‘Tripod’ the three-legged desert tortoise, 50 others ready for adoption

PHOENIX — A brutal round with a dog resulted in an amputated leg, but Tripod the three-legged desert tortoise is ready for a new home.

The surgery was conducted at the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital and since then, Tripod – as he is affectionately known – has recovered at the Arizona Game and Fish Department Wildlife Center, where he and 50 other desert tortoises are in desperate need of a forever home.

“When this tortoise was brought into the veterinary clinic, the damage was so severe that it’s left front leg needed to be immediately amputated,” said Tegan Wolf, AZGFD Tortoise Adoption Program coordinator. “Tripod has since recovered nicely and gets around perfectly fine on three legs.”

While Tripod is between 30 and 50 years old, dozens of other desert tortoises eligible for adoption vary in age and size. Arizona residents interested in providing an adoptive home to a desert tortoise can find an adoption application and packet with general information at www.azgfd.gov/tortoise.

Those applying to adopt a tortoise will be contacted by the department once their application is approved.

Adopters need to have a securely enclosed yard or separate enclosure in their yard, free from potential hazards such as a dog, fire pit or unfenced pool. The enclosed area must include an appropriate shelter for the tortoise to escape Arizona’s extreme summer and winter temperatures.

All of the desert tortoises eligible for adoption are given health exams before going to their new homes.

Desert tortoises offer a unique alternative to more traditional family pets and can teach many of the same life lessons to children, including responsibility, compassion and commitment. Contrary to many assumptions, desert tortoises can be interactive and provide companionship without as many demands as a cat or dog.

Traffic switch next week for Interstate 40 work west of Williams

WILLIAMS – Drivers heading eastbound on Interstate 40 toward Williams and Flagstaff will use one of the westbound lanes for five miles starting Monday, August 7, while Arizona Department of Transportation crews begin rebuilding the eastbound section of highway.

The project, occurring between mileposts 156 and 161, will rebuild the roadway from the ground up, including laying a new foundation. This work will be a long-term fix for the winter-weather damage this stretch has seen through the years.

This past week, crews have been building a temporary road across the median at each end of the project for eastbound drivers which will create one lane in each direction on the westbound side of I-40. The traffic switch will occur early Monday morning and remain in place through the fall.

Motorists traveling in the area should slow down and plan for extra travel time through the project area.

Because of the critical nature of I-40 for truckers and travelers, ADOT worked to get this $34 million project started this summer.

In addition to this project, crews continue to repave 12 miles of I-40 in each direction closer to Flagstaff between mileposts 179 and 191. That $13.9 million project is about halfway complete.

Crews will also be doing minor paving repairs in the morning hours on August 8 and 9 on eastbound I-40 near the I-17 junction approaching the Butler Avenue exit.

For more information on this and other paving projects along I-40, visit azdot.gov.

Volunteers needed for Arizona Antelope Foundation project near Flagstaff

PHOENIX — The Arizona Antelope Foundation is seeking volunteers August 12 for a fence modification project in the Spring Valley-Government Prairie area about 17 miles west of Flagstaff and 11 miles north of Interstate 40.

The project activity includes removing fencing around a wildlife water and modifying fencing to pronghorn-friendly standards in various locations. The project will improve an existing pronghorn movement corridor from their summer range on Government Prairie to winter habitat in the Ida and Babbitt grasslands to the north.

The project begins at 8 a.m. August 12. The organization will provide dinner for all volunteers August 11-12 and continental breakfasts August 12-13. Volunteers are asked to provide their own lunch to eat in the field August 12. Volunteers also should bring work gloves, snacks, water, personal gear and an orange safety vest (otherwise, one will be provided).

Sign up by August 8 by e-mailing info@azantelope.org. For more information, contact Glen Dickens at (520) 247-4907. For a printer-friendly map to the campsite, visit www.azantelope.org.

ADOT-sponsored Construction Academy provides gateway to careers

PHOENIX – Thirty-one individuals seeking a hand up obtained entry-level positions as flaggers on construction projects, paying $13 to $19 per hour, thanks to free training provided by the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Those who took part in the flagger-certification program held this summer are the latest cohort in the Construction Academy Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program offered by ADOT’s On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services Program, part of the agency’s Business Engagement and Compliance Office.

Many of the recent trainees starting off as flaggers will move on to construction apprenticeships and later reach journeyman status as ADOT provides continuing support and guidance.

Flagger certification is just one of the training opportunities available to women, minorities and members of economically disadvantaged groups, including those who are out of work, through ADOT programs funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Individuals also can receive training that will help them become concrete finishers, block masons, highway surveyors, heavy equipment operators and commercial drivers.

ADOT’s goal in sponsoring this training: removing barriers to beginning construction careers.

ADOT-sponsored Construction Academies also are offered through Gila Community College, Gateway Community College and, starting this fall, Pima Community College and Pima County Joint Technology Education School District.

ADOT covers training costs and fees for participants and provides support including transportation and child care assistance, job-readiness training and safety gear such as hard hats and protective eyewear.

This past spring, for example, all 18 Construction Academy participants at Gila Community College landed jobs. They completed a 16-week program that included highway flagger certification, training in carpentry and job-seeking strategies, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration instruction on job-related safety and health hazards.

Participants in Pima Community College’s first Construction Academy will receive 10 weeks of similar training, while 30 students in the Pima County JTED Construction Academy’s construction and heavy equipment program will receive training that includes flagger certification.

Meanwhile, a Commercial Driver License Construction Academy that ADOT offers in Phoenix and Tucson helps participants obtain Class A commercial driver licenses to land trucking jobs in the construction industry. The ADOT Business and Compliance Office Construction Project Management Academy, launching this fall, will provide training for participants in the On-The-Job-Training Supportive Services Program as well as to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.

For more information or to apply for a Construction Academy, please visit azdot.gov/BECO, call 602.712.7761 or pick up materials at the ADOT Business Engagement and Compliance Office, 1801 W. Jefferson St., Suite 101, in Phoenix.

Public comment sought on draft recreational boating compatibility determination for Havasu National Wildlife Refuge

LAKE HAVASU CITY — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft recreational boating Compatibility Determination (CD) for the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge System that is available for public review and comment.

The process began in 2015, and a previous draft CD was released in April 2016 and withdrawn after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided more deliberation was required. A copy of the revised draft CD is available online at: www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/HavasuBoatingCD-Draft-July_2017.pdf

The public comment and review period is open for 30 days: August 1-30, 2017. To be part of the record, comments must be submitted in writing and be received on, or postmarked by, August 30, 2017.

Send written comments to:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
Attn: Draft Recreational Boating CD Comments
317 Mesquite Avenue
Needles, CA 92363

Comments also may be emailed to: havasu_comments@fws.gov

A public Listening Session is scheduled for Aug. 17, 2017. Details of that meeting will be posted at www.fws.gov/refuge/havasu/ once they are available.

“Public participation in this process is important to ensure future recreational activities on the Refuge offer quality experiences for all visitors while meeting the purpose of the Refuge,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, frequently asked questions, maps and other information will be posted soon at: www.fws.gov/refuge/havasu/

Arizona Big Game Super Raffle nets record $673,600 for wildlife

PHOENIX – Winners of the 12th annual Arizona Big Game Super Raffle were announced Thursday night at Arizona Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix.

The prizes included a total of 10 Special Big Game Tags, one for each of the state’s big game species – bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, bison, turkey, bear, javelina and mountain lion. The permit-tags were awarded by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. Raffle tickets ranged from $5 to $25, depending on the species. A New Mexico elk hunt and Swarovski optics package also were raffled.

In the 12-year history of the raffle, more than $6.1 million has been raised for wildlife and wildlife management in Arizona. This year’s event generated a record $673,600, topping $633,750 in 2016.

The 2017 winners:

  • Bighorn sheep: John Donovan, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Black bear: Peter Migale, Novato, Calif.
  • Bison: Larry Lunsford, Carlsbad, N.M.
  • Elk: Martin Lindstrand, Damascus, Ore.
  • Javelina: Norman Unruh, Saragosa, Texas.
  • Mountain lion: Stephen Todd, Chandler, Ariz.
  • Mule deer: Roy Crouch, Artesia, N.M.
  • Pronghorn: Robert Sherer, Great Falls, Mont.
  • Turkey: Kent McClelland, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • White-tailed deer: Ryan Jackson, Kingsburg, Calif.
  • New Mexico elk hunt: David Knox, Lakeside, Ariz.
  • Swarovski optics package: Brett Zeis, Langdon, N.D.

The raffle is conducted by a nonprofit entity to raise money for wildlife conservation efforts. A volunteer board of directors, comprised of representatives from sponsoring organizations, oversees the operation of the raffle.

Every dollar raised for each species through the raffle is returned to the department and managed by the Arizona Habitat Partnership Committee (AHPC) for that particular species. With input from local habitat partners across the state and sponsoring organizations involved in the fundraising, project priorities are determined that will provide the most benefit to each species.