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.

Welcome New Board Member – Walter W. (Bill) Meek

Source:  Arizona Heritage Alliance December 29, 2017 Newsletter

In early December 2017, the Arizona Heritage Alliance elected Walter W. (Bill) Meek to serve  a three year term on the Alliance’s Board of Directors. Welcome Bill and thank you for your support of the Alliance’s mission and goals.

Walter W. (Bill) Meek, a 50-year resident of Arizona, is past president of the Arizona State Parks Foundation, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving conditions at State Parks.  Bill retired in 2007 after 14 years as the founding president and CEO of the 7,000-member Arizona Utility Investors Association, now known as the Arizona Investment Council. Before that, Bill spent 15 years running marketing communications companies in Phoenix, San Diego, and Tucson and another 15 years working as a newspaper reporter and editor, including ten years at The Arizona Republic.

Letter of Support on Behalf of The Nature Conservancy

Source:  Arizona Heritage Alliance Board of Directors’ Letter of Support Sent to Arizona Game and Fish Department for the Verde River-West Clear Creek Conservation Area – November 23, 2017

Ty Gray, Director
Arizona Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000

Dear Director Gray:

On behalf of the Arizona Heritage Alliance Board of Directors, I am writing to voice our strong support for the Verde River – West Clear Creek Conservation Area as proposed by The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. As you know, the mission of the Alliance is to preserve and enhance Arizona’s historic, cultural, and natural heritage. The proposed partnership between your agency and the Nature Conservancy offers a unique opportunity for protecting and enhancing a significant swath of water resources, streamside forests, and wildlife habitat in the Lower Verde Valley.

We believe It is important to protect both Park Central Farm and Shield Ranch with conservation easements in order to preserve connectivity of habitat along the Verde River corridor for three miles and the confluence of the river with West Clear Creek. Protecting only one property will not achieve unified protection along both sides of the river and the West Clear Creek confluence.

Conservation easement acquisitions are an effective tool because they provide direct habitat protection and protect recreational opportunities while significantly reducing O&M costs. We also believe the use of Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Funds to facilitate this initiative is just the type of project the citizens of Arizona envisioned when voting to approve the Arizona Heritage Fund 27 years ago.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter and for your public service.

Sincerely yours,
Elizabeth T. Woodin
President