Arizona moving to use conservation money before vote

[Source: Arizona Capitol Times, Paul Davenport] – Arizona parks officials and local governments in the Phoenix and Flagstaff areas are moving to spend up to $52 million of land conservation money that legislators envisioned being used instead to help keep the budget in the black.

The state Parks Board on Wednesday voted to award grants to Coconino County and the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale for separate purchases of large parcels of state trust land for preservation as open space. The $52 million would come from a decade-old land conservation fund authorized by a voter-approved 1998 ballot measure that is now the subject of a new ballot measure that appears as Proposition 301 on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.

Under the Growing Smarter conservation program, public and private entities can get state funding for purchases of trust land for conservation purposes. The purchaser must provide a match to the state funding [to read the full article click here].

Mark your calendar for 2009 Governor’s Rural & Regional Development Conference

Save the date for the 2009 Governor’s Rural and Regional Development Conference, which will be held August 26-28, 2009 at the Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park.  This year’s conference will examine opportunities and initial progress resulting from Arizona’s share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Additional sessions include an update on the national, state and regional economies; Arizona’s competitiveness in site selection and incentives; renewable energies, and more.

The conference is a partnership between the Arizona Department of Commerce and the Arizona Association for Economic Development.  Registration will begin in June, and updates will be posted at the Department of Commerce’s website.

4 condors to join wild flock at Vermilion Cliffs

[Source: Ron Dungan, Arizona Republic] — Witness the release of four California condors at 11 a.m. Saturday at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in northern Arizona. “Arizona is privileged to be home to one of only three wild California condor populations in the world, so residents and visitors to our state have a unique opportunity to watch this release,” said Kathy Sullivan, a condor biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Condors were added to the federal endangered species list in 1967. In the 1980s, biologists captured the remaining 22 birds and started a captive-breeding program. Condors produced in captivity are periodically released to help expand the wild populations. [To read the full article, click here].

Arizona biologists begin monitoring collared jaguar

Animal determined to be oldest known jaguar in the wild.

[Source: Arizona Game & Fish] — Early data received from the tracking device on the recently captured and collared jaguar in Arizona is already giving biologists a better understanding of the cat’s movement and foraging patterns.  With nearly a week’s worth of data, the Arizona Game and Fish Department noted that the jaguar moved several miles after collaring to a very high and rugged area that the cat has been known to use in southern Arizona.  The animal has stayed in that general vicinity for a few days with apparent patterns of rest and visits to a nearby creek.  During the collaring, the cat appeared to have just fed on prey, which will aid its recovery and allow it to go for a period of time without feeding.

The satellite tracking technology will allow biologists to study diet and feeding patterns to learn more about the ecological requirements of the species in borderland habitats.  Scientists have also confirmed the identification of the collared animal: The cat is Macho B, an older male cat that has been photographed by trail cameras periodically over the past 13 years…

This conservation effort is funded in part by the Heritage Fund and Indian gaming revenue.  Started in 1990, the Heritage Fund was established by Arizona voters to further conservation efforts in the state including protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents to better coexist with wildlife and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation.  Funding comes from Arizona Lottery ticket sales.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]