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.

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.

Historic Powerball Jackpot Makes Positive Arizona Economic Impact

Source: AZ Business Magazine, September 14, 2017

Lottery players had an exciting month in August as the Powerball® jackpot climbed to the second largest in the game’s history. Although the top prize winner lives in Massachusetts, the historic $758 million jackpot still made a positive impact across the Grand Canyon State. 

“The whole world was watching this jackpot as it rolled closer and closer to $1 billion and the Lottery had the surge in sales to prove it,” Executive Director of the Arizona Lottery Gregg Edgar said. “These record-breaking jackpots do much more for Arizona residents than provide fun and excitement; they have a large economic impact on the state. Our retailers see an uptick in their earned commissions from increased sales, and the Lottery is also able to transfer more funds to its beneficiaries that serve numerous causes like foster children, local businesses, wildlife conservation, our homeless and much more.”

From this jackpot alone, the Arizona Lottery was able to transfer over $12.8 million to its beneficiaries. On average, the Arizona Lottery generates approximately $13 million annually to fund CASA and The Heritage Fund at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. With this Powerball run, the Lottery was able nearly fill those two beneficiary buckets.

While the top prize winning ticket was purchased in Massachusetts, Arizona Lottery players didn’t walk away empty-handed. Throughout the Powerball run, there were over 750,000 winners totaling over $7.9 million in prizes.

Not only did Arizona players and beneficiaries benefit from the Powerball run, the Lottery’s retail partners also saw a dramatic impact. This Powerball run garnered over $2.3 million in sales commissions in every corner of the state.

For more information on Arizona Lottery’s impact across the state, visit www.arizonalottery.com.