Beth Woodin, Past President of the Alliance and Longtime Arizona Conservation Activist

Source:  Tony Davis, Arizona Daily Star – January 17, 2018

When the state bought 1,400 acres near Patagonia 14 years ago, the wetland home of a major endangered fish population was saved from the bulldozer. Beth Woodin was a driving force in creating the Arizona Heritage Fund that supplies money for such purchases.

Woodin died last week at her Sabino Creek home at age 71. She spent at least 40 years fighting to save wildlands like that acreage around Coal Mine Spring, home to the endangered Gila topminnow but until then a likely subdivision site. Woodin, a native New Yorker, lived along Sabino Creek since the 1970s with her husband, William Woodin, an early Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum director.

Beth Woodin, President of the Arizona Heritage Alliance, (c)2010 Tye R. Farrell

Just before her Jan. 10 death from cancer, Woodin left her nine-year position as board president of the Arizona Heritage Alliance advocacy group. On Saturday, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission gave her an award of excellence, at a Phoenix-area ceremony she had hoped to attend.

“She was one of the most dedicated persons around to doing
wonderful things for wildlife,” said Jim DeVos, a state Game and Fish Department assistant director who knew Woodin for 35 years. “She was always looking for that compromise to move conservation forward. She had her fingers in more conservation projects than anyone I know.”

Woodin was a state Game and Fish commissioner from 1990 to 1995, sat on the Arizona Nature Conservancy’s board in the 1980s and ’90s, and was on the Desert Museum’s board of trustees multiple times. In the 1980s, she was instrumental in persuading the Legislature to create a checkoff program allowing residents to set aside some of their state income taxes for programs benefiting nongame wildlife. The checkoff raised nearly $860,000 in the five fiscal years that ended June 30, 2017, state records show.

In 1990, she was a prime mover for a statewide voter initiative creating the Heritage Fund, which then took $20 million annually from state lottery proceeds for parks and nongame wildlife. Game and Fish has used the fund to buy nearly 18,000 acres of habitat.

Woodin and other fund backers fought at least 30 legislative efforts to divert some of that money, succeeding until the 2007-’08 economist bust. After that, the Legislature swept $10 million annually, which had gone for parks, into the general fund. She and her allies unsuccessfully tried to push through legislation to restore the parks fund.

At the end of her life, Woodin was plotting another run at restoring the Heritage Fund for parks, said Janice Miano, the heritage alliance’s board president. “She never gave up. She always had a plan.”

Woodin is survived by her husband; four stepsons; a sister, Jill Burkett, of Northern California; and eight grandchildren. Services will likely be held in the spring.

Welcome New Board Member – Bryan Martyn

Bryan Martyn grew up in Tempe and attended McClintock High School where he was active in student government and was a varsity athlete in baseball and football. He later earned a baseball scholarship to attend Arizona State University where he majored in Wildlife Biology. Following ASU, Bryan entered the US Army Helicopter Flight Training program where he graduated at the top of his flight class and was selected to fly the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter. While flying in the Army, Bryan served in Germany, Korea, Texas, and Alabama-completing combat tours in Iraq during Desert Storm and Bosnia. He was later hand-selected for an inter-service transfer from the Army to the United States Air Force to fly Special Operations helicopters. While flying in the USAF, Bryan served in New Mexico, England, and Arizona-completing multiple combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. Bryan retired after more than 20 years of military service. Shortly following his retirement, Bryan was elected as a County Supervisor in Pinal County. While serving as a County Supervisor, he was hired by the Arizona State Parks Board to serve as the Executive Director of Arizona State Parks. Bryan today owns a small consulting company with offices in Phoenix and Washington, DC. His firm focuses on veteran, military, environmental, and government policy issues.

Letter of Support on Behalf of The Nature Conservancy

Source:  Arizona Heritage Alliance Board of Directors’ Letter of Support Sent to Arizona Game and Fish Department for the Verde River-West Clear Creek Conservation Area – November 23, 2017

Ty Gray, Director
Arizona Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, AZ 85086-5000

Dear Director Gray:

On behalf of the Arizona Heritage Alliance Board of Directors, I am writing to voice our strong support for the Verde River – West Clear Creek Conservation Area as proposed by The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. As you know, the mission of the Alliance is to preserve and enhance Arizona’s historic, cultural, and natural heritage. The proposed partnership between your agency and the Nature Conservancy offers a unique opportunity for protecting and enhancing a significant swath of water resources, streamside forests, and wildlife habitat in the Lower Verde Valley.

We believe It is important to protect both Park Central Farm and Shield Ranch with conservation easements in order to preserve connectivity of habitat along the Verde River corridor for three miles and the confluence of the river with West Clear Creek. Protecting only one property will not achieve unified protection along both sides of the river and the West Clear Creek confluence.

Conservation easement acquisitions are an effective tool because they provide direct habitat protection and protect recreational opportunities while significantly reducing O&M costs. We also believe the use of Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Funds to facilitate this initiative is just the type of project the citizens of Arizona envisioned when voting to approve the Arizona Heritage Fund 27 years ago.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter and for your public service.

Sincerely yours,
Elizabeth T. Woodin
President

Travois: I Encourage Scottsdale City Council to vote for the Desert EDGE

Source:  Editorial by Ken Travous; Scottsdaleindependent.com – November 7, 2017

I have been following the Desert Discovery Center saga for the past few years, and I don’t envy the situation now before the Scottsdale City Council. In one respect, I’ve been there myself. I was the director of Arizona State Parks during the purchase, study, planning, development, opening, and, for the first 10 years, operation of Kartchner Caverns State Park.

During the planning and development stages there were voices of difference on what should and, as importantly, what should not be done with the resource. A resource that was quickly designated as one of the top 10 caves in the world from a mineral diversity standpoint, not to mention that it was a “living cave,” a dripping wet cave just below the Arizona desert.All of the voices were valid. All envisioned a future for Kartchner Caverns that represented what they wanted Kartchner to be. All, indeed, wanted only what they thought best — from their standpoint. So it is with the Desert Discovery Center, now called Desert EDGE.

Various interests have expressed their views, and now Scottsdale City Council must decide the best use of the resource. The key question they must answer, I believe, is what positions the city into the future. Shall the Preserve remain as it is today, or should it become an environmental education showcase? I encourage them to vote for the Desert EDGE.

It is their decision. It is what we elected them to do and they have shown that they have taken the time to listen to the voices. To place the decision to a public vote skews the field to those who will only be satisfied with capitulation. Moreover, these are not “zero sum” circumstances. Those who want only to have their place to hike will still have it.

The discoverers of Kartchner, Randy Tufts and Gary Tennen, along with the Kartchner family realized they had something much more than just a pretty hole in the ground to entertain future visitors. They had a place to teach and inspire future decision makers. A place for visitors to understand their responsibility to study and unlock the hidden messages of their surroundings

Living on the desert edge requires us to prepare for the future. Desert EDGE is the perfect place to do just that. Frankly, you can’t do that without slowing the visitor down and engaging them in the contemplation a visitor center affords.Those of us who were primarily engaged in the development of Kartchner have witnessed the partnerships with The National Science Foundation, NASA, the U of A and a host of other scientific interests in furtherance of those goals.

We remain enthralled by the studies of microbes and their role in the formation of stalactites, the record of flora and fauna changes over eons, and the hydrological record contained there and their implications into the future.

We have not regretted our choices. Nor will the city council.

Editor’s note: Mr. Travous was the Arizona State Parks director for seven governors, both Democrat and Republican for the years 1986 through 1999. He is retired and lives in Scottsdale.