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: Save Our National Monuments

Source:  By William Thornton and Tom Hanagan, Special to the Arizona Daily StarJune 4, 2017 

The president’s executive order to review national monuments could recommend downsizing or abolishing monuments over 100,000 acres designated since 1996. A brief history of the Antiquities Act and case study from Ironwood Forest in our own backyard might clear up some misconceptions.

Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906, the Antiquities Act gives the president authority to, by proclamation, create national monuments from public lands to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. The law was necessary after decades of looting and desecration at Native American sites such as Chaco Canyon. Roosevelt went on to designate 18 national monuments. Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest in Arizona have been upgraded to National Park status.

National Monuments are owned by the American people.  Each of Roosevelt’s successors, Democrat or BighornSheep1FromAZGF-300x200Republican, has used the Antiquities Act to protect lands in the public domain. Opponents of new national monuments have characterized the process as “arbitrary, capricious” and subject to manipulation by “tree huggers” who draw lines on a map, and before you know it, the public is “locked out” and economic activity comes to a screeching halt.

In reality a monument proposal must make a compelling case that the area contains natural or cultural features worthy of protection. For Ironwood Forest these features include: the only surviving indigenous herd of desert bighorn sheep in the Tucson area, the largest stand of desert ironwood trees, numerous archaeological sites and critical habitat for an endangered cactus.

What does monument designation mean for Ironwood Forest?

DSCN0353-585x438Monument land has benefited from thousands of hours of hands-on work by hundreds of volunteers from the Friends of Ironwood Forest, Arizona Native Plant Society, Bighorn Sheep Society, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Sierra Club and many others. Invasive buffelgrass is one of the most serious threats to our Sonoran Desert. A coordinated effort to control it is making progress, but it may not have been possible without monument designation.

Free access is available with restrictions deemed necessary to protect the resource. Hunting is permitted subject to regulation by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. Privately owned parcels within the monument remain available for use subject to local zoning laws. When funds are available, land may be purchased from willing sellers. Land has been donated, but the BLM cannot seize or force the sale of private land.

Historically, mining and ranching have been major economic activities in the area. Grazing leases on monument land remain in force and are renewable. The Pioneer Materials quarry continues to operate.

Outdoor recreation is big business in Arizona, bringing $10.6 billion in consumer spending, $787 million in state and local tax revenue, and supporting 104,000 Arizona jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Parks and monuments are a big part of the picture.

National monuments do not belong to the president or Congress. They are our lands and heritage but will remain so only if we speak up. Comments may be submitted through monumentsforall.org or regulations.gov.  Deadline is July 10. Also, please contact Senator Flake and Senator McCain and your congressperson and respectfully request that they stand up for our monuments.

William Thornton is a second-generation native Arizonan, lifelong conservationist, and outdoor enthusiast. He serves on the board of directors of the Arizona Heritage Alliance and is vice president of Friends of Ironwood Forest. Tom Hanagan is president of Friends of Ironwood Forest.

Arizona’s Wilderness Areas

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, s_bottomTEMP-4624Fish 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

Arizona Volunteers Provide Critical Support to County and State Parks

Source: Public Insight Network Bureau

During the Spring 2017 semester, an ASU student and representative from the Public Insight Network Bureau spent some time with the community of individuals involved in environmental20170225_100527 protection and conservation. The student explored how these Arizonans are working to address the environmental issues that concern them, both through volunteer work and political activism within the state. At the PIN Bureau, they aim to increase public participation in journalism and believe that every person has insight or a newsworthy experience they can share.  Part of their work includes engaging with a community, and reaching out to voices that can sometimes go somewhat unheard in the mainstream media.  Click here to read the student’s final project.