[Source: Steve Ayers, Verde Independent, 3-20-2010] — Once again, vandalism and abuse of public lands is forcing those whose job it is to protect those lands to limit access. This week, the Arizona Game & Fish Department announced that it would restrict motorized access to its Upper Verde River Wildlife Area beginning April 22. The agency’s move comes in response to years of vandalism, along with the continued destruction of habitat from illegal use of off-road vehicles.
The 1,089-acre property is prime riparian habitat that includes three miles of the very upper reach of the Verde River along with a mile-long stretch of Granite Creek. It was purchased by the state using Heritage Fund money from the lottery in 1996. “The problem has been ongoing for several years now,” said Zen Mocarski, public information office for AZGF. “There has been a lot of off-road vehicle abuse, a lot of fences have been cut, a lot of habitat destruction.” Mocarski says the property is managed for its wildlife and riparian area and those management goals take precedent. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]