Arizona State Parks and Trails Brings Home the Gold Medal for Best Managed State Park System

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: pio@azstateparks.gov

Arizona Game and Fish Officials Honroed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Source:  Western Outdoor Times, September 1, 2017

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) honored four leaders from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) for their conservation efforts at an awards ceremony last month.

Craig McMullen received the WAFWA Professional of the Year Award for achievements during his 24-year career with AZGFD. Starting with the department in 1993 as a Wildlife manager, McMullen quickly moved into positions of increasing responsibility including as chief of the Wildlife Recreation Branch and regional supervisor in Flagstaff for the past five years. In July, he was promoted to role of assistant director of field operations for AZGFD. “I am honored to have received the award of Professional of the Year,” McMullen said. “The award reflects the great and important work done by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and everyone who is a part of those efforts.”

The President’s Award was presented to the Mule Deer Working Group, which is led by Jim Heffelfinger, Wildlife science coordinator for AZGFD. The Mule Deer Working Group develops strategies to assist in the management of Mule Deer populations throughout the West, works to improve communication among Mule Deer biologists, and provides a forum to respond to information needs from agencies. “Our success rests entirely on robust collaboration and communication to deliver Mule Deer conservation across state and provincial boundaries,” Heffelfinger said.

AZGFD Wildlife Recreation Branch Chief Scott Lavinreceived the Contributor of the Year Award for his work on WAFWA’s Hunter, Angler, Shooting Sports and Wildlife Recreation Participation workgroup. Lavin’s efforts in Arizona continue to maintain a longstanding and active statewide R3 collaboration with strong industry support.

Recently retired AZGFD Director Larry Voyles was awarded with a WAFWA lifetime membership for his career accomplishments and service to the department.

The awards were presented in Vail, Colo., at WAFWA’s annual conference.

Arizona Game and Fish Accepting Applications for 2018 Heritage Fund Grants

Source:  Arizona Game and Fish Department Press Release – August 11, 2017

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is accepting applications for more than $400,000 in Heritage Fund grants. The deadline to submit an application is Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017 to be eligible for grant funding, which will be available through a competitive application process in the following categories: environmental education, outdoor education, schoolyard habitat, urban wildlife/habitat, public access; and Identification, Inventory, Acquisition, Protection and Management (IIAPM).

In addition to government agencies, the department welcomes non-profit organizations to apply for a Heritage Grant as eligible applicants. This eligibility applies to any non-profit group which meets the internal revenue service definition of a 501(c) organization.

The Heritage Fund was created after voters approved an initiative in 1990 and is funded through Arizona Lottery ticket sales. Heritage funding goes toward conservation efforts such as protecting endangered species, educating students and the general public about wildlife and the outdoors, and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The grant program was established by AZGFD in 1992 as part of the overall Heritage Fund program. The grants were initially developed as a way to promote outreach to enhance important partnerships and generate fresh approaches in support of the department’s mission. Since the grant program’s inception, the department has awarded more than $16 million and supported more than 800 projects throughout the state.

Applicants for this year’s grants should refer to the documents on our Heritage Grant web page for guidance on applying. The documents include the Heritage Grant application manual, the grant application form and the various “Heritage Grant Funding Window” documents, which describe eligibility information and provide specific eligibility criteria listed within each grant sub-category.

Potential grant recipients must have a project that is either located in Arizona or involves research in which the wildlife or its habitat is located in the state and meets the requirements in the funding windows.

Proposals and applications for these grants can be submitted either by e-mail to rbeck@azgfd.gov or mailed to Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: Wildlife Grant Administrator, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. No faxed applications will be accepted.

Applicants can submit grant applications up until the application deadline of 5 p.m. (MST)Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

Arizona Conservationists to be Honored at 2017 Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet

Source:  Arizona Game and Fish Press Release, July 25, 2017

The Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation, together with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, will induct five individuals into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame. Wildlife for Tomorrow was created in 1990 to enhance the management, protection and enjoyment of Arizona’s fish and wildlife resources. The foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works closely with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to provide additional support for projects and education activities where traditional resources are not adequate.

The Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame was developed in 1998 by the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation to honor those who have made significant contributions to Arizona’s wildlife, the welfare of its natural resources and the state’s outdoor heritage. The Foundation’s 20th Annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place during the annual Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame Banquet on Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Embassy Suites Scottsdale at 5001 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale.

The inductees for this year’s event include:

  • Steve Hirsch, of Phoenix, is being inducted posthumously. Steve was a prominent attorney, avid outdoorsman and the son of Bob Hirsch, a prior Hall of Fame inductee and acclaimed outdoors columnist. Steve’s passion for Arizona and its wildlife led him to serve as a director and the president of the Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation for more than 16 years. Steve’s leadership and vision provided the driving force for Wildlife for Tomorrow as it worked closely with the department to support projects that benefited the management and enjoyment of Arizona’s fish and wildlife resources, youth educational activities and projects that made a difference to wildlife habitat in our state.
  • Larry Voyles, of Phoenix, has devoted his 43-year career to wildlife conservation and outdoor heritage, including nine years as director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He began his career with AZGFD as a wildlife manager and in 2008 was selected as the agency’s director. He worked to modernize the department and unified the 50 states’ conservation agencies to improve wildlife conservation efforts nationwide. He is a national leader in shooting sports, recruitment and retention.
  •  Jean Wilson, of Yuma, who has served Yuma County readers for decades through her outdoors column in the Yuma Sun and has dedicated her life to encouraging families and children to appreciate the outdoors. She regularly runs clinics and classes designed to get people to enjoy fishing, hunting and archery.
  • Steve Clark, of Glendale, who is a founding member of the Arizona Elk Society and has worked tirelessly for the past 17 years to carry the organization and its mission forward. He also serves on the Arizona Livestock Recovery Board and the Arizona Natural Resources Committee, was recognized as Civilian Conservationist of the Year in 2010 by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Conservationist of the Year in 2015 by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
  • Warner Glenn, of Douglas, a fourth-generation Arizona cattle rancher who operates two ranches in Cochise County. In addition to ranching, he operates the hunting guide service established by his father – legendary hunter Marvin Glenn. In 1991, Warner Glenn was among the founders of the Malpai Borderlands Group, a conservation ranching organization that established a system of scientific-based ecosystem management on more than 1 million acres of ranch land in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.