’s board of trustees multiple times. In the 1980s, she was instrumental in persuading the Legislature to create a checkoff program allowing residents to set aside some of their state income taxes for programs benefiting nongame wildlife. The checkoff raised nearly $860,000 in the five fiscal years that ended June 30, 2017, state records show.

In 1990, she was a prime mover for a statewide voter initiative creating the Heritage Fund, which then took $20 million annually from state lottery proceeds for parks and nongame wildlife. Game and Fish has used the fund to buy nearly 18,000 acres of habitat.

Woodin and other fund backers fought at least 30 legislative efforts to divert some of that money, succeeding until the 2007-’08 economist bust. After that, the Legislature swept $10 million annually, which had gone for parks, into the general fund. She and her allies unsuccessfully tried to push through legislation to restore the parks fund.

At the end of her life, Woodin was plotting another run at restoring the Heritage Fund for parks, said Janice Miano, the heritage alliance’s board president. “She never gave up. She always had a plan.”

Woodin is survived by her husband; four stepsons; a sister, Jill Burkett, of Northern California; and eight grandchildren. Services will likely be held in the spring.

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

Source:  Editorial by Ken Travous; – 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/, October 18, 2017

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