Text-donation campaign asks public to ‘Be a Hero for Wildlife’

The Arizona Game and Fish Department took in this four-week-old otter that was found last week abandoned at the bottom of a drying Valley canal. It’s just one of the animals that AZGFD regularly works to rehabilitate. Those wanting to help fund the care it and other animals at that AZGFD Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center receive can text “CRITTER” to 41444.

PHOENIX — A three-week-old bobcat kitten snatched from the wild.

An abandoned baby otter found hungry and dehydrated in an East Valley canal. A malnourished, sickly “kidnapped” deer fawn. It’s not another day at the local zoo. It’s a typical day at the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, where wildlife experts work daily to rehabilitate and save some of the state’s 800-plus native wildlife species. It’s often a thankful, albeit costly, job.

To help defray rising costs of caring for Arizona’s wildlife, AZGFD recently began its “Be a Hero for Wildlife” donation campaign to give the public an opportunity to support its efforts to treat sick, injured, orphaned and confiscated wildlife by texting CRITTER to 41444 from any smartphone.

“All this dedication and care comes at a great cost,” said Mike Demlong, who manages AZGFD’s Wildlife Center and Wildlife Education programs. “Many of the animals that come to us require extensive medical treatments, X-rays, monitoring and specialized care, and those expenses are considerable. It’s rewarding work, especially when it comes to helping some of our younger more vulnerable wildlife.”

On Friday, April 14, it was a three-week-old bobcat kitten turned in by a member of the public, who intended to raise it as pet. The individual ultimately turned it over at the urging of a family member, who saw a Valley TV news story earlier that evening of a deer fawn that was kidnapped from the wild and being raised as a pet.

In both cases, each of the animals required extensive care, attention and resources just to keep them alive. The malnourished deer fawn alone continues to require a specialized diet, vitamin supplements and injections, and daily monitoring to make it healthy enough to eventually live out its days in a zoo.

Nearly one month later, the department has spent about $4,500 and counting to rehabilitate the kidnapped deer fawn. A six-day stay for the bobcat kitten cost the department $3,000.

“Unfortunately, the department does not receive state general fund dollars. That’s what makes donations that much more important,” Demlong said.

Funding raised through the “Be a hero for Wildlife” text-campaign will be used to care for the sick, injured, orphaned and confiscated animals housed at the Wildlife Center, in addition to the many animal ambassadors – such as a great-horned owl, golden eagle, desert tortoises and prairie dogs – that are used in educational outreach statewide.

In addition to donations, the public can also help keep wildlife wild by leaving baby wildlife alone. Young wildlife is rarely abandoned so there is often little reason to “rescue it.” One or both of its parents is likely nearby searching for food and will return.

Baby birds are the most common wildlife species encountered removed from the wild by the public. Young birds that have fallen from the nest can be placed back in the nest or as close as possible. Baby birds that are partially flighted should be left alone or moved nearby out of harm’s way.

Those with questions about a specific situation should contact one of the wildlife rehabilitators listed on the department’s website at: www.azgfd.com/wildlife/urbanrehab/ or contact your local Game and Fish office.

AZGFD considers potential impacts of appellate court ruling on Mexican wolf

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is assessing potential impacts to Arizona’s endangered and threatened wildlife recovery program, following a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that lifts a preliminary injunction on releasing Mexican wolves in New Mexico.

The court decision issued Tuesday held that the State of New Mexico had not met the legal standard for a preliminary injunction because it did not demonstrate that releasing Mexican wolves without state permits will cause irreparable injury to the state. The ruling reverses a U.S. District Court decision last summer that prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from importing or releasing any Mexican wolves in New Mexico without first obtaining permits from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department.

“The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department are evaluating the potential ramifications of the Appellate Court’s decision for Arizona’s wolf recovery program,” said Jim deVos, AZGFD assistant director for Wildlife Management. “Our agency remains committed to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and our other partners to ensure Arizona has a voice in providing direction for the program, based on sound science and boots-on-the-ground research.”

The case now returns to U.S. District Court for a decision on whether New Mexico can require the USFWS to obtain state permits before releasing wolves.

There were a minimum of 113 wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico in 2016, according to a recent survey by the Mexican Wolf Interagency Field Team. The survey found that there were 63 wolves in Arizona and 50 in New Mexico.

In 2015, there were an estimated 97 wolves were counted in the wild between both states.

ADOT moves forward with project replacing pavement on 12 miles of I-40

FLAGSTAFF – With a contractor selected, the Arizona Department of Transportation is moving forward with a $13.9 million project to add new pavement to 12 miles of Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Williams.

Meeting in Flagstaff on Friday, April 21, the State Transportation Board approved a contract for the project with FNF Construction. A schedule will be set in the coming weeks.

The work in both directions between Parks and Riordan, milepost 179 to 191, will mill down several inches of the current pavement and replace it with new asphalt. It will greatly improve a road surface that has required regular repairs due to the combination of more than 200 freeze-thaw cycles each year and heavy use by commercial vehicles, as well as damage from numerous storms this past winter.

“We’re grateful this much needed project is moving forward,” said Audra Merrick, ADOT’s North Central District engineer. “This project will be the long-term fix to the damage the road has taken over the winter.”

The project also will replace pavement on the on- and off-ramps at the Bellemont interchange, replace guardrail and make minor bridge deck repairs at the Bellemont and A-1 Mountain Road overpasses.

A similar project, slated for the fiscal year beginning July 1, will pick up where this project ends at milepost 179, and continue west for 17 miles to Cataract Lake near Williams.

After pavement damage from powerful and repeated winter storms, ADOT crews continue following up on temporary repairs with asphalt overlays on I-17, State Route 89A in Oak Creek Canyon and other parts of I-40.

Maintenance work begins on Forest Road 302 on Tusayan Ranger District

TUSAYAN –A contractor working for the Kaibab National Forest began a road maintenance project this week on Forest Road 302 on the Tusayan Ranger District in order to ensure the popular route continues to meet Forest Service road standards.

The contractor is using heavy equipment to haul gravel from Dillman Pit, located about 9 miles southeast of the project location, to FR 302 where it is then being spread across the roadway to improve surface conditions. The section of FR 302 receiving this maintenance work begins at the intersection of Highway 64 south of Tusayan and continues about 5.4 miles to the intersection of FR 688.Forest Service road engineers expect the road maintenance work to continue for about five weeks and likely be complete by the end of May. While the road will not be closed during the project, motorists can expect delays and should exercise caution while traveling through the area due to varying road conditions and the presence of heavy equipment.

FR 302 is used frequently by Kaibab National Forest visitors to access camping, hunting and other recreational opportunities. Forest managers recommend using FR 688 as an alternate route during the duration of the FR 302 maintenance project in order to bypass delays and dusty conditions. Forest visitors seeking a spot for dispersed camping are also encouraged to consider other routes on the Tusayan Ranger District given the likelihood of dust and noise near the project area.

Forest Service engineers regularly evaluate and monitor road conditions across the forest to determine priorities for work. FR 302 has been in need of maintenance for some time, and forest managers expect visitors to have an improved experience once the current project is complete.

To contact the Tusayan Ranger District office, call (928) 638-2443. Additional Kaibab National Forest is available through the following sources:

  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/KaibabNF/
  • Twitter: www.twitter.com/kaibabnf (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
  • Kaibab website “News & Events”: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab

Paper applications for 2017 fall hunts now being accepted

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted the 2017-18 Arizona Hunting Regulations online at www.azgfd.gov/draw.

The department now is accepting paper applications for 2017 hunt permit-tags issued through the draw process for deer, fall turkey, fall javelina, bighorn sheep, fall bison and pheasant. The online application service for the draw is expected to be available in early to mid-May.

Paper applications can be mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Drawing Section, P.O. Box 74020, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1052, or dropped off at any department office statewide. The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. (Arizona time) Tuesday, June 13. Paper applications must be received by the department by the deadline. Postmarks do not count.

The printed 2017-18 Arizona Hunting Regulations booklets are expected to be available in the next week or two at department offices and license dealers (PDF) statewide.

In the meantime, hunters are encouraged to open a free AZGFD customer portal account. The portal allows customers to create a secure account where they can manage and view their contact information, as well as their license and draw results history and bonus points, in their personal “My AZ Outdoors” section. A portal account is a mobile-friendly, convenient way to access the online license purchase and hunt draw application systems.

Another benefit of having a portal account is the opportunity to sign up for the “I Support Wildlife” program, which helps fund wildlife conservation in Arizona. An annual membership for $25 includes access to the new “premium” version of the Recreational Access Arizona (RAA) online mapping application, the latest fish stocking reports, an “I Support Wildlife” window decal and a one-year subscription to the award-winning Arizona Wildlife Views magazine.

The premium RAA mapping application is a significant upgrade over the free version and is a tremendous tool when planning your hunt. It is designed to work on all mobile devices (with active cell service) and lets you see your current location in reference to different data layers, including Game Management Units, wildlife waters, Arizona land ownership, an ESRI USA Topographic (USGS 24k Topo) basemap and more. Even better, the premium mapping application allows you to create your own point locations and automatically save and sync that data to all of your devices.

For questions about opening a portal account, call the department at (602) 942-3000 and press “7.”

Homes for fish: habitat improvement project underway at Roosevelt Lake

PHOENIX – They are manmade homes for fish, some made of concrete, others of PVC, and like building a neighborhood, provide the architecture for sustainable life.

The first step in placing fish habitat into the central Arizona reservoirs took place on Thursday, April 20 at Roosevelt Lake with Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists dropping Fishiding HighRise structures made of environmentally-safe PVC to the bottom of Roosevelt Lake. These recycled items, 8 feet tall and excellent habitat for crappie, became the first fish homes. AZGFD plans to expand them into fish cities.

For anglers, this Tonto National Forest Lakes Habitat Improvement Project will result in better fishing for generations to come in the region’s most popular fishing lakes.

Also in April, Roosevelt Lake was stocked with 12,000 pounds of crappie fingerlings, as well as 25,000 pounds of 4-inch Florida-strain largemouth bass for the third consecutive year. Roosevelt Lake also is above 70-percent full for the first time since October of 2011. The higher water level has flooded shoreline brush that provides more cover and habitat for spawning fish. The fish habitat improvement project includes placing multiple types of fish habitat around the lake at varied depths to ensure there is plenty of fish habitat available for when water level fluctuates.

Similar work is planned for other lakes along the Salt River chain and Bartlett Lake. The next planned step involves AZGFD biologists using a 36-foot pontoon boat to transport and lower heavier concrete fish habitat structures — critical to anglers’ fishing opportunities — into Roosevelt Lake.

This fish habitat project is a cooperative effort with numerous anglers, as well as volunteers from organizations such as Gila Basin Angler Roundtable and Midweek Bass Anglers. Supporting agency partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program, Tonto National Forest, and the National Fish Habitat Partnership-Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership. Volunteers have been helping build concrete fish balls and Georgia cubes for two years and have donated hundreds of hours to the project.

Natural and artificial habitat are critical for fish spawning, recruitment, and growth. The reservoirs of central Arizona lack sufficient hiding and ambush cover and habitat for growth and survival of young fish. The artificial structures provide a surface for microscopic animals to grow, which attracts bait fish and in turn the predatory fish for anglers to target.

Fishing is one of Arizona’s most popular outdoor activities. Providing good places for anglers to fish is one of AZGFD’s primary goals. Five of the biggest and most popular lakes to fish are located in central Arizona and are managed by Salt River Project for the valley’s water supply: Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Bartlett Lake.

In 2014 the Department embarked on a program to improve fisheries habitat in the reservoirs of central Arizona and restore the fisheries to their former glory days. All five of these lakes are more than 70 years old, and Roosevelt Lake is more than 100 years old. Over time, reservoirs lose quality fish habitat through decomposition of the natural vegetation that was flooded, particularly where water levels fluctuate wildly, such as at Roosevelt.

Similarly, one of the largest and most successful fish habitat projects in the nation, the Lake Havasu Fishery Improvement Program, has been ongoing since 1993 and is credited with improving sport fish habitat in this Colorado River reservoir.

The Tonto National Forest is the land management agency for five of the biggest and busiest fishing lakes in Arizona. In 2013, the economic value to the state of Arizona associated with these five lakes was estimated to be more than $318 million.

AZGF Commission approves proposed boating and water sport rules, fees

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently approved several boating and watercraft regulation changes aimed at increasing customer service and public safety on Arizona’s waterways.

The commission approved the changes at its April 7 meeting, amending the state’s Article 5 rules, which outline boating and water sports regulations and fees. The proposed changes will now be considered by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council on June 6 and, if approved, will become effective Aug. 5.

The proposed changes were recommended as part of a legally required five-year review of the department’s administrative rules. For more information or to view the complete list of proposed Article 5 changes, visit www.azgfd.com/agency and click on “Rulemaking.”

The following are among the proposed changes:

Requiring a signature be notarized/witnessed when the seller is not listed as the owner on the current registration or the signature of the buyer or seller is in question.
Allowing owners to obtain a duplicate watercraft registration/decal at www.azgfd.gov/boating.
Increasing the valid timeframe for a temporary certificate from 30 to 45 days and allowing a watercraft agent to issue a temporary certificate with the sale of a used watercraft.
Requiring liveries to affix a placard on the watercraft indicating the business name and phone number, and requiring a person who rents, leases or offers a watercraft for hire to register as a livery.
Requiring a wake surfer to wear a personal floatation device and that an operator ensure an observer is watching if a person is being towed behind the watercraft and/or surfing a wake created by the watercraft.
Prohibiting teak surfing, which is pulling a person from a vessel’s swim platform.
Requiring towing companies to notify the owner/lienholder that they have taken possession of a vessel within 15 days of obtaining the information from the department.
Authorizing a third-party vendor to process new watercraft registrations, transfers, renewals and duplicate registrations.

The following fee changes are also proposed:

Watercraft transfer fee to $13
Duplicate decal and certificate number fee to $8
Dealer certificate of number fee to $20
Establish an abandoned/unreleased watercraft application fee of $100
Transfer of ownership of a towed watercraft application fee to $100

For more information on boating in Arizona or to sign up for a safety course, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.

Six public meetings planned in May to present I-11 corridor alternatives

As the Interstate 11 environmental study progresses and new proposed corridor alternatives have taken shape, the Arizona Department of Transportation is once again looking to the public and agencies to get involved and comment on the work that’s been done over the past year.

Six public meetings have been scheduled in May as part of ADOT’s commitment to study and get input on a 280-mile-long corridor stretching from Nogales to Wickenburg.

During the first year of this three-year study that began in March 2016, ADOT evaluated a wide range of alternatives ‒ or possible routes ‒ in order to narrow the choices to the recommended range of reasonable alternatives to be evaluated further in the Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. These alternative corridor options will be available for review and comment at the public meetings and during a 30-day public comment period.

The final set of corridor options, which will be determined after the public comment period, will be subject to further analysis as part of the Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. A no-build option will also be evaluated.

I-11 is envisioned as a multimodal corridor connecting Arizona with regional and international markets while opening up new opportunities for mobility, trade, commerce, job growth and economic competitiveness. While the planning phase for this high-priority corridor is well underway, funding for further studies, design and construction has yet to be identified.

“As we look to invest and prioritize needs to improve Arizona’s transportation infrastructure, we must begin with planning for the future and how to better connect people, communities and markets,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Our global competitiveness and high-paying jobs depend directly on our ability to move people, products and services quickly and efficiently throughout our state and beyond its borders. That’s why Interstate 11 is being considered as a critical component in Arizona’s freight and travel network.”

The alternative corridor options that will be presented for review were developed from several factors: input from last year’s public and agency scoping period, technical analysis, findings from previous studies, and public comment through emails, calls, mail and the study website.

The public comment period will begin on April 28. That’s when the latest study and meeting materials will be posted to the Interstate 11 website at i11study.com and an online mapping and comment tool will be activated. The comment period runs through June 2. The schedule for the six public meetings is here:

Tuesday, May 2

Arizona Riverpark Inn

777 W. Cushing St.


Wednesday, May 3

Marana Middle School – cafeteria

11285 W. Grier Rd.


Thursday, May 4

Nogales High School – cafeteria

1905 N. Apache Blvd.


Wednesday, May 10

Dorothy Powell Senior Adult Center – dining room

405 E. Sixth St.

Casa Grande

Thursday, May 11

Wickenburg Community Center

160 N. Valentine St.


Tuesday, May 16

Buckeye Community Center – multipurpose room

201 E. Centre Ave.


All meetings, which will have an open house format, run from 5 to 7 p.m., with presentations beginning at approximately 5:15 p.m. Following the presentations, study team members will be available to answer questions. The same information will be presented at each meeting.

The recommended I-11 corridor would likely follow US 93 from the Hoover Dam bypass bridge south to Wickenburg. The 280-mile corridor that is the focus of the current environmental study begins in Wickenburg and runs west of the Phoenix metropolitan area, south to the Tucson area and then to Nogales.

ADOT is currently developing an Alternatives Selection Report to assess the corridor alternatives and options, along with opportunities and constraints. A Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement will evaluate in greater detail a reasonable range of corridor alternatives, including segments that could advance to design or construction as independent improvements or projects. There will be a no-build alterative as well. The Final Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement, which would include a preferred corridor alternative or the no-build option, and the Record of Decision are expected in 2019.

Throughout the course of the study, the public, communities and other stakeholders will always have the opportunity to comment and help shape the proposed I-11 corridor. All comments are entered into the project record. Comments can be sent to:

Interstate 11 Tier 1 EIS Study Team

c/o ADOT Communications

1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F

Phoenix, AZ 85007

Arizona Cardinals and Arizona Lottery Street Team to promote Lottery in Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Cardinals team mascot Big Red, Cardinals Cheerleaders and the Arizona Lottery Street Team are taking to the road to visit Arizona cities for the annual “Cardinals Caravan” presented by the Arizona Lottery to engage with Cardinals fans throughout the state.

The caravan will be in Flagstaff on Wednesday, May 3 at the Safeway; 1500 E. Cedar Avenue from 4 to 6 p.m. The caravan group will sign autographs and provide Cardinals giveaways. Arizona Lottery’s Street Team will also be offering a “Spin-to-Win” promotion.

A purchase of $10 worth of Powerball tickets will make you a qualified purchaser and the purchaser will receive an entry to win the grand prize, a co-branded Arizona Cardinals hat and a spin on the prize wheel.

The Grand Prize is two tickets to a 2017 Arizona Cardinals game at University of Phoenix Stadium, two pre-game field passes, two VIP tailgate passes, a one-night stay for two people at a Phoenix area resort hotel; and a $100 gas card.

There is no limit on the number of Powerball draw tickets that may be purchased, but there is a limit of two (2) co-branded items, a limit of five (5) Entry Forms, and a limit of five (5) opportunities to spin the prize wheel per Qualifying Purchaser, regardless of the number of Qualifying Purchases that are made by that Qualifying Purchaser.

You can download a PDF of all official rules.

Kaibab National Forest to offer firewood permits beginning May 1

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest will offer firewood cutting permits for the 2017 firewood season beginning May 1 for all three ranger districts.

The minimum cost for a personal use firewood permit is $20, which is good for four cords of wood. Firewood cutting permits can be purchased at the following locations and during the specified hours Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays:

· Williams Ranger District, 742 S. Clover Road, Williams; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; (928) 635-5600
· Tusayan Ranger District, 176 Lincoln Log Loop, Tusayan; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; (928) 638-2443
· North Kaibab Ranger District, 430 S. Main St., Fredonia; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; (928) 643-7395

The 2017 firewood cutting season will remain open across the entire forest from May 1 to Nov 30. Free-use permits may also be available for specific areas on the forest. Individuals seeking such permits should check with the appropriate ranger district office for availability, locations and other information.

All permits issued will include a map and detailed cutting regulations as well as load tags, which must be physically attached to each ¼ cord of firewood and visible from the rear of the vehicle. The goal of this load tagging system is to ensure accountability for the amount of wood removed from the forest.

The removal of firewood is permitted only from National Forest lands on the district for which the permit is issued. Firewood cutters are reminded to take note of property boundaries and cut only on National Forest lands.

Firewood cutters should also be aware that chainsaws can throw sparks and ignite grasses and brush. Always carry a shovel and a fire extinguisher or water in case of a fire start. Additionally, all chainsaws must be equipped with a stainless steel spark arrestor screen. Cutters should check with forest offices periodically for information about the implementation of fire restrictions.

Detailed firewood cutting information and maps for each ranger district are available on the Kaibab National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/kaibab/fuelwood.