[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].
[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.]
[Source: Michelle Price, Cronkite News Service] — Rita Gannon, a descendant of a Flagstaff pioneer, can breathe a sigh of relief — for now. The Arizona State Parks Board decided Friday to keep her ancestors’ property, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, operating. But its fate — along with seven other parks — depends on the Legislature, which is considering a bill that would restore money cut from the Arizona State Parks budget. The board voted to close Jerome State Historic Park in Jerome, McFarland State Historic Park in Florence and Tonto Natural Bridge State Park near Payson until at least June 30. Depending on what the Legislature does, more parks could close in early March, members said.
If Riordan Mansion were to close, the property would revert to Gannon’s family as part of an agreement that transferred it to the state. Rita Gannon, granddaughter of Timothy Riordan, a logging business owner who played a key role in the early growth of Flagstaff, said her family can’t manage that. “If they close it and we take it back, we cannot afford it, and it will fall to pieces,” said Gannon, who attended the hearing with her daughter Eileen. “It would be a shame.” Mike Davis, park manager at Riordan Mansion, which saw 26,209 visitors last year, said repercussions from closing the parks would be felt for years. “To walk away is an egregious example of throwing out the baby with the bath water,” he told the board.
Three other northern Arizona parks were on the list for closure: Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde, Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, and Red Rock State Park in Sedona. Shifra Leah Boehlje, a volunteer at Fort Verde, told the board that closing the park would jeopardize its preservation of the past. Fort Verde is considered the best-preserved example of Indian Wars-era military architecture in Arizona. “I know we are concerned about money, but at what sacrifice to our history, which would be lost forever,” she said. “The risk of losing our history is just too great.” Fort Verde drew 15,992 visitors in 2008.
Susan Secakuku, a project manager with the Homolovi Park Project, said the Homolovi ruins, which include four pueblo sites, are an important part of the Hopi Tribe’s heritage. “Homolovi is a place that the Hopi Tribe considers part of our ancestral homelands,” she said. “The historic and cultural heritage of the Hopi Tribe is the foundation of our life ways, including our connection with our historic villages.” The board rejected a motion to add Homolovi to the closures approved Friday because representatives said the Hopi Tribe could help staff the park. “We feel wonderful that they took a measured decision regarding Homolovi,” Secakuku said later. Dale Sinquah, a member of the Hopi Tribal Council, urged the board to find other ways to address the budget cuts. “These are trying times, and during trying times we need to think of innovative ways to keep things going,” he said. Homolovi had 15,200 visitors last year. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
Husband-and-wife team Alan Sorkowitz and Michele Rappoport have created a new website, seeitbeforeitcloses.com. Alan, a retired book publishing executive, and Michele, a retired marketing communications writer, moved to Tucson in 2006 and began learning about and appreciating the natural beauty and rich cultural, historical, and archaeological heritage of Arizona.
Alan enjoys hiking in the Sonoran desert and volunteering on archaeological digs. He is a member of numerous state and local cultural organizations and serves as archivist for the Tubac/Santa Cruz chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society. Michele designs and creates jewelry, much of which reflects the heritage of her new home state.
They created seeitbeforeitcloses.com in outrage over the threatened cuts to the Arizona state park system and to cultural sites — ancient Indian ruins, historic properties, arts centers, and others — being reported throughout the state. “We didn’t move to Arizona to watch helplessly as its beauty and distinctiveness are lost to shortsighted budget cuts that threaten both Arizona’s tourism economy and the quality of life for its citizens,” says Alan. Michele underscores this point, saying, “Arizona’s parks are America’s parks. People come here to witness the majesty of a place they can experience nowhere else in the country.”
The goal for the website is to raise awareness and provide information as well as to raise funds that can be used to maintain Arizona parks and cultural sites and organizations.