Learn bird viewing skills at migratory bird workshop

[Source: WMIcentral.com] – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a unique opportunity for people to learn more about the fascinating variety of birds found in the White Mountains area. On Friday evening, May 20, wildlife biologists will conduct a birding natural history program in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day that is free and open to the public at the department’s Pinetop regional office. The two-hour classroom program begins at6 p.m., and will be followed by a hands-on, field application session the next morning starting at7 a.m.

“This is a great opportunity for people to develop an appreciation for migratory birds that are found here seasonally, as well as learn bird identification skills using your senses of sight and sound,” says Dan Groebner, nongame biologist.

International Migratory Bird Day was created by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in 1993 as a way to focus attention on one of the most important and spectacular events in the life of a migratory bird – its journey between its summer and winter homes. Participants will be able to hear recorded calls, learn about birding websites, software and field guides, and learn how to get involved in department or other local birding programs. They will also be able to view dozens of bird mounts up close and learn distinguishing characteristics.

“There will be a birding hike around the office property Saturday morning with several hands-on activities to enhance learning,” says Groebner. “It’s a good idea to bring binoculars.” Funding for this special educational program is made available through the Game and Fish Heritage Fund, which comes from lottery ticket sales and is used for conservation purposes, including educating our children about wildlife, protecting endangered species and creating more opportunities for outdoor recreation. For more information, contact Dan Groebner at the Pinetop Game and Fish office at (928) 367-4281.

Historic preservation & heritage in 98th Arizona Town Hall report

[Source: Jim McPherson, President of the Board of Directors, Arizona Preservation Foundation] – The recently-concluded 98th Arizona Town Hall, “Capitalizing on Arizona’s Arts and Culture,” includes broad statements and specific recommendations related to Arizona’s history, heritage, historic preservation, adaptive reuse, and neighborhood and community revitalization ~ all intertwined and compatible with the arts and culture community.

The final report and priority actions were just released this afternoon and are available for review and download here: http://www.aztownhall.org/pdf/98th_Final_Recommendations.pdf

The background report, skillfully edited by ASU Art History Professor Betsy Fahlman, includes numerous references to the importance of Arizona’s heritage and built environment and several chapters themselves focus on preservation-related topics: Architecture and Sense of Place (Will Bruder); Artists and the Revitalization of Downtown Phoenix (Greg Esser); Historic Preservation (Debbie Abele); Museums (Alberto Rios); Placemaking and Social Capital (Kimber Lanning and Philip Allsopp); Preserve, Adapt, Restore, or Build Cultural Facilities (Shelley Cohn); and Tourism and Cultural Heritage (Dallen Timothy).  You can review and download it here: http://aztownhall.org/pdf/98th_Background_Report.pdf

Several of my fellow Town Hall participants will be attending the 9th Annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference in Tucson next month.  We’ll be happy to share further detail about what transpired this past week at the 98th Arizona Town Hall.

New Study Shows Outdoor Recreation Key To 87,000 Arizona Jobs

[Source: Valley Forward, 5-06-2011] – Arizona Businesses, Outdoor Recreation Groups Say New Figures Show Why Lawmakers Should Protect Wilderness and Tourism Initiatives

 More than 87,000Arizonajobs and $371 million in state tax revenues are supported by “human-powered recreation” such as hiking, mountain biking and camping, according to a new study commissioned by the Access Fund, a national climbing advocacy organization.

The report from two Arizona economists, both Arizona State University alumni, shows that legislative efforts to cut funding for state and national parks and land preservation, which support human-powered recreation, could put greater pressure onArizona’s hospitality industry and rural areas, which both depend on outdoor adventurers.

“Outdoor recreation is critical toArizona’s hospitality and tourism economy,” said Diane Brossart, president of Valley Forward Association, a 42-year old environmental public interest organization that counts many ofArizona’s largest corporations, small businesses and government agencies as members. “Our elected leaders must understand thatArizona’s recreation areas do more than fuel healthy lifestyles – they fuel our economy. Cutting our investment in state and national lands puts the brakes on any economic recovery here inArizona.”

 Specifically, the study shows:
·         38 percent of human-powered recreation outings result in an overnight stay.
·         Human-powered recreation produces $5.3 billion in annual retail sales inArizonaand generates nearly $371 million in state tax revenue.
·         Spending on human-powered recreation activities is responsible for 12 percent ofArizona’s total retail economy.
·         Human-powered recreation directly suports nearly 87,000Arizonajobs, and indirectly supports another 100,000 jobs. 

“We know that climbers, hikers, bikers and boaters leave an important economic impact on the local economy, but we wanted to be able to quantify that impact as much as possible,” said Brady Robinson, executive director of the Access Fund.

 Will Cobb, who heads the Northern Arizona Climbers Coalition, regularly sees the impact of outdoor recreation on local economies. “When someone takes their family or friends to a national park or recreation area in Arizona, they stay at local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and spend money with local gas stations and retailers—to say nothing of the money they spend with tourism and outfitting businesses,” he said.

Several efforts at the state and federal level threaten Arizona’s tourism industry, but none more directly than potential cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Some in Congress aim to drastically cut the 40-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides for local communities to use federal resources to preserve outdoor recreation areas for hiking, fishing, biking and other outdoor activities. LWCF uses no federal discretionary dollars and is deficit-neutral; the LWCF has been funded entirely by oil and gas royalties since its implementation. Cuts to LWCF would not reduce the federal deficit, but would be damaging toArizona’s tourism industry.

The LWCF helps fund state projects submitted and suggested by the State ofArizona, relying on “local control” for development and implementation plans. Specifically, the LWCF includes several current and upcoming projects:
·         The 2011 federal budget includes more than $13 million for sixArizonarecreation projects, including the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument and thePetrified Forest National Park.
·         The 2012 federal budget includes nearly $8 million forArizonaprojects including Shield Ranch and the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
·         Past LWCF projects include the Phoenix Metro Area Bikeway Development, bicycle trail developments inFlagstaff, the Scottsdale City Bikeways, the Tempe Sports Complex, the Municipal Golf Course in Casa Grande and Prescott CityPark.

 On the heels of the release of this new economic study, Arizona’s small business owners—many of whom rely on human-powered recreation—are asking Arizona’s elected officials to protect tourism-related jobs. To obtain a copy of the full report, click here.

 ABOUT VALLEY FORWARD Valley Forward has been bringing business and civic leaders together for more than four decades to convene thoughtful public dialogue on regional issues and to improve the environment and sustainability of Valley communities. The organization is now taking its mission statewide through an Arizona Forward initiative.

 ABOUT THE ACCESS FUND The Access Fund is a national advocacy organization that keeps U.S.climbing areas open and conserves the climbing environment. Now celebrating its 20th year, the Access Fund supports and represents over 2.3 million climbers nationwide.

State seeks help finding vandals who broke Upper Verde Wildlife Area gate lock

[Source: Prescott Daily Courier] – The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Yavapai Silent Witness are seeking information about vandals who broke the lock on a road gate at the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area east of Paulden.

The locking mechanism for the gate was broken sometime during the week of April 18, which then allowed for illegal vehicle access. Previous repeated problems with vandalism, littering and illegal off-highway vehicle use led the Game and Fish Department to close the property to vehicle access on April 22, 2010. This marks the second time the lock tab has been broken to allow vehicle access onto the property. The first incident took place sometime between March 11-13.

Yavapai Silent Witness is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the individual(s) responsible. Those with information should call (800) 932-3232. Caller identities will remain confidential.

“This is the same type of behavior that led to closure of vehicle access in the first place,” said Zen Mocarski, public information officer for the Game and Fish Region 3 office in Kingman. “The property had been open to vehicle access, but it became clear the situation was not going to improve without this closure.”  Game and Fish bought the Upper Verde River Wildlife Area, located at the headwaters of the Verde River near Paulden, in 1996 with money from the Heritage Fund.

The property consists of 1,089 acres of prime riparian habitat, which includes three miles of the Verde River and one mile of Granite Creek. Human use of the property must be appropriate to the primary goals of managing the wildlife area for the benefit of sensitive species, Mocarski said.

In 2009, the wildlife area was included in the Audubon Society’s Important Bird Area program. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has designated the Upper Verde River as critical habitat for the endangered spikedace fish.Mocarski said he has heard many of the arguments about motorized access, and most center on taxes. “I hear the argument a bunch: ‘Game and Fish bought this land with my taxes,'” Mocarski related. “This simply isn’t true. It was purchased with Heritage Funds, which come from the Arizona lottery. Game and Fish does not receive general fund tax dollars.”

To report acts of vandalism or other illegal activities, call (800) VANDALS. Callers should provide as much information as possible without contacting offending individuals.