Source: Joshua Bowling, The Republic/azcentral.com, October 18, 2017
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Office of the Governor Doug Ducey Press Release, May 23,2017
Nestled between a leisurely stretch of the Verde River, one of the Southwest’s last free-flowing rivers, and open grasslands shaded by cottonwood trees sits the site of Arizona’s soon-to-be newest state park: Rockin’ River Ranch. The park, which is currently in the planning phase, received a $4 million appropriation in the budget recently signed by Governor Doug Ducey.
Once complete, Rockin’ River Ranch will provide visitors access to one of Arizona’s most unique and pristine natural landscapes, as well as enhanced opportunities for outdoor recreational activities. More than one mile of riverfront will provide access for fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing; stables and hiking trails will connect visitors to Prescott National Forest; camping grounds and cabins will provide lodging for overnight guests; previously cultivated fields will lend space for community events; and did we mention the horses?
“Arizona’s state parks are known for their beauty and accessibility,” said Governor Ducey. “Rockin’ River Ranch, along the banks of the Verde River, is another impressive piece of our state’s exceptional landscape. I am looking forward to opening the park for Arizonans and visitors from around the country to enjoy.”
Currently, Arizona State Parks and Trails is taking special care to preserve the natural beauty of the ranch, and local community input is being sought on park amenities and design.
“This park will not only be an asset to Camp Verde, but all Arizona,” said Senator Sylvia Allen, LD-6. “I’m proud we were able to make this investment and help preserve this beautiful part of our state.”
“I just wanted to thank Governor Doug Ducey and State Parks Director Sue Black for their diligent work on Rockin’ River Ranch. This is a great investment for all of Arizona that will enrich our community, while preserving the Verde River’s rich heritage and natural splendor,” said Representative Bob Thorpe, LD-6. “I look forward to seeing this park come to fruition with the positive impact it will have for our citizens and our guests of Northern Arizona.”
“With Rockin’ River Ranch, generations of Arizonans and visitors to our state will be able to enjoy all the Verde River has to offer for years to come,” said Representative Brenda Barton, LD-6.
“We are working diligently, in coordination with the community, to keep the park a picturesque place for all to explore,” said Sue Black, executive director of Arizona State Parks and Trails.
Arizona’s state parks have proved to be important economic engines for rural communities, providing a quarter of a billion dollars in economic impact annually.
“From the economic development aspect, state parks are a huge asset for any rural community lucky enough to have one,” said Town of Camp Verde Mayor Charles German. “Today we feel very lucky and grateful to Governor Ducey, his team at Arizona State Parks and the legislature for choosing to invest in Rockin’ River Ranch State Park.”
“We’re happy to be able to help fund such an important development for our state,” said Rep. Noel Campbell, LD-1. “Investing in new state parks means more economic development for local communities.”
“Our job is to ensure that our state and our residents thrive,” said Senator Karen Fann, LD-1. “By investing in conservation and recreation, we can continue to provide opportunities for growth.”
Arizona State Parks not only support local economic growth, but also provide resources to invest across the state. According to Black, “The overall success of our parks system is what provided the revenue to fund Rockin’ River.”
Source: Western Outdoor Times by Margie Anderson , May 5, 2017
There are 90 wilderness areas in our state – a total of 4,512,120 acres. That’s a lot of country! But what exactly is a wilderness area, what can you do there, and how does a place become a wilderness area? A wilderness area is a place where the lands are designated for preservation and protection in their natural state and where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by men (from the Wilderness Act of 1964). These lands remain undeveloped and no permanent improvement or human habitation is allowed. They are devoted to public purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historic use (Wilderness Act).
No Motors Involved
Wilderness areas are set aside for the enjoyment of the people, and any outdoor activity you can think of is permissible, as long as it doesn’t use mechanical transport or motorized equipment. So you can hike, boat, kayak, ski, swim, fish, hunt, bird, etc. – anything you want as long as there are no motors involved. The National Wilderness Preservation System has 109,127,689 acres, which is just 4.8 percent of the land in the United States. But 52 percent of that is in Alaska so in the mainland United States just 2.75 percent is set aside as wilderness. This is to protect some of the most beautiful and wild places.
Four Agencies Share Management
There are four agencies that share the managing of the wilderness areas: Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, and National Park Service. They share the responsibility of protecting the wilderness areas from human influence, and they have to take into account things like grazing, access to private lands, mining, fish and wildlife, cultural sites, fire, and even insects and disease.
Some wilderness areas have restrictions on group size, campsite location, or length of stay, and some of the more popular ones even require permits. All of this is to protect the wilderness from people, but also to ensure that the people who use the areas get some solitude. In some places, dogs may be prohibited or only allowed on leashes, and sometimes parts may be closed to protect sensitive habitats or to protect people. Only ten wilderness areas are completely closed to people and they are all island wildernesses.
What’s It Like To Visit?
So what’s it like to visit a wilderness area in Arizona? We recently visited the Hummingbird Springs Wilderness Area near Tonopah, which is off I-10 west of Phoenix. First of all, it was a bit difficult to find the right road, since on our maps the roads were not numbered, and my favorite mapping app, Trimble, no longer works. But, we did find the road in spite of having no interactive map. Hummingbird Springs is a bit different – there is a road that goes right along next to it, and that road divides Hummingbird Springs Wilderness from the Big Horn Mountains Wilderness Area. Hummingbird Springs Wilderness Area is 31,200 acres and includes eight miles of the Big Horn Mountains.
Tonopah Desert Is Gorgeous In Spring
The Tonopah desert is gorgeous in the spring, and there were wildflowers everywhere – the cacti were in bloom and so were the palo verde trees, and there were even tiny flowers about a quarter-inch across all over the ground. Bright yellow brittle bush blossoms were massed everywhere. We saw a deer, many beautiful birds, lizards, ground squirrels, and not a single other human being. The road is rough – it took us over two hours to go 14 miles, which is probably one reason why we never saw any other people.
Hummingbird Springs, Sugarloaf Mountain
Once you get to the end of the road, a fence bars you from using your vehicle to enter the wilderness area. There is a go-through for walking, and the road is now a hiking trail. It’s just over a mile to Hummingbird Springs from the fence. The spring is abandoned and the fins have fallen off the windmill, but the old cachement tanks are there, looking like the foundations of a house. There are several ruins around, and walking in to the spring is the only way to get a complete view of Sugarloaf Mountain, which is a pretty spectacular place. The base of the windmill is down in a ravine, and there is a hole beneath it with some water in it, so there are lots of animal tracks around. We thoroughly enjoyed our little hike and the drive in.
West Clear Creek and Miller Peak Wilderness Area
Another fantastic wilderness area to visit is the West Clear Creek Wilderness Area. It consists of a canyon that is only about a ½ mile to two miles wide, but it’s gorgeous and allows you to be by yourself in some of the most gorgeous country in Arizona. There is water down there and if you want to hike the whole canyon, you’re going to get your feet wet.This isn’t a trip you want to do during monsoon season – flash floods are a definite danger. You can even fish for trout in the creek. Start at Bull Pen Ranch for a pretty easy trail that follows the creek for six miles then goes up the northern slope and out of the canyon. It’s just east of Camp Verde and you can find maps and information online . . . We have also visited Miller Peak Wilderness Area near Sierra Vista in the Huachuca Mountains. This place is gorgeous and includes Miller Peak, which is 9,466 feet high. We took the grandkids up there last summer. The road to the top is one of those narrow, twisting gravel roads that are so much fun to drive.
There Is An Area For You
The world wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful if there weren’t wilderness areas. I think they are great, and I’m glad that there are places set aside where you can hike without seeing and hearing off-road vehicles tearing up the countryside. Wilderness areas are places to get away and relax and enjoy some solitude. Many are so out-of-the-way that you probably won’t see another soul the whole time you’re there. Arizona is particularly lucky because we have such a variety of terrains and habitats. Whether you want to see the desert in bloom, hike through a pristine forest, or adventure through a canyon, you can find a wilderness area that will satisfy your heart’s desire