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

Open letter to Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee

Dear Chairman Kavanagh and members of the JLBC:

The Arizona Heritage Alliance’s mission is to protect and educate about the Heritage Fund, its purposes, potential, and accomplishments, and to ensure that the Fund’s money is spent as it was established by initiative statute concieved for and by the people in 1990.

With that mission in mind, we respectfully request that you review favorably the Arizona State Parks Board’s budget transfer request which includes the return of Heritage Fund grant money to its rightful grantees from the 2009 grant cycle.  That grant money already awarded and in process of going on the ground was “frozen” by the Board in February 2009 following deep cuts made by the Legislature to the Arizona State Parks Budget.  The Legislature then permitted the Parks Board to use “other funds” (including Heritage Funds) to make up for the sweeps.  Heritage Fund grant awards were therefore “frozen” in February 2009 by the Parks Board.  This action caused great hardship to the grantees, their projects which included many historic monuments, and to their communities.  At the August Parks Board meeting, its members voted to “unfreeze” that grant money pending a positive review of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

The Arizona Heritage Alliance is hereby adding its voice to that of the Arizona State Parks Board in requesting that you permit them now to restore that funding so that they can release it to the awarded grantees at long last.

We appreciate this opportunity to share our concerns with you with the hope that the Arizona State Parks Board will be able to honor its commitments to those many grantees.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth T. Woodin
President
Arizona Heritage Alliance

Sign up for Arizona Heritage Alliance “Alerts!”

If you hike, boat, ride, hunt, fish, watch wildlife, visit a park, or tour historic sites, then Arizona’s Heritage Fund affects your life!  The Arizona Heritage Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created in 1992 to protect Arizona’s Heritage Fund and its objectives.  It is guided by a Board of Directors drawn from a broad base of outdoor sports, environmental conservation, and historic preservation organizations that helped pass the 1990 statewide voter initiative creating the Heritage Fund.

Numerous state legislative attempts have been made to redirect the flow of Heritage Funds.   Our supporters, through hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, letters, and one-on-one meetings, have successfully maintained the integrity of the Heritage Fund.   Unfortunately, the Arizona Legislature succeeded in “sweeping” all Heritage Fund monies for the current state budget shortfall.

Help us correct the situation by signing up to receive special “Alerts!” and visiting the What You Can Do section to learn of more ways to support the cause.  At any time, contact us if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas.

Thank you,
Beth Woodin
President, Arizona Heritage Alliance

President’s Message, May 2008

We have been so fortunate the past few years.  Arizona’s economy has been robust without any budget shortfalls.  That has made the State Legislature much less difficult to deal with regards to fully funded Heritage Fund projects.  The Morrison Institute, in a 2007 study of ideas and public policies for livability and competitiveness, said, “The Heritage Fund stands out in part because of the diversity of programs it supports.  Funds have been used to maintain trails, acquire and maintain habitat for endangered species, preserve historic and archeological sites, create and improve community and state parks, and provide environmental education.”

The Arizona Heritage Alliance Board has been busy with the visionary project of a more protected and additive funding concept for both Arizona State Parks and Arizona Game and Fish.  We have engaged a public dialogue, with the goal of a consensus among the parties.  While the public working group recently postponed any voter initiative effort during the 2008 election cycle, we at the Arizona Heritage Alliance are committed to remain the center to conversations within the conservation, preservation, and recreation communities about what will work for the future.  It seems at present all parties agree a number of threats exist to our quality of life, but no clear path to address these concerns has developed.  All agree, however, that continued and frequent discourse with all parties needs to happen.

This same working group designed a simple pledge for our state lawmakers.  Check and see who has signed on.  This signed pledge on behalf of the Heritage Fund is an investment in safe playground equipment for our children; new parks and trails; the reintroduction of endangered species into Arizona; the restoration of historic buildings; and the conservation of wild and open spaces and critical habitat for wildlife.

If your legislators have not signed our pledge, ask them to do so.  If they have signed on, thank them for helping preserve Arizona’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources.  These are the things which make Arizona such a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

Best wishes to all,

Don Farmer