Arizona Department of Transportation and local agencies plan to improve State Route 89A corridor

PRESCOTT – The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and partnering agencies including the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization and Yavapai County are conducting a transportation planning study along State Route 89A from State Route 89 to east of Robert Road. The purpose of the study is to identify potential transportation improvements for the next 20 years as housing and commercial developments are anticipated to increase traffic volumes in the area.

ADOT will host a public meeting regarding the study on Tuesday, December 12, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Town of Prescott Valley Public Library located at 7401 E. Civic Circle, Prescott Valley, Arizona, 86314. A brief presentation will start at 6:15 p.m. followed by an open-house setting that will allow participants to speak directly with ADOT representatives. The public is encouraged to attend and provide comments.

Learn more about the study at:www.azdot.gov/SR89RobertRoadStudy . If you are unable to attend the meeting but would like to comment, you can do so before Dec. 31 in the following ways:

By telephone: 855.712.8530
By email:Projects@azdot.gov
In writing: State Route 89A Study, 206 S. 17th Avenue, MD310B, Phoenix, AZ 85007

Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. Persons who require a reasonable accommodation based on language or disability should contact Michele Beggs at 928.681.6054 or MBeggs@azdot.gov. Requests should be made as early as possible to ensure the State has an opportunity to address the accommodation.

Lane restrictions beginning this week on Milton Road in Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF – Flagstaff drivers should plan for restrictions on a short stretch of Milton Road during daytime hours beginning next week as the Arizona Department of Transportation has permitted work in the right of way.

This permit work is scheduled to occur on northbound Milton Road between Phoenix Avenue and Mike’s Pike Street Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning December 4 through Friday, December 15. The following restrictions will be in place:

The northbound travel lanes will be shifted and traffic control devices will guide motorists through the work zone.
Left turns will be prohibited in the work zone and the speed limit will be reduced to 30 mph.
Restrictions will be lifted during overnight hours.

Drivers should expect delays and consider alternate routes.

Fatal OHV accidents are a tragic reminder of the importance of driving best practices

PHOENIX — Following recent fatal off-highway vehicle (OHV) accidents, the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds everyone about the importance of following best practices when driving on the state’s trails and public land roads.

In late September, a 58-year-old woman died in Cave Creek after being pinned underneath her utility-task vehicle (UTV). A week earlier a Prescott man was found dead after his UTV flipped over and trapped him underneath it. In addition, two other fatalities were reported due to OHV accidents in September and another occurred in Bagdad on Nov. 2.

“These recent tragedies are a heartbreaking reminder that an accident can happen to anyone at any time,” said Josh Hurst, OHV law enforcement coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Having a great day out on your OHV means coming back home and being excited to plan your next trip.”

While safety equipment like helmets (which are required for riders and passengers under 18) and eye protection (required for everyone) are critically important in the event of an accident, they do not prevent accidents from occurring. With accident prevention the ultimate goal, it’s important to look at the riding behavior that can contribute to OHV accidents.

Riding Double — Each OHV was designed by the manufacturer to carry a maximum number of passengers, and operating the vehicle with more than the recommended number of passengers not only changes how the vehicle responds when being driven, but it also means there aren’t built-in safety components for everyone onboard, such as a seat, footrests or handrails for passengers. Many injuries caused by an OHV crash are due to passengers riding improperly.

Reckless Driving — OHVs can weigh upward of 1,800 pounds, so it’s important to remember that they require the same skills and thoughtful driving as a typical passenger vehicle. Stay on legal roads and trails, using caution and proper riding techniques like shifting your weight and position to maintain control of the vehicle. Maintaining a reasonable speed and taking tight turns and steep hills cautiously can go a long way toward having a successful outing. Adapt your speed and riding behavior to ever-changing road and weather conditions, particularly in unfamiliar riding areas.

Driving While Impaired — Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs on an OHV is the same as a DUI in any other vehicle. The same laws apply while operating an OHV as do while operating a vehicle. If you are operating an OHV on public lands and are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you can be stopped by officers and arrested and face the same penalties as a DUI on the street. Driving under the influence is a major contributing factor to OHV accidents and injuries sustained as a result of OHV-related crashes. Drive smart, drive sober!

All of these actions can contribute to an accident or a rollover crash. Side-by-sides or UTVs often trap or pin the driver and any passengers when they roll over, and wearing seatbelts when available and window safety nets can be the difference between an accident and a tragedy.

“At the end of the day, what we want is for everyone to have an enjoyable time exploring Arizona on their OHVs,” Hurst said. “Contribute to our community of responsible and passionate OHV enthusiasts by doing your part to stay safe on the state’s roads and trails.”

Sold your car? Don’t forgot to file a Sold Notice with MVD

PHOENIX – Have you sold your car online, to a person down the street, to a family member? Don’t forget to report that sale to the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division by filing a Sold Notice.

It’s not only the law; it can save you trouble – and money.

A Sold Notice should be completed within 10 calendar days of selling, trading in, donating or otherwise transferring ownership of a vehicle. It’s free and can be done anytime at ServiceArizona.com.

This notice ensures that MVD and law enforcement have a record of who currently owns the vehicle. If the vehicle is found abandoned, without updated sold notice information the previous owner will still be listed as the current owner and could get the bill for towing and other fees.

If a vehicle is abandoned on certain federal or state lands, owners can be charged $600 or more with storage fees also possible. Costs are similar for vehicles left on private property.

There also have been cases in which the prior owner of a vehicle without a Sold Notice on file has been contacted by law enforcement because that vehicle has been used during a crime.

In such cases, there are ways for you to prove that you sold the vehicle. But filing a Sold Notice will save you that trouble.

“A Sold Notice protects consumers,” said MVD Stakeholder Relations Manager Jennifer Bowser-Richards. “If the vehicle is sold and is later in a crash or used in a crime, or if it’s simply abandoned, the MVD will have a record of the sale. That means a former owner won’t be responsible for abandoned vehicle fees, or worse called into court to explain why the vehicle was used in a crime or crash they had nothing do to with.”

The process is simple via ServiceArizona.com:

  • Enter vehicle and seller’s information
  • Enter the buyer’s information and the date vehicle was sold
  • View and/or print a confirmation
  • Complete an optional survey

MVD also keeps an eye out for unscrupulous unlicensed or licensed dealers who may attempt to sell a vehicle as though they are actually a private seller. When a vehicle is sold by a private owner to a dealer, a Sold Notice will alert MVD if that dealer attempts to re-sell the vehicle privately, and ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division will investigate.

For more information about abandoned vehicles and Sold Notices, please visit azdot.gov/mvd.

Be a hero for wildlife – your donations will help the AZGFD Wildlife Center

PHOENIX — You can help sick or injured wildlife on Giving Tuesday.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Center treats sick, injured or orphaned wildlife. Some can be released to the wild, but those that can’t require continued care, either as “wildlife ambassadors” for educational presentations at local schools and community events, or for placement in a zoo or wildlife sanctuary. The animals pictured above have all been rescued during the past year.

The department receives no Arizona tax dollars to operate, and the cost of feeding and caring for these animals often outweighs the available funding.

We’ve set a goal to raise $10,000, and there are two easy ways you can donate. Text CRITTER to 41444 or clicking on the image above will take you to the web site.

Your generous donation will help the Wildlife Center in accomplishing its mission of caring for these animals. Thank you for your consideration!

SR 67 to North Rim of Grand Canyon will close for winter Tuesday

PHOENIX ‒ State Route 67 between Jacob Lake (US 89A) and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is scheduled to close for the winter season on Tuesday, December 5.

ADOT doesn’t clear snow from SR 67 during the winter since North Rim visitor accommodations are closed. The highway reopens each spring, usually around mid-May. US 89A remains open during the winter.

ADOT reminds motorists heading into snow country to drive with caution and follow this advice:

  • Don’t let GPS and navigation apps replace common sense. When a highway is closed, a suggested alternate route involving an unpaved, unplowed road can lead you into danger.
  • Pack an emergency kit, a fully charged cellphone, extra clothing, water and snacks.
  • Slow down. Drive defensively. Be patient and allow additional time for your trip.
  • Never pass a snowplow.
  • Leave sufficient space between your vehicle and those ahead of you. Give yourself plenty of room and time to stop or to avoid hazards.
  • Make sure your vehicle has plenty of fuel.
  • Check weather and road conditions before you travel. Let someone know your route.
  • Bring a small bag of sand (or cat litter) for wheel traction.

Additional information on winter driving is available at azdot.gov/KnowSnow.

Before heading out on the roads, drivers can call 511 or visit ADOT’s Traveler Information Center at az511.gov tp get the latest highway conditions around the state. The website features camera images along state highways that give drivers a glimpse of weather conditions in various regions.

When a freeway closure or other major traffic event occurs, our free app available at ADOTAlerts.com will send critical information directly to app users in affected areas – where possible, in advance of alternate routes.

2017 wildlife photo contest winners announced

PHOENIX — Sometimes things happen when you least expect them. “I came upon this brave cactus wren taking on the cholla cactus,” said Pamela Parker of Mesa, explaining how she got the winning shot of this year’s wildlife photo contest. “I loved how the wren was framed by all the needles and had to take the photo.” She kept a watchful eye, taking several shots and capturing the bird surrounded by the cactus.

Parker used a handheld camera because she likes to be “on the same level as my subjects.” She caught the photography bug in 2014 after receiving a camera as a gift from her husband. After taking a photography class, she started visiting local parks to practice her new obsession. When Parker took her first photos, she “stood in amazement and awe. I will never forget that feeling.”

More than 250 photographers entered this year’s wildlife photo competition. Thirteen winning images are published in a full-size 2018 wildlife calendar in the November–December 2017 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine, which will be on sale for $3 starting this week at all Arizona Game and Fish Department offices.

In addition to Parker, the other 12 winning photographers are:

  • Greg Collins, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.: Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
  • Timothy Cota, Mesa: brown vine snake
  • Joshua Esquivel, Sedona: rufous hummingbirds
  • Gary Michael Flanagan, Gilbert: great blue heron
  • Eric Heaton, Gilbert: bull elk and harem
  • Donal Hill, Flagstaff: Abert’s squirrel
  • Bryan Keil, Scottsdale: green heron
  • Peggy Kniffin, Chandler: burrowing owl
  • Bob Reisinger, Tempe: drake gadwall
  • Kathy Ritter, Happy Jack: white-tailed deer
  • Tam Ryan, Mesa: coyotes
  • Bruce D. Taubert, Glendale: American badger

Given the strength and diversity of this year’s 600-plus entries, the judges singled out 38 more images from 32 talented photographers for honorable mention. These photos also are featured in Arizona Wildlife Views magazine. The names of honorable mention photographers are posted on the photo contest’s Web page, www.azgfd.gov/photocontest.

Arizona Game and Fish welcomes new subscribers to Arizona’s award-winning magazine about wildlife and outdoor recreation. The regular price is $8.50 for six issues (one year), but through December 31, subscriptions are on sale for $7 for seven issues. They can be purchased online here.

Those who subscribe by December 31 will receive the calendar issue showing this year’s winners and honorable mentions.

Kaibab National Forest partners with The Nature Conservancy on forest restoration project

Heavy equipment being used during mechanical thinning operations along Forest Road 122. Photo by Dyan Bone. Credit Kaibab National Forest.

WILLIAMS – The Kaibab National Forest is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to complete critical forest restoration and watershed protection work around Bill Williams Mountain near the City of Williams.

The tree thinning work within the 2,496-acre Clover project area began this week and is expected to continue over the next two years, depending on weather and ground conditions at any given time. The work is occurring within the larger 15,200-acre Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project footprint and is a top treatment priority for forest managers due to the area being the primary watershed and municipal water supply for the City of Williams.

“Getting this work accomplished is incredibly important to us as forest managers and as members of the Williams community,” said Samantha Flores, timber staff officer for the South Zone of the Kaibab National Forest. “By partnering with The Nature Conservancy through a stewardship agreement, we are able to meet our shared goals of greatly improving forest and watershed health while also making the City of Williams safer in the long run from threats like wildfire and flooding.”

As thinning work is implemented, residents and visitors can expect to see heavy, mechanized equipment and workers in the project area as well as an increasing number of log trucks, including some that may need to travel through the City of Williams. Haul routes will include forest roads 111, 106 and 140 as well as County Road 73 and Interstate 40. It is possible that there could be a significant number of trucks hauling timber through the area until project completion.

Members of the public are urged to use extreme caution near timber removal and hauling operations. Besides the presence of heavy equipment and log trucks, there will also be trees being felled and stacked into log decks, which can be unstable. Visitors to the area should not camp near nor climb on them, as they often shift and have the possibility of collapse.

While there are no official closures in place associated with this forest restoration work, visitors interested in hiking Bill Williams Mountain are encouraged to use the Bill Williams Mountain Trail rather than the Benham Trail for the duration of the project due to the likelihood that temporary detours or re-routes of Benham Trail might be necessary at various points, depending on harvesting activity.

Besides the Clover project, other forest restoration efforts are also underway in the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project footprint. Kaibab National Forest employees have planned and laid out more than 3,500 acres to be included in timber sales. This has involved developing prescriptions for these acres and marking trees within them. Members of the public may notice the marked trees while visiting the area. The Forest Service will be seeking to offer these acres in timber sales in the near future to local contractors and others who may be able to support the forest restoration effort.

Also, 700 acres are being treated using hand thinning operations on the steep slopes of the south side of Bill Williams Mountain. Because of the inability of most heavy equipment to reach these challenging areas, crews are carrying in chainsaws to accomplish the work.

Finally, more than 200 acres are being treated using mechanical thinning, meaning heavy equipment, along Forest Road 122, also known as the Twin Springs Road, south of Bill Williams Mountain. This treatment is intended to serve as a buffer for any wildfires that might get started south of the mountain. This is a particularly important place to treat given prevailing winds in northern Arizona and the typical direction of wildfire spread due to those winds. This is also a critical treatment due to the high recreational use in this area and the resulting potential for unwanted, human-caused wildfires that could pose threats to the mountain and to the Williams community.

“For many years, even decades, on the Kaibab National Forest, we have been working toward this goal of treating Bill Williams Mountain in a truly significant way that will help not only in terms of forest health but also community protection and public safety,” said Mike Uebel, fuels program manager for the Williams Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest and the implementation team leader for the Bill Williams Mountain Restoration Project. “To see all of the time, energy and preparation we’ve put into this effort turning into actual work on the ground is very rewarding and something we hope the Williams community will be pleased to see in action.”

Information sought in deer poaching case near Bagdad

KINGMAN – The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is seeking information about a recent poaching of a deer near Bagdad, Arizona.

The doe was shot in the neck on or about October 28 and left to waste near Hardy Schell, a stock tank northwest of Windy Ridge in Game Management Unit 18B. AZGFD is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in this case.

“Evidence was collected at the scene, but help from the public will play a critical role in finding those responsible,” AZGFD Wildlife Manager AJ Lander said. “This is not the act of a hunter. Poaching is a crime. It is stealing wildlife from the citizens of Arizona. It is important for anyone with information to come forward and help Game and Fish bring those responsible to justice.”

An investigation is ongoing, and wildlife officers are seeking information about a 1980’s model two-tone blue and grey Ford Bronco. Two male individuals are believed to be involved.

One man was described as being in his 60s, with black curly hair and an overweight build. This individual was seen wearing black coveralls, similar to what a mechanic would wear, and is believed to be the driver of the Bronco. The other subject was also described as being in his 60s, with a slimmer build and was seen wearing blue jeans and an orange hunter hat.

Officers are asking anyone with information about the person or persons responsible for this crime to come forward.

Anyone with information about the case can call the department’s Operation Game Thief hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700 and provide case number 17-004326 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/ogt. Callers’ identities will be kept confidential, and people can report anonymously if needed.

To learn more about Operation Game Thief, visit www.azgfd.gov/ogt.

Prescribed burning to continue near Tusayan

TUSAYAN – Crews plan to continue working on the Reed Prescribed Fire project east of Tusayan over the next few days and will likely begin on Friday of this week. Burning may continue into the week ahead providing weather conditions remain favorable for meeting forest health objectives and desired smoke dispersion.

Ignitions are set to continue on a 289 acre block approximately 4 miles east of Tusayan and just south of the East Rim Drive in the Grand Canyon National Park.

“The majority of smoke produced during daytime operations is expected to disperse away from sensitive areas, however we do expect some residual smoke to settle into drainages and low lying areas overnight.” said Quentin Johnson, Fire Management Officer on the Tusayan Ranger District. “Due to the proximity of these particular burn units located relatively close to town, our biggest challenge is trying to treat these acres with the least amount of smoke impact to the surrounding communities.”

Managers recognize the inconvenience smoke can cause and adjust tactics to limit the number of days smoke is in the air by burning smaller portions and only igniting every few days allowing ventilation to occur earlier and more rapidly. Among the many benefits of re-introducing fire to landscapes in these forested areas, broadcast burning is utilized to remove dead and down debris from ground surfaces over wide areas lessening the potential for a catastrophic wildfire.

Smoke may be visible from Highway 64 and from the communities of Grand Canyon, Valle and Tusayan. Overnight smoke impacts are expected to lift and ventilate rapidly each morning as ground surface temperatures warm in the morning hours.Officials remind motorists to always use caution when driving on roadways where visibility may potentially be impacted by smoke. Fire managers work closely with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, partners in the Grand Canyon National Park, as well as surrounding Native American tribes to monitor air quality.

For more information and the most current updates about prescribed fire on the Kaibab National Forest the following resources are available:

• Inciweb: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5160/
• Fire Information Recorded Hotline: 928-635-8311
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/KaibabNF/
• Twitter: twitter.com/kaibabnf (Text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404 to receive text messages.)
• Kaibab website “News & Events”: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab