Want to learn outdoors skills?

PHOENIX — Are you a beginner interested in learning more about hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoors activities, but don’t know where to start? Do you have a need to be directly connected with your food source and the experience?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with an extensive network of partnering organizations, offers dozens of events throughout the year to suit almost everyone’s needs through the Outdoor Skills Network. The events are organized based on skill level and interest: introductory, beginner, developing, intermediate and experienced.

You can find a schedule of upcoming events, see a description of the skill levels, and sign up for events online at www.azgfd.gov/outdoorskills. The online registration system is mobile-friendly.

“Keep in mind that the event types and descriptions are merely guidelines to help you choose what is best for you — they are not prerequisites,” said Doug Burt, the department’s hunting and shooting sports program manager. “In the end, we want attendees to have the right expectations and the right experience. That’s the key to keeping folks engaged in hunting and traditional outdoor recreation activities.”

There is no cost to Arizona taxpayers for this program. Game and Fish does not receive any of the state’s general tax funds and operates under a user-pay, public-benefit model. The program is an investment in the continuance of wildlife conservation efforts and outdoors recreation participation in Arizona.

Green light: Go fish!

AZGFD, ADEQ release “Green Light” list of fish, including all trout, Arizonans can eat without restrictions

PHOENIX – Arizona anglers have a ton of “Green Light” reasons to keep catching and cooking fresh fish.

For the first time, the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) have launched an initiative to highlight a “green light” list of fish species from specific waters that may be consumed without limits.

The list includes all trout statewide. Arizona has a total of 220 waters that AZGFD manages for trout, making up approximately 40,000 surface acres of lakes and 1,000 miles of rivers or streams.

These “Green Light Fisheries” also include channel catfish supplied for the AZGFD Community Fishing Program.

See all the green light waters on the ADEQ interactive e-Map, including other waters and fish species classified as “Green Light Fisheries.”

Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop

Current certified operators can earn professional development hours (PDHs) at our upcoming FREE workshop, featuring three training tracks: Operator Training, Public Water System Management Training and ADEQ Drinking Water Rule Review.

Dates
Oct. 17 – 18, 2017

Location
Little America
2515 E Butler Ave.
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Details

Operator Tracks:
ADEQ Rule Review Sessions – Essential for both operators and owners or managers of PWS. Covers important drinking water rules and regulations applicable to all Arizona PWS. ADEQ staff will discuss reporting requirements; revised total coliform rule; NEW- Wastewater topics; stage 2 disinfection byproducts; common drinking water reporting mistakes and more.

Operator Training – Designed for current water or wastewater operators or those planning to become certified operators. Current operators earn Professional Development Hours (PDHs) toward certificate renewals. Topics include: water sources and treatment options; microbiology and water chemistry; well construction; operator math and more.

Manager/Owner Track:
Public Water System Management Training – Designed for owners of public water systems, board members of water-related organizations or municipalities, and superintendents and managers of public water systems. Topics include: emergency planning for water utilities; hazard analysis and risk mitigation; emergency response; water audit/water loss/leak detection; energy management; emerging technologies for small water systems; metering and remote sensing; and more.

Participants are responsible for their own lunch, travel and lodging.

View Agenda PDF
Register at this web site
Questions? Contact Mel Rose, 602-771-4695

During Child Passenger Safety Week, remember life jackets and helmets for kids

PHOENIX — In conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, the Arizona Game and Fish Department would like to remind boaters and off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders of the importance of life jackets and helmets for kids.

State law requires all passengers 12 years old and younger to wear a life jacket while on board a boat or watercraft. And when it comes to OHVs, operators and passengers under 18 must wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-safety rated helmet designed for motorized vehicle use.

“When you’re gearing up to take your kids out to enjoy Arizona’s outdoor recreation, ensure that everyone has the appropriate safety gear,” said Josh Hurst, off-highway vehicle law enforcement coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “A properly fitting helmet or life jacket is the most important piece of equipment that you and your children can wear when hitting OHV trails or going out on a boat.”

The best time to check the size and fit of safety gear is before you leave the house. Make sure that everyone in the family, especially children, has the necessary and appropriate safety equipment.

To ensure your child has a properly fitting helmet for riding on or operating an OHV, refer to the helmet manufacturer’s instructions and information. Good fit is essential for ensuring the best protection, and getting advised by a professional is helpful when determining the best option and fit for a child. For more information regarding general helmet information and frequently asked helmet questions, visit the Snell Memorial Foundation website at www.smf.org.

Before heading out to the lake, make sure that life jackets fit snug. Have a child lift his or her arms overhead while you lift up on the life jacket by the shoulder straps; if the jacket rides up above the ear lobes, it’s too big. If you get out to the lake and realize you’ve left a jacket at home, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has installed life jacket loaner stations near the boat ramps at lakes Pleasant, Havasu, Saguaro and Mohave.

Child Passenger Safety Week, which takes place Sept. 17-23, focuses on car safety, but it’s important to remember that safety comes first no matter the type of vehicle or watercraft. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is promoting the week in conjunction with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and information about events taking place in the state can be found online.

Ben Avery Shooting Facility offering discount on National Hunting and Fishing Day

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is inviting recreational shooters to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 23 at the Ben Avery Shooting Facility.

Arizona hunters and anglers who show their valid hunting or fishing license will receive an $8 discount for unlimited shooting (rifle only) from noon to 5 p.m. at the benchrest range, where steel targets will be placed at intervals up to 300 yards.

Those who don’t have a valid hunting or fishing license still are invited to come out and participate at the regular price ($15). All skill levels are welcome. There will be range safety officers available to assist all shooters. As a reminder, eye and ear protection is required and can be purchased at the shooting sports center.

The shooting sports can provide a lifetime of enjoyment with family and friends. It’s a safe, fun activity enjoyed by an estimated 50 million Americans, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). The world-class Ben Avery Shooting Facility, one of the nation’s largest publicly operated shooting facilities, drew more than 225,000 recreational shooters in 2016. The facility is located at 4044 W. Black Canyon Highway in north Phoenix.

National Hunting and Fishing Day, an annual celebration of hunters and anglers, features a unique twist in 2017. Richard Childress, NASCAR legend and honorary chair for this year’s event, is asking hunters and anglers to take someone new hunting or fishing, or to their local shooting range.

Those who pledge to introduce someone to the outdoors between now and Sept. 23 will be eligible to win a Richard Childress Racing VIP race weekend package or an outdoors getaway that includes a two-night stay in a log cabin at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson, Mo., several outdoor excursions and experiences, and passes to Johnny Morris’ new Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium. For more information, visit www.nhfday.org, or call (417) 225-1162.

Each new hunter and angler helps to fund conservation. Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) (PDF) funds are comprised of excise taxes collected on the sale of hunting and fishing equipment (including 11 percent on ammunition), the benefit of which comes right back to the states for habitat improvements, shooting ranges, boating access and more.

Jaguar in Chiricahua Mountains video is male

AZGF photo

PHOENIX — Contrary to a news release from a Tucson-based group, biologists from the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that a jaguar recently captured on a trail video camera in the Chiricahua Mountains is a male.

“This Center for Biological Diversity footage confirms that this is a jaguar we’ve seen before, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has photographic proof that this animal is unequivocally male,” said Jim deVos, assistant director for Wildlife Management at AZGFD. “We promptly informed the organization when the news release was issued that there is clear anatomical evidence of this jaguar’s gender.”

The news release quotes CBD employee Randy Seraglio as saying, “The really exciting part of all this is that we don’t know yet what sex (it) is,” and it refers to “The possibility that it may be a female… capable of jump-starting jaguar recovery in the region.”

A story in the Friday edition of the Arizona Daily Star says that Arizona Game and Fish Biologist Tim Snow informed Seraglio of the cat’s gender on Thursday morning as soon as their news release was made public, but CBD has yet to correct the release on their website.

“One must wonder about CBD’s motives for mischaracterizing this animal, given the clear evidence to the contrary,” deVos said. “We recognize the importance of finding a new jaguar in Arizona, however, no female jaguars have been seen in Arizona in more than 50 years. Those that have come here from Mexico have all been solitary males,” deVos said.

The proliferation of trail cameras near the border has afforded a glimpse into travels of Arizona’s unique visiting jaguars, but the distance from the nearest breeding population in Mexico and the decades-long lack of a documented female make a population in this state unforeseeable.

Because of the distance from other jaguar populations, some 130 miles south of the US border, Arizona is not considered optimal jaguar habitat.

Arizona Game and Fish Commission proposes amendments to Articles 6 and 11

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Commission has proposed to amend its rules following the 2017 five-year reviews of Article 6, Rules of Practice Before the Commission, and Article 11, Aquatic Invasive Species, to enact recommendations developed during the reviews.

The Article 6 (PDF) recommended amendments are designed to align the rule with statute, enable the department to provide better customer service, and reduce regulatory and administrative burdens wherever possible.

The Article 11 (PDF) recommended amendments are designed to make the rules more concise and easier to understand.

The commission approved the Notice of Proposed Expedited Rulemaking amending Articles 6 and 11 at the Sept. 6 Commission Meeting, and it will review the final expedited rulemaking at its Dec. 1 meeting.

Under A.R.S. § 41-1027(A)(7), an agency may use the expedited rulemaking process to implement, without material change, a course of action proposed in a five-year review report approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council provided the rulemaking does not increase burdens or costs to, or reduce procedural rights of, persons regulated by the rule. The commission approved the Article 6 and Article 11 five-year review reports at its Dec. 2, 2016, meeting, and the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council approved the reports at the March 7, 2017, Council Meeting.

An exemption from Executive Order 2015-01 was provided for this rulemaking by Hunter Moore, natural resource policy adviser for the Governor’s Office, in an email dated May 1, 2017.

Copies of the proposed expedited rulemakings are also available on the department’s website at https//www.azgfd.com/agency/rulemaking/.

Thermal cameras at Loop 101 ramps successfully detect wrong-way vehicles

PHOENIX – Thermal cameras now being tested for detecting wrong-way vehicles on freeway off-ramps in the Phoenix area successfully alerted authorities to two recent overnight incidents along Loop 101 (Agua Fria Freeway) in the northwest Valley.

Early Sunday, September 10, a thermal camera being tested at the Loop 101 interchange at 75th Avenue detected a wrong-way vehicle entering the eastbound freeway. The detection triggered an alert to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Traffic Operations Center, which activated warnings on overhead message boards, and to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. State Troopers found the vehicle stopped along the left shoulder of northbound 101 near Grand Avenue, and no crashes occurred.

Early Monday, September 11, a thermal camera detected a vehicle apparently traveling westbound in the eastbound lanes of Bell Road that then made a wrong-way turn to the northbound Loop 101 off-ramp. ADOT and DPS were again alerted to the detection. Video from the thermal camera shows the driver turning around at the top of the ramp and apparently returning to Bell Road. State Troopers who responded didn’t locate the vehicle or driver.

ADOT recently programmed existing thermal cameras used for traffic-signal sequencing at 11 freeway interchanges to test detection of vehicles entering off-ramps in the wrong direction.

Testing of these thermal cameras is taking place while ADOT moves forward on the installation of a comprehensive pilot wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 in Phoenix. The system, scheduled to be fully operational by early next year, also will use thermal cameras to detect wrong-way vehicles in an effort to reduce the risk of serious crashes.

This testing is one way ADOT is moving toward expanding wrong-way countermeasures as quickly as possible beyond the I-17 prototype system currently being installed.

In addition to thermal cameras, the I-17 prototype system will use warning signs for wrong-way drivers and advisories for right-way drivers. The system will automatically focus highway cameras on the wrong-way vehicle and send automated alerts to the Highway Patrol, helping troopers intercept vehicles faster.

On the I-17 ramps, wrong-way vehicles will trigger alerts, including illuminated signs with flashing lights, aimed at getting drivers to stop. The system will immediately warn other drivers through overhead message boards as well as law enforcement. Cameras in the area will automatically turn to face the wrong-way vehicle so traffic operators can better track it. On the freeway, thermal cameras placed at one-mile intervals will signal when a wrong-way vehicle passes so State Troopers can plan their response and get out in front of the wrong-way driver, providing a faster response.

ADOT commercial truck safety course a hit in Mexico

PHOENIX – An Arizona Department of Transportation safety training program for commercial vehicle drivers using international ports of entry is proving so popular with trucking companies and government officials in Mexico that ADOT has doubled the number of training sessions planned for this fall.

“Trade with Mexico is one way our highways are Key Commerce Corridors that drive Arizona’s economy,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “With the support of officials in Sonora, Mexico, we are expanding a program that’s boosting international commerce while ensuring that commercial vehicles are safe.”

Tim Lane, director of ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division, which conducts truck safety inspections at commercial ports of entry, said 46 commercial vehicle drivers attended the International Border Inspection Qualification program in the Sonoran capital of Hermosillo on Aug. 22 and 23.

Representatives from the Sonora governor’s office attended the event in Hermosillo, including Natalia Rivera Grijalva, chief of staff for Governor Claudia Artemiza Pavlovich Arellano, and Secretary Ricardo Martínez Terrazas for the Department of Infrastructure and Urban Development of Sonora. The event was covered by local newspapers, television and radio.

The program teaches commercial vehicle drivers what to expect during safety inspections when they enter Arizona through ports at San Luis, Nogales and Douglas. Including sessions in San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico, and Douglas, 89 drivers have completed training and testing in the program’s first six weeks.

Commercial vehicle drivers who pass examinations at the end of the program are able to communicate with ADOT safety inspectors using WhatsApp, a popular smartphone messaging app. Qualified drivers can send photos of potential safety issues to inspectors, who tell them whether the photos show violations and, if so, how to correct them. Commercial vehicle drivers who have participated in IBIQ training can use WhatsApp at the border ports of entry in Nogales, San Luis and Douglas.

The International Border Inspection Qualification program is part of ADOT’s Border Liaison Unit launched last fall to train commercial vehicle drivers and mechanics on safety inspections at the border. The goal is for trucking companies to make any needed repairs before they approach the border, saving the companies time and money and allowing ADOT inspectors to focus on trucks that are more likely to have safety concerns.

The program is working: ADOT inspectors have conducted fewer border inspections over the past year but have found more violations, increasing safety on Arizona roads. Those improvements have led to more trucks crossing in Arizona instead of elsewhere, boosting the state’s economy.

The International Border Inspection Qualification program stems from ADOT’s use of the Arizona Management System championed by Governor Doug Ducey. This approach to continuous improvement empowers employees at state agencies to come up with innovative ways to better serve customers.

The program initially scheduled four training sessions this fall but has added four more at the request of Mexican trucking officials, including one held last week in Douglas, Arizona. The remaining schedule:

* Sept. 19-20 in Nogales, Sonora
* Oct. 3-4 in Douglas, Arizona (to be conducted in English)
* Oct. 11-12 in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora
* Oct. 24-25 in Culiacán, Sinaloa
* A yet-to-be-determined November date in Hermosillo, Sonora

State Route 366 reopens on Mount Graham

PHOENIX – State Route 366 has reopened on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona after a six-week closure due to the danger of flooding and debris flows after the Frye Fire, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The road, also known as Swift Trail, connects with US 191 about 20 miles south of Safford. It had been closed at Ladybug Saddle near milepost 131, but as of Thursday, Sept. 14, it’s open again to Columbine at milepost 143.

The U.S. Forest Service is reopening areas of the Coronado National Forest that were closed due to the Frye Fire, but some recreational sites remain closed pending repairs. More information is available at www.fs.usda.gov/coronado.

Drivers may encounter ADOT or Forest Service work crews along SR 366 and could experience delays up to 30 minutes.