ADOT’s blue logo signs benefit businesses and highways

PHOENIX ‒ Thanks to some creative thinking several years ago at the Arizona Department of Transportation, those blue logo signs along state highways are doing much more than helping you find a restaurant, gas station or hotel. They’re helping fund highway improvements while offering businesses a cost-effective way to promote themselves.

While many states use contractors to manage logo signs, Arizona is among those with their own programs. Operated since 2012 through Arizona Highways magazine, which is part of ADOT, Grand Canyon State Logo Signs has to date netted about $5 million for the State Highway Fund.

“We have approached this as a business without losing the community service aspect that is part of serving in a public agency,” said Bob Allen, chief financial officer of the Grand Canyon State Logo Signs program.

This fiscal year, the State Highway Fund may receive as much as $2.5 million from logo signs.

Advertising rates, based on average daily traffic counts, are posted to In areas where demand exceeds the six available spaces on a sign, businesses are invited to bid for placements. After the bidding, bid amounts are posted to let future bidders know what to expect.

The program has been a hit. For example, just three companies bid for space on one Phoenix area sign in 2013. In 2016, 11 companies made bids. In 2017, there were 22. The total amount bid for the sign grew from $12,400 to $92,770 in just four years.

“Dollar for dollar, the blue freeway sign program is one of the most-affordable programs there is in the market,” said Jason Kveton, who operates Culver’s franchises in the Phoenix area. “I don’t think there will ever be a year we do not try to stay on the sign.”

And once businesses sign up, they stay. The program’s retention rate is 95 percent.

Bob Borenstein of Chompie’s Deli and Bakery said he likes having his company’s name on the signs and also likes that proceeds go to the State Highway Fund.

“It’s great to know that the money we’re spending is actually going to the construction of new roads or upkeep of these roads,” Borenstein said.

County Parks and Recreation Receives Natural Resource Award

FLAGSTAFF – Coconino County Parks and Recreation (CCPR) received the Natural Resource Award from Arizona Parks and Recreation Association for Rogers Lake Recreation improvements. Since 2011, CCPR has been incorporating recreation improvements at Rogers Lake County Natural Area while celebrating sustainability with residents and visitors.

Enhancements to the natural area were intended to engage the visitors and designed sustainably by using repurposed materials. The award acknowledges the hard work, ingenuity and dedication that CCPR staff has made.

“I’m proud of our Parks and Recreation team for the work that they do and congratulate them on their award and recognition from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association,” said Chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors, Liz Archuleta. “Striving for a healthy, close-knit community, while taking steps to improve the environment is something that we take great pride in at Coconino County.”

The awarded sustainable features completed by CCPR staff in the natural area in 2016 and 2017 include:

  • A watchable wildlife viewing platform that overlooks the lake.
  • A 6-mile trail system and two trailheads with parking at the county natural area.

Other environmentally friendly improvements CCPR has made to the natural area include:

  • A ramada structure built from recycled lumber that diverts rainwater to a water feeder for birds, bats and small mammals.
  • Two trailheads and parking lots made from milled asphalt that came from a Highway 89A alignment project near Fort Tuthill County Park.
  • Trail surface made from repurposed, engineered crushed stone originating from a renovation project from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.

Please visit the improved county natural area for some watchable wildlife opportunities during the fall season.

AZGFD closes Frye Creek to fishing

PHOENIX – Fishing trips to scenic Frye Creek, a Gila trout recovery stream located on Mt. Graham in southeast Arizona that offers rare opportunities to hook Gila trout—one of two trout native to Arizona—will have to be put on hold.

AZGF Photo

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has temporarily closed Frye Creek to fishing in order to evaluate and restore a population of Gila trout following widespread habitat damage on Mt. Graham due to this past summer’s Frye Fire and ensuing flooding.

The Department hopes to reopen the stream to fishing once habitat is suitable for stocking of Gila trout and a population is established that can sustain angling pressure.

Good news for anglers: the closure does not include Frye Mesa Reservoir, where Gila trout are stocked for recreational opportunities. However, the area is still under a closure order issued by the Coronado National Forest.

In June, the 48,000-acre Frye Fire severely impacted the habitat in Frye Creek and nearby Ash Creek, and both populations of Gila trout, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were effected by post-fire flood events that moved large amounts of ash, sediment and debris through the creeks.

Fortunately, just prior to the flooding, AZGFD salvaged 190 Gila trout from Frye and Ash creeks and they were transported in good health to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico.

Recently, AZGFD surveyed the creeks and did not find any fish. AZGFD will continue to monitor both streams annually to document habitat changes and recovery.

Also, see the Mt. Graham closure update from the Coronado National Forest.

Williams and Tusayan Ranger Districts announce seasonal prescribed fire plans

Fire managers on the south zone of the Kaibab National Forest have completed plans for the 2017 fall and 2018 spring prescribed fire burning seasons and expect to begin working in several project areas by the end of this month. The specific units to be ignited will be chosen based on fuel moistures and weather conditions that are within prescriptive levels that meet fuels reduction objectives.

The flowing project areas are planned for treatments:

Green Base Dry Lake Project: Thirteen burn units northeast of Williams, north of I-40 and east of Highway 64 near Pittman Valley. This project is a total of 5,990 acres.

Green Base Hardy Project: Five burn units also northeast of Williams, north of I-40 and east of Highway 64 near Pittman Valley. This project is a total of 3,846 acres.

Sunflower Project: Seven burn units south of Williams, between County Road 73 and Whitehorse Lake. This project is a total of 15,195 acres.

Reed Project: Three burn units 5 miles east of Tusayan and just south of the Grand Canyon National Park. This project size is 1,182 acres.

Fire plays a beneficial role in maintaining the ecological stability of many landscapes including the Kaibab National Forest. Managers use prescribed fire as a practical means to reduce risks associated with uncharacteristic wildfires that can pose significant threats to public health and safety.

Officials understand that impacts to air quality may be unpleasant at times, however they can significantly reduce the amount and limit the duration of smoke more effectively using prescribed methods as opposed to an uncontrolled wildfire situation. Fire managers will continue to be mindful of wind direction and ventilation and will take a proactive approach to minimize smoke impacts to businesses and residences whenever possible.

During operations, fire personnel and vehicles working in the vicinity of the burns will be visible to the public. Motorists are reminded to slow down and drive with heightened caution when passing through active project areas.

All prescribed burning on the Kaibab National Forest is subject to approval by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

For additional information on the Smoke Management Division of the ADEQ and to view prescribed burns authorizations, please visit Additional fire information for Kaibab National Forest can be obtained through the following sources: InciWeb Kaibab National Forest Fire Information Phone Line (928) 635-8311; Text Message – text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404.

AZGFD study clarifies Mexican wolf historical range

PHOENIX — A recent peer-reviewed scientific paper reaffirmed the historical range of the endangered Mexican wolf as being southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico.

The paper was the featured article published in the July issue of The Journal of Wildlife Management, a leading international wildlife science journal. The authors – each reputable experts in their respective fields – included a skull morphologist, internationally known geneticist and an Arizona Game and Fish Department biologist.

In the peer-reviewed paper, they use ecological, physiographic and morphological data to clarify the Mexican wolf’s historical range.

“Most sources prior to the mid-1990s were in agreement and defined the historical range of the Mexican wolf as southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and portions of Mexico,” the paper states. “Of this historical range, 10 percent occurs in the United States and the remainder in Mexico.”

Historical data shows other subspecies of wolves roamed the Southwest, but each differed from the smaller, distinctive Mexican wolf, which was found in southern Arizona and New Mexico and southward deep into Mexico. The data also illustrate that Mexico is critical for wolf recovery, given that 90 percent of the animal’s historical range and extensive high-quality habitat is found south of the border.

To aid Mexican wolf recovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service included a 200-mile buffer north of the animal’s core historical range. The boundary was included in the 1996 federal environmental impact statement, which expanded the range into central Arizona and New Mexico.

Extending the historical range boundary northward would place Mexican wolves north of historical transitions in wolf body size, breaks in vegetation associations, barriers to gene flow and substantial differences in prey base, which help form and identify subspecies differences, the paper states.

“Rather it should respect original descriptions that were made when the animal was still present on the landscape…Clarifying the historical range of the Mexican wolf accurately will be foundational to developing a scientifically defensible recovery plan,” the paper states

Additionally, introducing Mexican wolves too far north of their historical range runs the risk of “genetic swamping” by the larger Northern Rockies wolves, said AZGFD biologist Jim Heffelfinger, who co-authored the paper.

“Allowing establishment of Mexican wolves north of their historical range before they are recovered could lead to genetic swamping and the potential destruction of the uniqueness for which the Mexican wolf was listed,” he said. “That would undo decades of efforts to return ‘El Lobo’ to the Southwest.”

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department have been at the forefront of Mexican wolf recovery for more than 30 years.

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

This represents a more than doubling of the population since 2009.

Nominations open for 2018 Coconino County Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year

FLAGSTAFF – The sixth annual Coconino County 2018 Teacher of the Year and first annual Rookie Teacher of the Year Award nominations are now open. These awards recognize the contributions of state-accredited, full-time teachers from pre-kindergarten – 12th grade in Coconino County.

The Teacher of the Year awards recognize three exceptionally skilled and dedicated teachers, and rookie teachers, who have gained respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues. These teachers inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn and are passionate about education.

Teachers must be nominated or self-nominated to be considered for either award. If nominated, teachers submit a detailed essay application with letters of support. The top six candidates for each award will then be interviewed. The Teacher of the Year, Rookie Teacher of the year, as well as two ambassadors for excellence and two Rookie Ambassadors for Excellence will be selected by a panel of judges.

All finalists will be recognized at the awards event in the spring and will receive cash prizes. The Teacher of the Year will receive an automatic nomination for the Arizona Teacher of the Year Award and various other prizes. The event is made possible through sponsorships by businesses and community members.

Superintendent Risha VanderWey invites the public to nominate any outstanding teachers in Coconino County. Nomination forms can be found on the Superintendent’s website at Nominations must be received by Nov. 6 at 5 p.m.

For more information contact the School Superintendent’s Office at 928-679-8070.

Paving on Interstate 40 westbound ramps at A-1 Mountain traffic this Wednesday and Friday

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Department of Transportation is scheduled to pave at the westbound ramps at A-1 Mountain traffic interchange as part of the improvement project on Interstate 40 from Parks to Riordan.

ADOT advises drivers to allow extra travel time while work occurs on the westbound ramps at A-1 Mountain traffic interchange (Exit 190) as follows:

· Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.
· Friday, Sept. 29, from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Motorists can use the interchanges at Bellemont (milepost 185) and Flagstaff Ranch Road (milepost 192) for alternative travel. Signs will be in place to assist with detour routes in the area.

For more information about this project, visit

Drivers should use caution and watch for construction personnel and equipment.

2017 Sustainable Building and Water Conservation Tour

FLAGSTAFF – The Coconino County Sustainable Building Program is hosting the annual Sustainable Building and Water Conservation Tour in partnership with the City of Flagstaff Sustainability and Water Conservation Programs, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and the Coconino Plateau Watershed Partnership. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 30 starting at the Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, 703 E. Sawmill Rd. Flagstaff.

The tour will offer perspectives from homeowners, builders, and installers about costs, processes, and the economic and environmental benefits of building sustainably. This tour is a part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science and the American Solar Energy Society’s National Tour.

Six of the buildings included on the tour will demonstrate water conservation methods such as rainwater harvesting for irrigation and potable use, greywater reuse, low-flow fixtures and xeriscaping. A tour of a tiny house on wheels will also be on-site.

The self-guided tour is free, with a suggested donation of $5 to support Willow Bend’s environmental education programs in local schools. Tour packets will be available at Willow Bend the day of the tour.

The tour is made possible through the following partners’ contributions: AP Sawmill & Lumber Products, Coconino Community College, Ezra Builders, Flagstaff Skylights, Loven Contracting, PWMA, Solar Design and Construction, and SolarTerra Design.

For more information visit or contact (928) 679-8882.

Work at Interstate 40 and Bellemont traffic interchange continues this week

BELLEMONT – The Arizona Department of Transportation is scheduled to continue paving at the Bellemont traffic interchange next week as part of the improvement project on Interstate 40 from Parks to Riordan.

ADOT advises drivers to allow extra travel time while work occurs on the eastbound ramps (Exit 185) as follows:

· Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
· Thursday, Sept. 28, from noon to 6 p.m.
· Friday, Sept. 29, from 4:30 a.m. to noon.

Motorists can use the interchanges at Parks (milepost 178) and A-1 Mountain (milepost 190) to travel between eastbound I-40 and Bellemont. Signs will mark the detour routes. The Bellemont bridge over I-40 will remain open at all times, and no restrictions are scheduled on the westbound I-40 ramps.

For more information about this project, visit

Drivers should use caution and watch for construction personnel and equipment.

Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other unforeseen factors. For more information, please call Coralie Cole, ADOT community relations project manager, at 602.501.4899 or For real-time highway conditions statewide, visit the ADOT Traveler Information site at, follow ADOT on Twitter (@ArizonaDOT) or call 511, except while driving.