Arizona’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) is now ready for Review by the Public

(Phoenix, Arizona – September 10, 2012) – The Arizona State Parks department is responsible for writing Arizona’s Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) every five years. This plan sets the evaluation criteria to allocate the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grants, along with other applicable grant programs consistent with the state’s outdoor recreation priorities as identified by public participants in the research. This policy plan is now available online in a draft format for public review at AZStateParks.com/SCORP and will be available for comment through October 7, 2012. The final plan will be implemented starting January 1, 2013.

Citizens interested in outdoor recreation in Arizona have participated with State Parks staff in the collection of recreation data since last May to build this first draft of the 2012 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). For more than 47 years, this offshore oil and gas leasing revenue fund, passed by Congress in 1965, has been used to plan, develop and expand outdoor recreation throughout America.

Arizona has received $60 million dollars from this fund toward the enhancement of outdoor recreation for Arizona communities and those monies were distributed through 728 grants administered by State Parks.

Arizona State Parks is committed to preparing a highly integrated outdoor recreation system for the future. This plan balances the recreational use and protection of natural and cultural resources. It also strengthens the awareness of the public between outdoor recreation with health benefits while also producing opportunities to enhance the economies and quality of life for residents. Recreation managers of cities, counties, the state and Federal government organizations in Arizona use this information for more specific recreation planning and budgeting. The plan also offers leadership opportunities to make decisions about the State’s enhancement of outdoor recreation sites, programs and infrastructure.

2013 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

The 2013 SCORP Planning Process

Arizona State Parks is responsible for completing a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) every five years. The 2008 SCORP was a comprehensive report that included partnering with Arizona State University to conduct a statewide telephone survey of households. The 2013 SCORP is a targeted update to the 2008 SCORP to address the unique changes and challenges of the past five years.

Oversight, direction and input for the SCORP 2013 comes from a SCORP Work Group consisting of outdoor recreation professionals from a variety of organizations across the state. As part of the 2013 SCORP two online surveys were available beginning May 1, 2013 through May 31, 2012, one for Outdoor Recreation Providers, another to members of the public who had signed up for outdoor recreation agency list serves, email lists, newsletters and other constituents. In addition, a press release was sent out about the public survey, and the information was also made available on websites for those who were looking for outdoor recreation opportunities in Arizona on multiple agencies’ websites.

Tell us what you think!

This updated draft report contains a review of research related to outdoor recreation trends and issues, survey results from both the Outdoor Recreation Providers and Involved Recreation User surveys, indicating their opinions, preferences and outdoor recreation needs. Survey results are used to identify changes in outdoor recreation experiences during the last five years, and to identify primary outdoor recreation issues that need to be addressed statewide. This will enable public land agencies to improve your outdoor recreation experience by allocating scarce resources to issues that are most important to you. We would love to hear what you think. Please look at the document and send us your comments! Comments are due by October 7, 2012.

Download 2013 SCORP Draft Plan Document  (PDF Document3 MB PDF)

Download 2013 SCORP Draft Plan Supplement: Tourism & Outdoor Recreation (PDF Document400 KB PDF)

Download 2013 SCORP Draft Plan: Appendices & High Resolution Maps (33 MB PDF)

Submit Comments By Email
If, after reviewing the document you would like to submit public comments, or suggestions to be incorporated into the final SCORP document you can email feedback to: SCORP2013@azstateparks.gov

Submit Comments By Mail
If you would rather submit your comments or suggestions via mail, please send feedback to:
Arizona State Parks
ATTN: SCORP
1300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

If you would like Arizona State Parks staff to send you a paper copy of the draft plan to review, you can call (602) 542-4174 to request a copy. The Final 2013 SCORP will be available in January 2013.

Come learn about high country hummingbirds in the White Mountains

[Source: Bruce Sitko, The Cerbat Gem] – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again offering a unique opportunity for people to learn more about Arizona’s colorful forest hummingbirds at the 9th annual High Country Hummers Festival. On Saturday, July 28, Sheri Williamson, one of the nation’s foremost experts on hummingbirds, will lead a capture and bird-banding event that is free and open to the public at the department’s Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area located near Eagar in eastern Arizona.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to get up close and personal with these flying jewels,” says Bruce Sitko, spokesman in the department’s Pinetop office. “We are quite fortunate to get Sheri, who is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, to come with her staff of volunteers and demonstrate her research.” This free, one-of-a-kind program will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at noon. Costs are underwritten by the department’s Heritage Fund. Supported by Arizona lottery dollars, the Heritage Fund is dedicated to the education, conservation and enhancement of Arizona’s wildlife, biological diversity, scenic wonders and environment.

Other fun programs will also be offered at the wildlife area that day. There will be educational exhibits featuring live hawks, owls and a bald eagle. You can even get your photo taken with one. Visitors can view presentations on hummingbird and eagle natural history. Department staff will lead a “birding basics” program, including identification tips, recommended field guides and technological tools available to aid in learning about our avian visitors.

People are also welcome to explore the visitor center’s interpretive displays on wildlife conservation, habitats and prehistoric culture. Breakfast and lunch concessions will be provided by the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We encourage visitors to come prepared to spend most of the morning outdoors with the potential of some summer rain,” says Sitko. “It’s a good idea to bring a camera, as there will be plenty of great photo opportunities. We also require that pets be kept on a leash.”

Williamson, together with her husband Tom Wood, founded and operate the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO), which is a non-profit scientific and educational organization based in Bisbee. SABO’s mission is to promote conservation of birds, their habitats and the diversity of species that share those habitats through research, monitoring and public education.

High Country Hummers is an officially designated Arizona Centennial event. To get to the wildlife area, take Highway 191 from Eagar toward Alpine 2 miles to the signed turnoff at the top of the first hill. Drive south 5 miles to the property on a gravel road suitable for cars. For more information, visit the High Country Hummers web page at www.azgfd.gov/outdoor_recreation/hummingbird.shtml.

Lawmakers must agree to help

[Source: Arizona Republic Editorial, 2/4/2012] – Lawmakers: Take a hike. We mean that in the nicest possible way. You see, our elected officials have been out of step with their constituents. A few hours under a big-sky horizon or a serenade by the wind through some saguaro needles might help them get in touch with those they represent.

Arizonans responded to a recent poll with resounding support for conservation and the state parks.

Yet since 2008, lawmakers have swept $81.6 million from Arizona State Parks. They’ve cut out all state support from the general fund. In addition, the $10 million a year in Lottery money that used to go to the parks, part of the voter-approved Heritage Fund, was eliminated. Completely and permanently. Even the money that the parks raise on their own through user fees was routinely raided.

One positive move is House Bill 2362, which says revenue from park user fees, concessions and other revenue generated by the parks should be used for the parks. The bill passed a House committee unanimously this week. It’s important, but it’s not enough. The years of reduced funding have seriously impacted what the State Parks Board can do.

This does not just impact walks through magnificent landscapes or tours of historic places. The state parks were set up in the late 1950s by forward-looking lawmakers as an economic engine for rural Arizona. They spur tourism to rural communities, drawing more than 2 million visitors a year. Those tourists spend in gas stations, restaurants, shops and hotels.

What’s more, Heritage Fund grants through the Arizona State Parks Board went well beyond the state system to aid cities with outdoor recreation, fund historic preservation and maintain trails throughout the state. That money is gone now. The loss will be felt statewide.

These things matter to Arizonans. They also matter to those who are measuring our state’s quality of life when looking to relocate or set up business. Arizonans get this. A recent poll showed that 87 percent of Arizonans say funding parks should be a priority — even in tough economic times. The “State of the Rockies” report released this week also found that 78 percent of Arizonans think environmental stewardship and a healthy economy are compatible. Pitting one against the other is obsolete.

State lawmakers faced tough budget decisions in recent years. But Arizonans clearly do not want cuts to the state parks to be permanent. This poll, released by the Colorado College, was conducted by two polling firms, one that primarily does work for Republicans and another that usually works for Democrats.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they considered themselves to be conservatives — more than any other single category. Support for conservation was strong across the political spectrum.

Conservation is not a right or left issue to Arizonans. It’s a center-of-the-trail issue. Lawmakers need to get in step.

Meeting will brainstorm Verde River @ Clarkdale Ideas sought to protect, restore and sustain river

[Source: Philip Wright, Verde Independent, 2/2/2012] – The Verde River @ Clarkdale project gained traction in July as a means to help the local economy by improving public access and expanding recreational opportunities along the 2.2 miles of the river through Clarkdale. The project is expected to become an integral part of the Sustainable Clarkdale vision.

To that end, the town is inviting the public to bring ideas to a Verde River @ Clarkdale brainstorming meeting Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The goal of that meeting is to begin creating a framework for a comprehensive master plan for preservation, protection and restoration of the river and its habitat in Clarkdale.

According to a press release from the Community Development Department, meeting participants will work in groups to address various topics regarding the project.

Those topics include:

– Increasing recreation such as kayaking, hiking and birding.

– Expanding public river access within Clarkdale to include outfitter support, comfort stations and parking areas.

– Creating educational opportunities, which would include access and interpretive signage.

– Exploring alternatives to current ditch diversions to enhance the river’s flow.

The Verde River @ Clarkdale project got started last summer when Mayor Doug Von Gausig and Town Manager Gayle Mabery spent time making an inventory of underperforming assets in Clarkdale.

During a July council meeting Jodie Filardo, director of community and economic development, told the council that what Von Gausig and Mabery discovered was that key resources – the Verde River and related areas – are underutilized, inaccessible, and as a result, economically undervalued by the town and its residents. Filardo further reported that she and Von Gausig had already made contact with representatives of the American Rivers Blue Trails program. She explained that the American Rivers program would open up many possibilities, and possible funding sources, for a project such as the Verde River @ Clarkdale. At that meeting, the Town Council directed staff to pursue ideas for the Verde River @ Clarkdale project.

In late September, the council approved having staff go after two grants from the Heritage Fund of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Filardo reported to the council that the state had $112,500 available for Urban Wildlife and $50,000 for Public Access grants. She told the council that the Verde River @ Clarkdale project aligns well with both of those granting focus areas.