Upper Verde suffers from off-road vehicle abuse

It’s illegal to drive vehicles anywhere off authorized roads and trails on the Prescott National Forest, and it has been that way for a decade.[Source: Joanna Dodder Nellans, Verde News, June 10, 2008] — The spectacular scenery and cool waters of the Upper Verde make it a magnet for an ever-increasing number of illegal ORV users who are destroying signs and then carving roads along its banks.  Arizona Game and Fish Department estimates Arizona has experienced a 347% increase in ORV users in the last decade.  Some have a huge attraction to driving through the water, evidenced by some of the illegal activities they post on Internet sites such as You Tube.

The state Senate Natural Resource Committee conducted a hearing this week about off-road vehicle issues.  Despite all the increasing problems, the Legislature raided the remaining four months worth of money ($395,000) in the Game and Fish 2007-08 budget for ORV law enforcement and education.  It also swept the Arizona State Parks fund for ORV education and grant money.  And it’s highly likely this will happen again for the entire budget year that begins July 1, said Sen. Tom O’Halleran of Sedona, who opposes such budget raids.

The Prescott National Forest used one of the State Parks grants recently to replace vandalized signs in the Upper Verde area.  The State Parks Ambassador Program is another victim of the budget cuts, said Jeff Gursh of the Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition.  It trains ORV volunteers to monitor trails including one on the Prescott National Forest below Crown King.  State Parks also provides educational brochures to ATV dealers out of the cut funds.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Tourism launches campaign highlighing state parks

In collaboration with Arizona State Parks and Arizona Trail Association, AOT is launching a new in-state campaign to highlight the amazing discoveries, signature beauty, and vibrant outdoor adventures that are all “Just Feet Away.”  Arizona Passages is an integrated campaign that energizes our brand promise by creating unique southwest moments for our in-state residents.  It addresses potential budget concerns for summer travel by encouraging new discoveries and adventure that are easily accessible.  It features outdoor adventures throughout the state, but also encompasses the experiences that highlight the rural charm and beauty of our cities and towns outside of the major metropolitan areas.

The call to Arizona residents to plan their adventure will be in print, radio, online, mall advertising, billboards, and much more that direct consumers to www.AZPassages.com.  This dynamic Web site is a true blend of AOT’s commitment to cutting-edge technology by providing itineraries, downloadable maps, meet-up groups, expert and peer recommendations, as well as information on all State Parks, and the Arizona Trail to give travelers the tools they need to explore Arizona.

June 7 is National Trails Day

American Hiking Society’s signature trail awareness program, National Trails Day, inspires the public and trail enthusiasts nationwide to seek out their favorite trails to discover, learn about, and celebrate trails while participating in educational exhibits, trail dedications, gear demonstrations, instructional workshops, and trail work projects.  Click here to learn about events in Arizona and other parts of the U.S.

Voters overwhelmingly support Phoenix parks, open space

Phoenix Sonoran Preserve[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a 30-year extension of Phoenix’s Parks and Preserve Initiative, ensuring hundreds of millions of dollars for the construction and operation of recreational areas in the city. Unofficial results showed that more than four in five voters supported extending the decade-old tax, which amounts to one cent for every $10 purchase. Supporters hailed the passage of the tax as a landmark step in the effort to provide high-quality parks and preserves within Phoenix.

“I thank and congratulate the voters of Phoenix who, once again, have expressed their remarkable vision,” Mayor Phil Gordon said in a statement. “Not even a troublesome national economy can discourage our citizens from embracing a good opportunity to invest in the city our children will inherit.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]