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

Funding cuts imperil marina plan

[Source: John Rudolf, Lake Havasu News-Herald] — A move by the deficit-challenged state legislature to sweep millions of dollars from the State Parks department could imperil a plan to build a new marina at Contact Point.  “I would not be candid if I did not say I was not nervous,” said Bill Porter, a volunteer member of the Arizona State Parks board, and a key supporter of the marina project.  “It’s at a critical point.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Three legislators kill popular ATV bill (Tucson Citizen editorial)

[Source: Tucson Citizen] — When is three greater than 37?  When the Legislature starts counting votes.  A bill with wide bipartisan support in the Legislature and broad backing from groups that traditionally don’t get along with each other was killed this week.  The bill, which would have required that all-terrain vehicles be registered and owners pay a user fee, was co-sponsored by 37 legislators, more than one-third of the total.

HB 2573 easily passed the House 43-13, with four members not voting.  It was sent to the Senate and assigned to the Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee.  The bill died Wednesday on a 3-3 vote.  The only southern Arizona senator on the committee, Marsha Arzberger, a Democrat from Willcox, voted to support the bill. 

ATV safety and control legislation is a definite need in Arizona, and the bill had support on the basis of widespread concurrence on that point.  Off-road vehicle use has risen sharply, by 350 percent since 1998, the Arizona Game & Fish Department reports.  That has exacerbated the issues of rider safety and environmental damage.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]