Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours is a HAM!

Corrected 6:43 am; 6/26
ARRL-Field-Day-16-06-25-01FLAGSTAFF — The Coconino County Amateur Radio Club participated in the Amateur Radio Relay League annual Field Day Event. The event is designed to demonstrate the abilities of amateur radio. Part of the demonstration includes allowing people to operate gear even without a license.

The event also allowed amateur radio operators, also called “Hams,” to demonstrate the usefulness of communications in an emergency situation. All of the units demonstrated were operated on alternative power, such as battery or generators.

ARRL-Field-Day-16-06-25-04Ron KG7OH and other CERT members displayed the equipment received after successful training. They were available for questions on the program and what you should carry when you hike in the woods in northern Arizona.

The Coconino Amateur radio club has an Amateur Radio Emergency System (ARES) team which provides emergency communications in times of distress. They operate in conjunction with CERT or separately depending on the situation. ARES is the ARRL version of what the Federal Communication Commission calls RACES or Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. Last year Arizona lost all telephone and Internet service when a fiber optic cable was cut and the FBI is investigating the cutting of fiber optic cables in California at least eleven-times. In these instances, amateur radios still work. Amateur radio operators have assisted in emergency communications in virtually every disaster faced by America. Including 911 and the devastation in Katrina.

ARRL-Field-Day-16-06-25-05COCO President, Sandy Meadowcroft, KF4JHC, demonstrated how amateur radios can be used to track a person in an emergency using GPS and a basic amateur hand held unit. She also demonstrated how Ham radio operators can pass emails even when the Internet is down. Glen, KG7YDJ, displayed a small radio and basic car jump starter can be used as an emergency communication system.

Mayor Nabours (left) discusses amateur radio with CARC vice-president Tom Sheehan.

Mayor Jerry Nabours (left) discusses amateur radio with CARC vice-president Tom Shehan, KY7WV.

Flagstaff Mayor Jerry Nabours even stopped by to get a sample of the many uses of amateur radio.

People also got to see the fun side of amateur radio. Amateur operators constantly work to improve their equipment and communication skills by making contacts as far away as they can. While Morse code is no longer a requirement for a license, many Hams still use it as a viable communication skill today.

While some Ham operators purchase radios and antennas from various outlets, others still build their own. Communications using digital computer programs are popular. There is even amateur radio television.

Joe, W7LUX, sets up solar telescope for interested people to see the sun.

Joe, W7LUX, sets up solar telescope for interested people to see the sun.

Joe, W7LUX, set up telescopes so that people could see activities on the sun. Unfortunately we are currently in a solar minimum, so there was not much to see. Joe still answered questions about how solar activity acts on the atmosphere of the earth to provide long distance communication.

The ARRL Field Day runs until 11 a.m. tomorrow and the Coconino Radio Club will start to break down the demonstration. If you are interested in amateur radio, the Coconino Amateur Radio Club meets every 2nd Thursday of the month (Except December) at 7 p.m. at the Sizzler on Route 66 and Fanning Drive in Flagstaff. You can also visit their web site.

Off-highway vehicle decal renewal notices available through e-mail only

PHOENIX — In an effort to enhance customer service and to cut costs, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will no longer mail letters informing off-highway vehicle (OHV) owners their yearly OHV decal is expiring.

To ensure owners receive timely notice that their decal is about to expire, they can sign up to receive a reminder through e-mail by visiting www.azgfd.gov/ohv and clicking “OHV Decal Requirements.”

The decal program began in 2009 and requires all OHVs, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), side-by-sides and dirt bikes, to have a sticker if the vehicle is designed primarily for travel on unimproved roadways or trails. The sticker, which is placed on the upper left-hand corner of the license plate, is issued by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and is required to operate an OHV on public and state lands.

There are approximately 112,000 vehicles issued OHV decals within the state. By encouraging OHV owners to receive renewal reminders online, the department hopes to save on the approximately $120,000 spent to print and mail notices each year.

Each sticker costs $25. Thirty percent of the funds collected go into the state’s Highway User Revenue Fund, which is distributed to counties and cities for road and highway maintenance. The remaining funds are split as follows:

  • 60 percent to Arizona State Parks for grants and agreements, trail construction, development and maintenance, signage and maps.
  • 35 percent to the Arizona Game and Fish Department for law enforcement, education and outreach.
  • 5 percent to the Arizona State Land Department for mitigation, signage and enforcement.

For more information about the Arizona Game and Fish OHV program and on safety courses, visit www.azgfd.gov/ohv.

Nominations sought for Game and Fish Commission Awards

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is soliciting nominations for its 2016 Commission Awards. The deadline for submission is Aug. 12, 2016. The purpose of these awards is to recognize Arizonans who have contributed significantly to the conservation of the state’s wildlife, its outdoor heritage, and the mission of the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Nominations are for the categories listed below and may include individuals, organizations, clubs, foundations or government agencies. Arizona Game and Fish Department employees are not eligible for nomination.

To submit a Commission Awards nomination, download a nomination form at https://www.azgfd.com/agency/commission/awards. Then submit the completed form and all supplemental materials to:  Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn: 2016 Commission Awards – DOHQ, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086  or fax to:  623-236-7299 or email to: lroe@azgfd.gov. Submission deadline is 5 p.m. August 12, 2016.

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Arizona files motion to intervene in lawsuit to defend motorized big game retrieval on Kaibab National Forest

Corrected: 6/25; 7:04 p.m.
PHOENIX — The State of Arizona and Office of the Arizona Attorney General today filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups challenging the U. S. Forest Service’s decision to allow limited off-road motorized big game retrieval by elk and bison hunters on the Kaibab National Forest.

The lawsuit was filed in January by WildEarth Guardians, Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Wildlands Network, and the Sierra Club.

“It’s interesting to note that the plaintiffs’ lawsuit targets hunters’ motorized big game retrieval, which is a small segment of off-highway vehicle use in the forest, but does not challenge other legitimate cross-country motor vehicle use. It suggests their lawsuit was filed more out of opposition to hunting than true concern for our natural resources,” said Pat Madden, incoming chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

Motorized retrieval is an important component enabling Arizona Game and Fish to fulfill its wildlife conservation mission. Uncontrolled elk and ecologically devastating bison populations can damage habitat and may harm other species. The Department is currently collaborating with the National Park Service to dramatically reduce the number of bison in Grand Canyon National Park, as unsustainable numbers of bison have migrated from the North Kaibab onto the park’s North Rim and are damaging water sources, vegetation, soil and archeological sites.

Elk weigh between 450 and 1,200 pounds and bison between 750 and 2,500 pounds. It is unlawful to leave the edible portion of a harvested animal in the field to waste. For some hunters, a harvested bison or elk can realistically be packed out of the field only by motorized transport.

Motorized retrieval is also an important component of the Department’s lead reduction conservation efforts for the California condor. The Department offers free coupons for lead-free ammunition to all hunters who draw tags for big game species on the North Kaibab and sponsors raffles to incentivize the minority of hunters who use lead ammunition to pack out the gut piles of their lawfully-harvested big game species. The gut pile of a mature bison can exceed 500 pounds. It is simply unrealistic to expect hunters to pack out large gut piles without ready access to a motor vehicle.

“The State is seeking to intervene in this lawsuit to protect its sovereign authority to regulate, manage and conserve wildlife in Arizona, including wildlife on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service,” said Madden. “Hunters play a critical role assisting the Arizona Game and Fish Department in managing elk and bison herd populations.”

The Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 and the National Forest Management Act of 1976 direct that the national forests be managed for multiple purposes, including outdoor recreation and fish and wildlife, and that the jurisdiction and authority of the states for management of fish and resident wildlife on the national forests are not affected.

The Forest Service, in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department, recognizes the Commission and Department as having primary responsibility for managing fish and wildlife populations on Forest Service lands in Arizona.

Off-road motorized big game retrieval historically had not been restricted on the Kaibab National Forest other than in areas with special land use designations, such as wilderness areas. In an effort to balance increasing off-road-vehicle recreational use with resource protection, the U.S. Forest Service in 2005 directed each forest to designate roads, trails and areas open to motor vehicle use. All other areas would be considered closed to off-road motor vehicle use, with a few exceptions such as motorized retrieval of big game. Arizona Game and Fish was a cooperating agency and/or offered comments in the development of the Kaibab’s new travel management rules.

The current rules allow hunters one trip with a motor vehicle, during hunting season only, to travel up to one mile off a designated road to pack their legally harvested elk out of the field on the Tusayan and Williams Ranger Districts, or their legally harvested bison or elk on the North Kaibab Ranger District. Hunters are required to use the most direct and least ground-disturbing route, and retrieval is not allowed in existing off-road travel-restricted areas or when conditions are such that travel would cause damage to natural and/or cultural resources. The rules don’t allow for motorized retrieval of any other big game species.

“Given the Department’s wildlife management responsibilities for elk, bison and the California condor, Arizona has an obligation to intervene in this lawsuit to defend the Kaibab National Forest’s authorization of limited motorized big game retrieval to preserve lawful hunting as a wildlife management tool, and in so doing, protect Arizona’s fragile natural resources,” said Arizona Game and Fish Department Director Larry Voyles.

AZGFD plans OUI patrol at Lake Havasu, lakes statewide this weekend

op-dry-waterLAKE HAVASU, Ariz. — With the recreational boating season in full swing, the Arizona Game and Fish Department will conduct a multi-agency sobriety checkpoint at Lake Havasu and area lakes as part of a statewide crackdown on those boating under the influence.

The checkpoint and patrols are being done to ensure boat operators are sober and to act as a reminder that operating a watercraft under the influence (OUI) is the most common contributing factor to injuries and fatalities on the nation’s waterways.

“Arizona’s waters can be fun for the whole family, but only if it’s done safely and responsibly,” said AZGFD Boating Law Administrator Tim Baumgarten. “Using alcohol or drugs can impair a boater’s judgement, vision and reaction time, and can increase a person’s willingness to take unnecessary risks. An impaired operator is 10 times more likely to be involved in a collision than someone who is sober.”

The effort is part of Operation Dry Water, a national awareness and enforcement campaign being done in partnership with AZGFD, Arizona law enforcement agencies, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and the U.S. Coast Guard. The operation runs Friday, June 24 to Sunday, June 26.

As part of the national campaign, boaters and watercraft users on Lake Havasu and other Arizona lakes will be subject to systematic safety inspections. Operators will also be screened for alcohol and/or drug impairment and to ensure that proper safety equipment, such as life jackets, throwable rescue devices and working fire extinguishers, are on board.

“Our goal is to promote safe and enjoyable boating on our waterways. By doing so, we hope to prevent the next tragic alcohol-related incident on the water,” Baumgarten added. “If you plan to drink on the water, please designate a sober operator.”

The patrols at Lake Havasu are part of a statewide effort among law enforcement agencies to increase public safety by targeting impaired operators. While on the water, boaters should also keep in mind:

  1. State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while onboard and that each passenger must have a properly fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Drowning is the most common cause of death in boating incidents, always wear your life jacket.
  2. Anyone being towed by a boat or on a personal watercraft, such as a Sea Doo or Jet Ski, must wear a life jacket.
  3. Know the “Rules of the Road,” navigation rules identify who has the right of way and determine the required direction of travel.
  4. Never allow passengers to board or swim while the engine(s) are running. A boat’s propeller can still be spinning while the motor is in neutral.
  5. Before starting the boat’s engine, walk to the stern to make sure no one is near the propeller.
  6. Take extra precautions around other boats towing skiers and/or tubers.
  7. Never reverse a boat to pick up someone out of the water.
  8. Paddle boards, kayaks and canoes are each considered watercraft and operators are required to have a wearable PFD on board while on the water. Furthermore, these watercraft must also follow the same laws pertaining to all motorized boats and watercraft.

It’s also recommended that all boat operators and passengers complete a boating safety course. For a list of courses hosted around the state, please visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

Amateur Radio Field Day active Saturday

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CARC Photo

FLAGSTAFF — The Coconino Amateur Radio Club will be participating in the annual Field Day event sponsored by the Amateur Radio Relay League. The event will be held at the Silver Saddle Outdoor Market on Highway 89a in Flagstaff. In Prescott, the Yavapai Amateur Radio Club will be hosting an event at the Jeep Posse building.

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CARC Photo

Amateur radio clubs across the nation participate in this event allowing the uninitiated a chance to find out what Amateur radio is all about. You DO NOT have to have an Amateur radio license to get a chance to work the equipment. If you are new to Ham radio, this is an opportunity to check out various HF operations.

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CARC Photo

Amateur radio has more to offer in this technologically advanced age. Most people do not realize that, with the Internet and Voice Over the Internet Protocol, you do not even need to purchase a radio. Echolink is a popular program that you can download and use on your computer and smart phone. You must have at least a technician license to use the program. There are web sites that allow you to operate over HF frequencies if you have the proper credentials.

Demonstrations at the Flagstaff location include:

  • SINGLE SIDE BAND RADIO
  • G.O.T.A (Get On The Air) STATION (You can talk of the radio)
  • DIGITAL STATION – sending message from radio to internet to radio, or, peer-to-peer
  • Auto Patch – Radio to phone
  • RIMLINK – Relaying radio messages from repeater to another repeater to reach Phoenix
  • APRS – Automatic Packet Reporting System
  • Alternative power sources – solar, hand cranked generator

Amateur radio groups across the country will operate at the exact same time and have similar activities. In Arizona the main operation will be from Saturday, June 25 at 11 a.m. ending Sunday at 11 a.m. In Flagstaff, the Coconino club will be setting up at 9 a.m. on Friday and members will be available in the afternoon for questions and possibly some demonstrations.

At 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Flagstaff location, the CARC will be giving the test for Amateur Extra for those who desire to get the license before the new examination is issued July 1. You must provide a picture I.D., copy of Amateur Radio license, and $15 fee. You need to bring a pencils for filling out the answer sheet and black pen for filling out the applications. You may bring and use a simple calculator.

Bert fire burning out

WILLIAMS — For Immediate Release. The Bert Fire on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest has decreased in activity over the last few days and is expected to continue to decline as the fire reaches pre-defined action perimeters.

Smoke an fire have diminished after the fire consumed the fuels of the approximately 5983 acres. Crews have effectively allowed fire to move across the landscape using techniques that were designed to successfully achieve management objectives. Much of the fire perimeter has now reached the identified boundaries previously set forth and managers are very pleased with the results.

Six hours to 10 minutes: Vehicle for hire application process transforms

vehicles-for-hire-licensing_originalPHOENIX — When the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division took over the Department of Weights and Measures’ Vehicle for Hire program, it immediately began looking for ways to streamline the application process as part of an agency-wide commitment to continuous improvement.

The result: MVD reduced what had been a six-hour application process for owners of taxi, livery vehicle and limousine companies to just 10 minutes.

The application process used to be entirely manual for both applicants and staff, which was time-consuming and involved going back and forth between state employees and business owners. Now it’s offered online at ServiceArizona.com, with business owners filling in the information themselves.

Business owners used to wait for vehicle insurance information to show up in MVD’s database before proceeding with their applications. Now MVD employees can enter the information themselves on behalf of insurance companies.

The 8,500 taxis, limos and other vehicles listed in the database once had to be inspected annually, creating an aggravating process for both inspectors and business owners. Now vehicles are inspected randomly as well as when complaints are received.

“We took an outdated, inefficient application process and applied modern technology and methods to it,” said Tom Opalka, MVD commercial driver license, medical review and vehicle for hire program manager, who oversaw this process improvement. “We’re now able to save our customers time ‒ and money ‒ by automating much of the process and streamlining the rest.”

Due to two pending laws coming out of this year’s legislative session, more improvements are coming to the Vehicle for Hire program later this month.  Instead of requiring a company to apply for an annual permit for each taxi, livery vehicle and limousine, MVD will issue one permit to the company for all of its vehicles to operate for three years at a time – similar to how transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft are permitted.

Streamlining the Vehicle for Hire program is just one example of how the Motor Vehicle Division is, like ADOT as a whole, continuously improving to benefit Arizonans.

For information on the Motor Vehicle Division, visit azdot.gov/mvd.

Learn more about AZGFD’s wildlife conservation activities

Game_Trails_Spr16_thumbThe Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Management Division produces periodic newsletters with overviews of AZGFD conservation projects and activities. One of the newsletters is “Game Trails,” and the latest edition can be viewed here.

Topics in this edition include management of the bison herd at the Raymond Wildlife Area, disease monitoring of bighorn sheep in the Black Mountains, safe capture and handling methods in the Sonoran pronghorn recovery project, and the upgrade of a water catchment providing water for wildlife on the Arizona Strip. 

We invite you to check out the other newsletters from our Wildlife Management Division at https://www.azgfd.com/Wildlife/WildlifeNewsletters.

There are many other ways to connect with the Arizona Game and Fish Department:

We invite you to utilize all of them to find out more about AZGFD’s activities, projects and programs; read compelling stories about wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation; view outstanding videos and still photography; and learn about upcoming events.

Bert Fire experiences largest day of growth

800-bert-160620-1046WILLIAMS — As expected, the Bert Fire on the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest reached its largest day of growth yesterday with just over 700 acres of fire spread bringing the total burned area to 5445 acres.

The Bert Fire is located ten-miles southeast of Valle on highway 180 near Ebert Mountain.

The Northern Arizona Type 3 incident management team assumed management on Tuesday morning after a predicted increase in fire activity. Crews were ready for the change in fire behavior as near record high temperatures combined with low relative humidity prompted the anticipated growth. Containment lines held while several land management objectives continued to be met with positive results including key improvements to grassland restoration.

An increase in high lifting smoke was visible from far reaching areas surrounding the vicinity of the fire but overnight impacts remained minimal. Smoke may continue to be noticeable over the next several days until monsoonal precipitation eventually arrives.