Arizona Application period for 2013 Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Fund grants now open

Whether you won or lost when you bought a lottery ticket last year, some of your money is going to benefit something you would approve of helping Arizona’s schools and universities.

That’s because the bulk of this year’s grants from the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund are going to education and research. Heritage Fund money comes from Arizona Lottery ticket sales. This year, Game and Fish is using Heritage funds to award more than $415,000 to 23 grant projects across Arizona. When combined with matching money from other sources, the projects being funded total nearly $1 million invested in Arizona.

“Simply by buying Arizona Lottery tickets, Arizonans can help schools offer exciting opportunities for their students despite recent budget cuts. We are especially pleased to see a new trend in grant applications focused on school field trips that get children outside to enjoy our state’s great outdoors and wildlife recreation,” says Robyn Beck, the department’s Heritage grant coordinator.

Among the projects that won Heritage grants this year:
Deer Valley Unified School District, for the project “Sonoran Desert Studies Program: Outdoor Wildlife Education.” $6,159 grant.

  • Tempe Union School District, for the project “Environmental Biology Field Course- A Post-Fire Revision via Professional & Curriculum Development.” $1,700 grant.
  • Coconino County Superintendent of Schools, for the project “Five-Points Project: Exemplary Environmental Education in Northern Arizona.” $10,000 grant.
  • Arizona Western College, for the project “Bighorn Sheep Student Conservation Experience.” $2,500 grant.
  • City of Tucson, for the project “Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival: Birders Mean Business.” $17,302 grant.
  • City of Scottsdale, for the project “McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Baseline Fauna Survey.” $24,600 grant.
  • Town of Sahuarita, for the project “Sahuarita Lake- Public Access for Persons with Disabilities.” $9,500 grant.
  • Town of Clarkdale, for the project “Verde River @ Clarkdale.” $40,500 grant.
  • University of Arizona, for the project “Genetic Assessment of Arizona and Northern Mexico Ocelots.” $14,528 grant.
  • Northern Arizona University, for the project “Northern Mexican Garter Snake Habitat Use and Ecology.” $44,811 grant.

Arizona voters created the Heritage Fund back in 1990. The money from lottery ticket sales goes to conservation efforts like protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents to better coexist with wildlife, and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation. Over the years, Game and Fish has awarded a total of more than $12 million in grants to communities across the state.

The application period for the 2013 grant cycle is now open.

To learn more about Heritage grants and how to apply, attend one of the department’s workshops being held at the following times and locations:

1. Monday, July 30 at the Phoenix Game and Fish office, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. or from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

2. Thursday, Aug. 2 at the Yuma regional Game and Fish office, 9140 E. 28th St., Yuma. (Afternoon session only from 1 to 3 p.m.)

3. Monday, Aug. 13 at the Tucson regional Game and Fish office, 555 N. Greasewood Road, Tucson. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. or from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

4. Wednesday, Aug. 15 at the Pinetop regional Game and Fish office, 2878 E. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop. (Choice of two sessions from 2 to 4 p.m. or from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

5. Friday, Aug. 17 at the Flagstaff regional Game and Fish office, 3500 S. Lake Mary Road, Flagstaff. (Choice of two sessions from 1 to 3 p.m. or from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

6. Thursday, Aug. 30 at the Kingman regional Game and Fish office, 5325 N. Stockton Hill Road, Kingman. (Choice of two sessions from 2 to 4 p.m. or from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

Those planning to attend the workshops, and those wanting to learn more about eligibility for the grant money, should R.S.V.P. to Robyn Beck at (623) 236-7530. A minimum of three people must sign up for each workshop or the session will be cancelled 48 hours prior to the date. The application deadline is Oct. 1, 2012 at 5 p.m. MST.

Potential grant recipients must have a project that is either located in Arizona or involves research in which the wildlife or its habitat is located in Arizona. More information on the grants and application forms can be found at the department’s website at

A full list of this year’s Heritage grant winners and lists of your county’s previous grant winners are available by calling Public Information Officer Lynda Lambert at (623) 236-7203.

Come learn about high country hummingbirds in the White Mountains

[Source: Bruce Sitko, The Cerbat Gem] – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again offering a unique opportunity for people to learn more about Arizona’s colorful forest hummingbirds at the 9th annual High Country Hummers Festival. On Saturday, July 28, Sheri Williamson, one of the nation’s foremost experts on hummingbirds, will lead a capture and bird-banding event that is free and open to the public at the department’s Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area located near Eagar in eastern Arizona.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to get up close and personal with these flying jewels,” says Bruce Sitko, spokesman in the department’s Pinetop office. “We are quite fortunate to get Sheri, who is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America, to come with her staff of volunteers and demonstrate her research.” This free, one-of-a-kind program will begin at 8 a.m. and conclude at noon. Costs are underwritten by the department’s Heritage Fund. Supported by Arizona lottery dollars, the Heritage Fund is dedicated to the education, conservation and enhancement of Arizona’s wildlife, biological diversity, scenic wonders and environment.

Other fun programs will also be offered at the wildlife area that day. There will be educational exhibits featuring live hawks, owls and a bald eagle. You can even get your photo taken with one. Visitors can view presentations on hummingbird and eagle natural history. Department staff will lead a “birding basics” program, including identification tips, recommended field guides and technological tools available to aid in learning about our avian visitors.

People are also welcome to explore the visitor center’s interpretive displays on wildlife conservation, habitats and prehistoric culture. Breakfast and lunch concessions will be provided by the Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We encourage visitors to come prepared to spend most of the morning outdoors with the potential of some summer rain,” says Sitko. “It’s a good idea to bring a camera, as there will be plenty of great photo opportunities. We also require that pets be kept on a leash.”

Williamson, together with her husband Tom Wood, founded and operate the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (SABO), which is a non-profit scientific and educational organization based in Bisbee. SABO’s mission is to promote conservation of birds, their habitats and the diversity of species that share those habitats through research, monitoring and public education.

High Country Hummers is an officially designated Arizona Centennial event. To get to the wildlife area, take Highway 191 from Eagar toward Alpine 2 miles to the signed turnoff at the top of the first hill. Drive south 5 miles to the property on a gravel road suitable for cars. For more information, visit the High Country Hummers web page at

Voluntary fee for Arizona state parks off ballot

[Source: Jim Cross, KTAR] –Arizonans will not get the chance to vote on a voluntary fee to fund the state’s parks. The campaign to put the issue on the ballot ran out of money to hire paid circulators and fell short of the number of signatures needed.

The initiative would have asked voters to approve a $14 surcharge, added to the cost of each vehicle registration fee. That surcharge would have been voluntary and drivers would have to opt out by checking a box on the renewal form to avoid paying for it.

Christie Statler with the Arizona State Parks Foundation said Arizona’s parks are not in immediate jeopardy, but if the state raids the parks budget in the future, they will be. “This park system is a house of cards and could fold,” she said.

Lawmakers have refused to provide tax dollars to support the park system and took some of the money parks raised from admissions to help balance the budget in recent years.

A 2009 task force’s report to the governor said the parks system is threatened with extinction and cannot survive under a roller-coaster funding system. Statler said it was true then and and it is true now. “We have watched legislative sweeps that have reduced the ability of the park system to function,” she said. “All it would take is another sweep of funds to reduce the park system entirely. They’re operating on dental floss.”  Statler said the state parks system pumps about $250 million into the Arizona economy each year.

Initiative to fund Arizona state parks fails to make ballot

[Source: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services] –Arizonans are not going to get a chance to vote on whether they want to fund state parks with a surcharge on vehicle registration fees. Bill Meek, president of the Arizona Parks Foundation, said Tuesday the initiative campaign ran out of money about two weeks ago to hire paid circulators. “We had a really good army of volunteers,” he said. But Meek said that was insufficient to gather the 172,809 valid signatures needed by Thursday to put the question on the ballot.

Meek said, though, that is not the end of the issue. He said supporters of the plan will ask lawmakers next year to refer the issue to voters in 2014, bypassing the need to circulate petitions. The question of funding remains significant because lawmakers, looking for ways to balance the state budget in prior years, have refused to provide tax dollars to support the parks system. Complicating matters, legislators even took some of the money that had been raised from admission and other fees.

A 2009 task force report to Gov. Jan Brewer concluded that the parks system “is threatened with extinction and cannot survive under a roller-coaster system of financial support.”

The initiative had two key provisions.

One would have imposed a $14 surcharge added to the cost of each vehicle registration fee. That fee would be voluntary — but motorists would have to affirmatively opt out by checking a box on the renewal form to avoid paying it. Meek said states with similar systems manage to get anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of drivers agreeing to the additional fee. While Meek had no specific figures of what the fee might raise, that 2009 report estimated that even if half of motorists opt out, that could still raise $40 million a year.

The second half would make anything the parks system raised, whether from the vehicle license surcharge or admission fees, off limits to legislative raiding. Meek said he had hoped to line up sufficient major donors to get the signatures.

The idea of the registration fee is not new. In fact, it was part of the recommendations in that 2009 report to Brewer. Meek conceded there is probably no way lawmakers themselves would ever approve the plan — even with the opt-out provision — as many have taken a “no tax hike” pledge. Meek disputed, though, that it is a tax. But he said they might be willing to give voters a chance to weigh in by simply voting to put the issue on the ballot.

That logic worked in 2010 when lawmakers agreed to let voters decide whether to impose a temporary one-cent hike in the state sales tax. Several legislators who supported referring the issue to the ballot later said they voted against it in the special election that year. Meek, however, has an uphill fight, even to get that Referral.

A version of the vehicle license surcharge gained the support the following year by the House Committee on Natural Resources and Rural Affairs in 2010. But the full House refused to go along — or even send the question to the ballot.