Paving scheduled on Interstate 40 near I-17 Junction Thursday, July 20

FLAGSTAFF – Motorists traveling eastbound on Interstate 40 to Flagstaff should allow extra time while paving is underway near the I-17 Junction. Construction is scheduled from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, July 20. A single-lane restriction will be in place to accommodate work between mileposts 195 and 197, located one mile west of Butler Avenue.

Drivers should use caution and watch for construction personnel and equipment while paving is underway.

Recent storms serve as reminder for boaters and OHV operators to use caution

PHOENIX — Monsoon season is in full swing and the Arizona Game and Fish Department warns boating and off-highway vehicle (OHV) users that weather conditions can change quickly and could be dangerous for those who aren’t prepared.
The severity of monsoon storms varies greatly from a minor dust storm to a violent thunderstorm capable of producing hail, deadly lightning and/or flash flooding.
Recent storms brought high winds, thunderstorms and rough water to the Lake Pleasant area. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies made multiple water rescues on July 14 and 15:
  • Two paddle boarders were rescued July 14 after being knocked into the water by a severe thunderstorm; one of them was not wearing a personal flotation device. One of the women was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and was released after treatment.
  • Also on July 14, three juveniles operating a Wave Runner personal watercraft encountered storms. One of the juveniles was rescued by a family member, while the other two were secured by Lake Patrol deputies.
  • On July 15, 10 people were pulled from the water and no one sustained significant injuries.
In addition, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office reported that there were multiple instances of property damage — four boats sunk, another beached after becoming partially submerged, and damage was incurred to numerous other boats.
“Arizona is known as a great place for outdoor recreation and activities. But whether you’re out on a boat or riding an OHV, weather is a critical factor that everyone must pay attention to,” said Josh Hoffman, Boating Safety Education coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “If severe weather is likely or storms are appearing nearby, it’s a good time to safely get off of the water or riding trails and move indoors.”
The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Boating and OHV Safety Education programs offer users the following tips to protect themselves and passengers during the monsoon season.
When on a boat or personal watercraft:
  • While life jackets are legally required for children 12 and younger, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times while on the water. Storms can create large waves that could knock a passenger from the boat.
  • Monitor the weather around you, and use a weather radio for updates from the National Weather Service. If storms are predicted or are building, pull your boat out of the water or consider postponing your outing.
  • Secure all gear above and below decks.
  • Keep everyone aboard away from electrical and ungrounded components, and remain as low in the boat as possible.
  • Slow down but keep enough power to maintain headway and steering.
  • Turn on your navigation lights.
  • If possible, head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach. It may be best to ride it out in open water rather than try to approach the shore in heavy wind and waves.
  • Boats should head the bow into the waves at a 45-degree angle. Personal watercrafts should head directly into the waves.
When on an OHV:
  • Always wear proper safety gear, including a helmet, eye protection, long sleeves, pants, over-the-ankle boots and gloves.
  • Carefully seek shelter indoors as storms are developing or are nearby.
  • Never cross running water. While it may look shallow, it may be deep enough that it could push the vehicle downstream or you may get stuck in loose sediment.
  • Drive slowly to not lose control on muddied trails.
  • To avoid being struck by lightning, avoid open fields, high land, trees, poles or other tall objects and standing bodies of water.
  • Be aware of and avoid flash flood zones.
For more information on boating in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating. For more information on riding an OHV in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/OHV.

Monsoons keep North Zone firefighters busy as lightning ignites multiple fires in Kaibab National Forest, Grand Canyon National Park

FREDONIA — For Immediate Release. Within the past week, North Zone fire personnel consisting of firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service have responded jointly to multiple lightning-caused wildfires located on both the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and adjacent North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest.

Lightning-caused wildfires are a common occurrence during the monsoon season (typically late-June through late-July). Of the five fires sparked by monsoonal storms this week, two are being suppressed and three are being monitored.

Monitoring a wildfire is a fire management tactic used by fire managers when strategizing an incident response, and contributing factors that help steer this decision-making process are often incident specific. Location, available resources, predicted weather, topography, air quality and predicted fire behavior are all factors that contribute to fire management decisions.

“Each of these fires has received significant monsoonal moisture and are predicted to receive even more throughout the next week,” said North Zone Fire Management Officer Ed Hiatt. “This ebb and flow of monsoonal moisture allows us the necessary time to identify values at risk, assess potential planning area boundaries and gather other intelligence necessary to make sound tactical decisions so that we are ready to respond appropriately once fire activity dictates.”

Fires currently in monitor status are:

· The Haunted wildfire – burning in ponderosa pine fuel type located at the Outlet Peninsula on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The fire is approximately 3 acres in size.
· The Pine Hollow wildfire – burning in ponderosa pine fuel type and debris left from the Pipeline Fire of 2009. The fire is west of Big Springs Field Station in the vicinity of Little Mountain and is approximately 5 acres in size.
· The Crescent wildfire is burning north of the historic Kanabownits Lookout Tower in ponderosa pine and mixed conifer fuel types and is approximately 3 acres in size.

Additional fire activity updates will be provided as new information becomes available, and may be obtained through the following sources:

· Kaibab National Forest Website: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab
· Grand Canyon National Park: www.nps.gov/grca/learn/management/firemanagement.htm
· Kaibab National Forest Fire Information phone line: (928) 635-8311
· Text Message – text ‘follow kaibabnf’ to 40404
· Twitter: @KaibabNF
· Facebook: @KaibabNF

The Art of Sustainable Building Display

FLAGSTAFF – The 2017 Sustainable Building Award recipients will be highlighted during a photography exhibit titled “The Art of Sustainable Building.” The exhibit will be available for public viewing at the Flagstaff Pulliam Airport through August 18 and other locations to follow.

“The Art of Sustainable Building” theme was chosen to express the importance of aesthetics to sustainability. Included in the display are photographs of the projects, information about their sustainable features, as well as general information about visually aesthetic elements.

The 19 projects displayed include passive solar design, energy and water efficient systems and appliances, greywater and rainwater systems, and construction methods such as insulated concrete forms and straw bale. The artwork displays the aesthetics of the certified projects while providing sustainability education.

The Flagstaff Pulliam Airport was chosen as a location due to its on-going commitment to sustainability. The Airport recently completed a sustainability plan with the Flagstaff Sustainability Program.

The display was made possible through the following partners’ contributions: AP Sawmill & Lumber Products, Architectural Design Studio, Coconino Community College, Ezra Builders, Flagstaff Skylights, Habitat for Humanity of Northern Arizona ReStore, Hope Construction, PWMA, Solar Design and Construction, and SolarTerra Design. Coconino Community College Interns were responsible for engineering the displays.

Display locations are listed with the correlated dates as follows:

July 20 – Aug. 20: Flagstaff Pulliam Airport
Sept. 1 – Sept. 4: Coconino County Fair, photography display area
Sept. 30: Sustainable Building Tour, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center

For more information visit www.coconino.az.gov/sustainablebuilding or contact (928) 679-8882.

Coconino Amateur Radio Club presents special award

FLAGSTAFF – The Coconino Amateur Radio Club met for their regular business meeting at the Sizzler in Flagstaff Thursday, July 13. In addition to the business, however, they had a prestigious award to present. In addition to the normal routine—such as winning the 2017 Field Day trophy—they made the presentation to the Arizona Amateur Radio Ham-of-the-Year.

Joe W7LUX (left) receives Ham of the Year award from Jack KD7RCJ.


Joe Hobart W7LUX, was awarded the Ham of the Year award for 2017 by ARA Staff member Jack Lunsford KD7RCJ.

Joe Hobart is the area coordinator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and technical representative for the Arizona Repeater Association in Flagstaff.

A historic landmark falls

WILLIAMS – The Old Smokey’s across from Dairy Queen on Route 66 was a Williams landmark for years. After serving hundreds of thousands of breakfasts and lunches to locals and travelers alike, the building became unusable. Several years ago, the new owners moved the restaurant downtown next to the mall at 125 W. Route 66.

This afternoon the Old Smokey’s building was destroyed by workers.

​​​​​​​Bobcat in Anthem attack tests positive for rabies​​

PHOENIX — A bobcat that attacked a large dog and bit a man on the hand in the Anthem Country Club area on Sunday evening has tested positive for rabies.

At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department received a call that a man was bitten on the hand by a bobcat. The man reported to officers that the bobcat attacked a German shepherd and he was bitten while trying to separate the two animals.

The bobcat quickly fled the immediate area, but was located and dispatched. The animal underwent a necropsy by the department’s wildlife health veterinarian and tissue samples were sent to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Results showed it tested positive for rabies.

While bobcats are abundant throughout Arizona––including in urban areas—they can be aggressive if they become sick, trapped or are defending offspring or a territory. They also tend to frequent habitats where food and water are plentiful, such as in neighborhoods.

Because bobcats are rarely a threat to people and commonly coexist without incident, AZGFD does not routinely relocate bobcats. To discourage bobcats from living near a residence, homeowners should:

  • Keep domestic animals such as small dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits, in a secure enclosure with a sturdy roof if outdoors and unattended.
  • Keep small dogs and cats indoors, in a secure enclosure or on a leash when outdoors.
  • Feed dogs and cats inside or remove any uneaten pet food left outside between feedings.
  • Keep the landscaping around your home neatly trimmed to cover to hide. Likewise relocate or remove piles of debris or junk.
  • Repair openings in fences that could allow a bobcat to easily enter the yard.
  • Fencing your yard is helpful, however, bobcats can jump up to 12 feet, so a 6-foot-tall fence may not deter them if they are attracted to something in the yard.

Residents can discourage a bobcat from living near their home by:

  • Making loud noises such as yelling, using whistles, horns, blaring music or bang on pots and pans.
  • Spraying it with a garden hose.
  • Throwing objects (e.g., rocks, sticks, toys, cans, shoes, etc.) at it.

For information about living in the vicinity of bobcats and how to discourage them from living near your home, visit the Department’s website at www.azgfd.gov.

Coconino, Kaibab Forest and County fire restrictions end tomorrow

FLAGSTAFF — In coordination with area partners such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, Coconino County will remove fire restrictions at 8 a.m., Tuesday, July 18.

Significant moisture and fewer wildland fire starts throughout northern Arizona has brought has decreased the fire risk in the region. When local area U.S Forests lift fire restrictions, the Coconino Wildland Defense Ordinance allows for Coconino County Emergency Manager Whitney to remove restrictions.

Several areas in the region may have received less precipitation, causing fire danger to be higher in some locations. Residents and visitors are asked to use caution when using equipment or items that can spark a fire. They are also asked to extinguish all campfires, operate ATVS and motorcycles with spark arrestors and to use caution when operating barbeque grills. Residents and visitors are reminded they can be legally responsible for causing wildfires.

The County Enacted Stage 2 fire restrictions on June 22 due to very high wildfire danger in the area and went back to Stage 1 fire restrictions at the onset of the monsoon, July 13.

The Coconino and Kaibab forests have lifted their restrictions, also. The Coconino has been under Stage 2 fire restrictions while Kaibab remained in Stage 1 since mid-June.

“With the monsoon moisture we have received, the decreasing fire danger, and the availability of many firefighting resources, fire officials on both forests collaboratively decided it is the appropriate time to lift all fire restrictions for the Coconino and Kaibab,” said Jason Clawson, fire staff officer for the Kaibab National Forest. “Fire restrictions are a great tool for us in preventing unwanted, human-caused fires, and we’d like to thank our visitors for their vigilance in being cautious with potential ignition sources while recreating in the forests.”

The Coconino and Kaibab forests initially implemented campfire and smoking restrictions on June 13, in order to protect public health and reduce preventable, human-caused wildfires. While fire restrictions will be lifted over the next two days, visitors are always expected to use caution with campfires and other potential ignition sources. Campfires should always be completely extinguished and never left unattended or abandoned.

The task ahead is to remind people that they still have to be careful with camp fires. First you are required to have a shovel and enough water on hand to put out the fire out when you leave. A camp fire is NOT a bonfire. You should only build a fire that you can control. Remember winds can kick up and distribute sparks over a wide area.

Tree specialists continue work to restore ponderosa pine on North Kaibab

FREDONIA – Employees on the North Kaibab Ranger District of the Kaibab National Forest have once again partnered with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to plant seedlings in the Warm Fire 2017 planting project at East Lake.

This year’s Warm Fire planting project was completed in the spring with the help of a $54,000 grant from the NFF and the combined efforts of both the USDA Forest Service and Oregon-based contractor GE Forestry. Together, this on-the-ground effort yielded a total of 76,000 ponderosa pine seedlings planted in the 350-acre East Lake project area. It also increased the overall grand total for the Warm Fire reforestation to more than 1.8 million trees planted and certified across 6,100 acres of this multi-phased reforestation effort since planting efforts began in 2008.

This year’s planting project was led by North Kaibab Ranger District Assistant Silviculturist Joseph Varnado and District Silviculturist Garry Domis. This is the sixth such project in the Warm Fire area. All six projects were made possible through more than $440,000 in grants provided to the Kaibab National Forest from the National Forest Foundation, American Forest Foundation, Salt River Project Trees for Change program, and the National Bank of Arizona’s Sustainable Initiatives program.

“The key here is survival. We are planting tomorrow’s future forest,” said Varnado. “So when we’re out here, we are looking for the best possible sites to plant. Sites with the best moisture, with the best shade, and the best protection from the elements so we can enhance the survivability of our investment and protect our future forest.”

An important component crucial to that survivability began in 2009 when cones for the reforestation effort were collected from the North Kaibab and shipped to Lucky Peak Nursery near Boise, Idaho. Seeds are extracted and stored in the forest’s seed bank until needed for a planting project.

By planting seeds harvested from cones collected on the North Kaibab and stored at the nursery, foresters are able to “ensure proper provenance for planting,” said Domis, by planting native trees back into an area when the need arises. “In the forestry world we refer to this collection, storage and planting of seedlings in an area in which they originated as the conservation of genetics,” said North Kaibab District Ranger Randall Walker. “The long-term benefits help ensure provenance and avoid contamination of the genetic pool specific to a particular geographic location and elevational band. This multi-phased conservation effort is important to helping the area recover because it results in the best phenotypic characteristics that stand the best chance of survival.”

According to Walker, some preferred phenotypic traits may include trees with dark-colored green crowns which indicates the best chance to synthesize nutrients; trees with straight form which indicates the best chance to capture sunlight; trees with branch angles that can best adapt to snow loads at a higher elevation versus a lower elevation; or trees without forks, as forked trees are more susceptible to damage by winds at higher elevations.

Regardless of location or vegetation type, foresters can theoretically collect any type of native seed and send to the nursery for storage and future planting projects. Ordering a particular species is as simple as submitting a “sow and grow” request to the nursery.

For this year’s planting project, Domis submitted a request to Lucky Peak Nursery in November 2015. The seeds were then withdrawn from the forest’s seed bank and then sown and grown on site, a process that takes approximately 12 months before the seedlings are ready for selection and shipment to the forest.

James Ammons becomes chairman of Arizona Game and Fish Commission

PHOENIX — James Ammons assumed the role of chairman of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission on July 1. Charged with leading the five-member commission for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, Ammons has been serving on the commission since 2014 after being appointed to a five-year term by then-Gov. Jan Brewer.

Ammons replaces Chairman Edward “Pat” Madden, whose term as chair expired June 30. Madden will continue to serve on the commission through the end of the year until a successor is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Commissioners’ five-year terms are staggered, and each commissioner traditionally serves as chair during his or her final year.

A third-generation Yuma native with a passion for hunting and spending time in the great outdoors, Ammons has extensive experience in both business and wildlife issues. Ammons has owned and operated River Cities Adjusters, a Yuma-based transportation service, since 1978 and served as a board member of AEA Federal Credit Union. He is a life member of the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club where he has served as a board member and president. Ammons was named the club’s “Sportsman of the Year” in 2010 and played an instrumental role in implementing policy and bylaw changes that allowed membership for women.

Ammons has worked on multiple waterhole development projects, various wildlife conservation initiatives, and Bureau of Land Management recreation management planning. He is a member of numerous organizations, including the Arizona Antelope Foundation, the Arizona Mule Deer Association, the Arizona Elk Society and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Ammons also is a life member of the Wild Sheep Foundation, Grand Slam Club and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society.

“As chairman, I look forward to a continued productive working relationship between the commission, department and public to ensure that Arizona’s wildlife is protected, conserved, enhanced and managed,” Ammons said.

The commission oversees the Arizona Game and Fish Department and establishes policy for the management, conservation and harvest of wildlife. The commission makes rules and regulations for managing, conserving, and protecting wildlife and fisheries resources, and safe and regulated watercraft and off-highway vehicle operations for the benefit of the citizens of Arizona.

For more information about the commission, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission.