Tiger trout to be stocked in Rim Lakes for Memorial Day weekend

PINETOP — The Arizona Game and Fish Department will be stocking a hybrid trout new to Arizona, in two Arizona Rim Country lakes this week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Willow Springs Lake and Woods Canyon Lake will each be stocked with catchable size (8-10 inch) tiger trout the week of May 23.

The tiger trout is a brown-brook trout hybrid. As a result of this hybridization, the tiger trout will be sterile, or unable to reproduce. As tiger trout grow, their worm-like pattern becomes more distinct.

Last summer, the AZGFD obtained around 18,000 tiger trout fingerlings (3-6 inches) from Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The trout were raised at the Tonto Creek Hatchery near Payson until they grew to a catchable (at least 8 inch) size.

In addition to Woods Canyon and Willow Springs Lake being stocked with tiger trout, Becker Lake and Carnero Lake were stocked with tiger trout earlier in May. In all of these lakes, tiger trout are being stocked in addition to rainbow trout.

At Woods Canyon Lake and Willow Springs Lake, the standard bag limit of six trout in any combination applies.

At Becker Lake and Carnero Lake, special regulations apply. Becker Lake is catch-and-release only, artificial fly and lure only, and a single barbless hook. At Carnero Lake, there is a two trout daily bag limit, in any combination, and only artificial fly and lure only can be used.

“People typically fly fish for tiger trout,” said Mike Lopez, AZGFD aquatics program manager. “They’re probably more like a brown trout, so lures and flies should work well, because they actively look for prey.”

Lopez also suggests that fishing in the early morning or late in the day will be the most successful because the tiger trout will be most active at those times.

These four lakes were chosen because they are currently managed for rainbow trout sport fishing. Adding tiger trout to the lakes will add diversity and expanded opportunities to the Arizona fishing experience. Because the tiger trout are sterile, the fish won’t establish downstream and potentially impact native fish.

See more information about fishing in Arizona.

Governor signs HB 2324 as a boost to Arizona military families

PHOENIX — A bill to allow spouses of active duty military personnel stationed in Arizona to qualify for Arizona resident hunting and fishing licenses has been signed into law. Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2324: G&F; military spouses; resident licenses, sponsored by Representative Frank Pratt (LD-8, Casa Grande).

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously at their January 2016 meeting to support this expression of gratitude for the families whose service and sacrifice protect our liberties. Under current law, an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States stationed in Arizona either permanently or temporarily may purchase a resident license permitting the taking of wildlife. HB2324 now extends that privilege to their spouses as well.

“In partnership with Rep. Pratt, the Arizona Game and Fish Department and Commission are proud to honor our active duty military and their spouses. We thank them, and all our veterans, for their sacrifice and service to this country.” said Commission Chairman Kurt Davis.

A valid license is required for taking wildlife, including fish, in Arizona. A resident of Arizona can enjoy the benefits of a combination Hunting and Fishing license, valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, for only $57.

In general, an Arizona resident is a person who is domiciled (claims the state of Arizona as their permanent home and principal residence) in this state for six months immediately preceding the date of application for a license, permit, tag, or stamp and does not claim residency for any purpose in another state or jurisdiction.

Through the years, the department has consistently implemented programs that provide hunting tags and opportunities for veterans, wounded warriors, and military personnel to hunt on military installations throughout AZ.

The Department also has partnered with non-profit organizations serving veterans so that unused hunting permits or tags may be donated to veterans with service-connected disabilities.

No state highway construction closures over Memorial Day weekend

In 2015, 295 people were killed on Arizona roads in alcohol-related crashes. Don’t drink and drive.

PHOENIX — During the Memorial Day weekend, state and local agencies are focusing on keeping motorists safe and placing equipment and resources along heavily traveled highways to help move traffic should incidents occur.

The Arizona Department of Transportation and its contractors won’t schedule construction closures along state highways from Friday through late Monday evening. Drivers are urged to use caution over the holiday weekend in existing work zones and in three “holiday travel corridors” that will receive extra enforcement and resources to minimize travel delays.

As they have during recent major holiday weekends, ADOT and the Arizona Department of Public Safety are emphasizing safety in three high-traffic zones: Interstate 17 between north Phoenix and Flagstaff, Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson and State Route 87 between Mesa and Payson. Along those routes, ADOT crews will strategically stage equipment, such as loaders and utility trucks, minimizing travel delays with faster response times to crashes and stalled vehicles. Overhead signs will update travelers on traffic conditions and safety reminders.

DPS will focus on preventing three leading causes of traffic deaths: speeding, impaired driving and lack of seat-belt use. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is working with local, county and state law enforcement agencies on a holiday DUI enforcement campaign. Last year in Arizona, 12 people died in 11 fatal traffic collisions during the holiday weekend. Six of the crashes were alcohol-related.

No closures are scheduled during the holiday weekend, but travelers should be aware that existing work-zone restrictions with lane reductions will remain in place. This includes I-10 in Benson and eastbound I-40 about 30 miles east of Kingman.

Because unexpected delays can occur due to crashes and stalled vehicles, drivers are encouraged to:
• Pack extra drinking water and snacks
• Avoid the busiest travel times, if possible
• Get plenty of rest before driving
• Check vehicles, including tire pressure, belts and fluid levels

If a trip to Sedona is in your holiday weekend plans, town officials urge motorists traveling north on I-17 to consider taking State Route 260 and US 89A and avoid heavy traffic on State Route 179.

Real-time highway conditions are available on ADOT’s Travel Information Center at az511.gov, by calling 511 and through ADOT’s Twitter feed @ArizonaDOT.

Thunderstorms possible through Friday

WILLIAMS — There is about a 20% chance of thunderstorms tonight and through Friday. It is expected to clear up Saturday morning remaining sunny through Memorial Day. Monday night partly cloudy skies return. Winds will be from 9- to 17-mph tonight and tomorrow with gusts as high as 24-mph. Williams Memorial Day weather has returned.

One-day fishing licenses are 50-percent off: get yours before the holiday weekend

PHOENIX — Your next outdoor adventure just got more affordable: through May 30, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering half-price discounts on short-term fishing licenses. The license discount is only available online.

This is the first time the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) has offered such a license discount. AZGFD is excited to be able to offer better products and increased value while continuing to conserve wildlife for future generations.

Just in time for the Memorial Holiday weekend, short-term (one-day) fishing licenses are only $7.50 per day for Arizona residents and $10 per day for non-residents.

Pick your favorite spot, and get back to basics with some quiet time at the lake. This is the perfect opportunity to tussle with some tiger trout that will be stocked into Mogollon Rim lakes just in time for the first big camping weekend of the year.

In spring 2013, Senate Bill 1223 gave the Arizona Game and Fish Commission authority to change license structure and fees through a streamlined, customer-focused process. AZGFD, which receives no general fund tax revenue, now has the flexibility to offer new products and pricing in response to changing conditions and customer needs.

Visit azgfd.gov for more information and to stay “in the know” on future offers and products.

In Williams, fishing licenses are available at the Outdoor Store on Fourth Street and Route 66, Saya’s on First Street and Route 66 and other locations.

Smoke from forest fire to reduce visibility on Interstate 17 near Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF — Motorists traveling on Interstate 17 and State Route 87 in northern Arizona are likely to see smoke over the next week from three fires burning in the Coconino National Forest.

The Cowboy, Mormon and Pivot Rock fires are relatively small in size, and the U.S. Forest Service is allowing them to burn. Smoke could be visible through the weekend from all three fires.

The Cowboy fire is just east of I-17 at the Kelly Canyon Road interchange north of Munds Park. There could be heavy smoke along I-17 between the Newman Park Road and Kelly Canyon Road interchanges on Tuesday as Forest Service crews manage the fire along the interstate.

Flames will be visible from I-17. Smoke will most likely settle over the interstate Tuesday night.

Motorists are advised to use caution, as the smoke could reduce visibility and firefighters will be working near the highway.

Smoke from the Mormon fire, about five miles east of Munds Park, could affect visibility along SR 87 north of Clints Well.

Smoke from the Pivot Rock fire near SR 87 at milepost 284 could also affect visibility along the highway south of Clints Well.

Motorists traveling along State Route 288 north of Roosevelt Lake may also encounter smoke from the Juniper fire, another managed fire in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness Area of the Tonto National Forest.

The Forest Service, under certain conditions, allows fires to burn to reduce fuels and the risk of more severe wildfires. During managed fire operations, community members and visitors may see fire personnel and vehicles in the vicinity.

To stay up to date with the latest highway conditions around the state, visit the Arizona Department of Transportation Traveler Information Center at az511.gov, call 511 or follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT).

Cross-border traffic on the rise between Arizona and Mexico

PHOENIX — Nearly 8,000 more trucks, 400,000 more passenger vehicles and 900,000 more people entering the U.S. in 2015 through Arizona’s international ports of entry speak to numbers critical to this state’s economy:

• $30 billion in imports and exports passing through Arizona’s ports during the year, including much of the produce consumed in the U.S. during the winter.
• $16.8 billion in Arizona exports to Mexico during 2015.
• 100,000 Arizona jobs supported by trade with Mexico.
• $7.8 million spent daily by those visiting Arizona from Mexico.

“The impact of our ports of entry is far reaching,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “The increase in cross-border traffic is another example of Arizona’s flourishing business climate and growing opportunities for economic development.”

U.S. Department of Transportation figures for northbound traffic at Arizona ports of entry showed commercial trucks up 2.1 percent (388,657 total), passenger vehicles up 4.5 percent (8.9 million total) and people visiting Arizona up 4.1 percent (23.8 million total).

U.S. DOT data show that traffic has increased steadily through the years at ports of entry in Nogales, San Luis, Douglas, Lukeville, Naco and Sasabe:

“This amount of cross-border traffic and the continual upward trend in volume means we must continue to make smart investments at the border and ensure that our ports of entry have the necessary staffing and resources to operate effectively, efficiently and safely,” said John Halikowski, director of the Arizona Department of Transportation. “ADOT is working to improve transportation infrastructure at the border, along with traffic flows, with projects slated for State Route 189 and Interstate 19, and ongoing efforts to study how to build Interstate 11 from Nogales to the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.”

David Farca, president of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, noted that the figures don’t reflect the fact that ports handle southbound traffic as well.

“In reality, our ports of entry processed close to 800,000 trucks, 17 million cars, 48 million people and 1,600 trains,” Farca said. “The ports of entry that connect Arizona to Mexico are of great significance to our economy.”

Arizona also sees considerable sales tax revenue from people who pass through ports of entry to shop, not only in the border communities but the Tucson and Phoenix areas as well.

“A vibrant business relationship with Mexico is key to the growth of Arizona’s economy,” said Sandra Watson, president and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “Our region shares many assets and strengths in areas such as advanced manufacturing, aerospace, optics, agriculture and much more. Continuing to link resources and leverage assets such as infrastructure and transportation will diversify our economy and enhance our region’s overall competitive position.”

ADOT, the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Arizona Office of Tourism promote trade and quality infrastructure as members of the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance (azttca.org). The group, which also includes community leaders in transportation and international trade, was created in 2012 to help boost economic development and create jobs.

Fire managers postpone prescribed fires on Kaibab Plateau

FREDONIA — Effective immediately, North Zone fire managers have postponed this week’s plans to conduct both the Bridge Unit and Moquitch 4 prescribed fires due to predicted high winds on the Kaibab Plateau.

High wind activity could potentially cause implementation efforts to exceed acceptable parameters for the hazardous fuels reduction prescription. Therefore, fire managers will commence plans to test burn on both units once predicted weather, wind speed, and air quality conditions align favorably with prescription constraints.

Current future information on current Kaibab National Forest both upcoming prescribed burn notifications and wildfires will be provided through the following methods:

Fire Information Recorded Hotline: 928-635-8311

Overnight lane restrictions tomorrow on I-17 north of Camp Verde

Overnight lane restrictions in place Wednesday north of Camp Verde as crews complete work as part of the Verde River Bridge project.

  • Northbound Interstate 17 narrowed to one lane between mileposts 287 and 288 from7 p.m. Wednesday (May 25) to 5 a.m. Thursday (May 26). Please allow extra travel time and be prepared for slowing traffic approaching the work zone.

*A 12-foot width restriction will remain in place. Vehicles more than 12-feet wide should use State Route 260 west to State Route 89A, then north to Sedona, and south on State Route 179 to return to I-17.

ADOT works to inform the public about planned highway restrictions, but there is a possibility that unscheduled closures or restrictions may occur. Weather can also affect a project schedule.

Prescribed Fire Planned for Tusayan Ranger District Friday and Saturday

TUSAYAN — Due to above normal precipitation and cooler temperatures over the last month, conditions on the Tusayan Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest are within prescriptive levels and are suitable for fire managers to continue treatment of the 8,000-acre Russell Prescribed Fire project southeast of Tusayan.

Crews plan to begin ignitions near the area of Russell Tank and the Arizona Trail beginning Friday and expect to complete a 429-acre unit by the end of the following day. Smoke may be visible from Highways 64 and 180, and from the communities of Valle and Tusayan, but is not expected to impact residential areas.

Fire managers strive to minimize smoke impacts and will only conduct ignitions when conditions exist that will allow smoke to ventilate away from sensitive areas. Smoke is expected to disperse to the northeast during the day. Residual smoke may settle into drainages and low lying areas overnight but will dissipate rapidly throughout the morning hours. The Arizona Trail will remain open during operations, but hikers are advised to use caution and observe signs and directions posted along the trail.

Notifications of upcoming prescribed burns are provided regularly throughout the season. The public can find this information online or through the recorded hotline. Contact your local Kaibab National Forest office for additional information.