More than 4,000 permit-tags remain for 2018 spring javelina hunts

PHOENIX — Arizona hunters who were unsuccessful in the recent 2018 spring draw still have an opportunity to receive a hunt permit-tag for javelina.

As of Tuesday, 1,691 leftover hunt permit-tags were available for general hunts that begin Feb. 23. There also were 1,432 hunt permit-tags for archery-only hunts that begin Jan. 1; 1,239 hunt permit-tags for handgun, archery and muzzleloader (HAM) hunts that get underway Feb. 9; and 99 hunt permit-tags for youth-only hunts that start Jan. 26. Only 15 hunt permit-tags were left over for Challenged Hunter Access/Mobility Permit (CHAMP) hunts that begin Jan. 26.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has posted a list of leftover hunt permit-tags on its website at www.azgfd.com/Hunting/Draw/. Hunters can apply on a first come, first served basis one of two ways: Fill out a paper application and bring it to any department office statewide, at which time a hunt permit-tag will be issued, or mail the completed application to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Attn.: Draw/First Come, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85086. Allow 10 to 15 business days to receive a hunt permit-tag by mail.

For more information, including license and hunt permit-tag requirements, legal methods of take, and bag limits, view the “2018 Spring Turkey, Javelina, Bison, Bear and Raptor Capture Hunt Draw Information” booklet online, or call (602) 942-3000.

Deadline to apply for shooting range development grants is January 15

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is accepting applications for up to $100,000 in annual grant funding from nonprofit organizations and government agencies that are committed to the development and improvement of public shooting ranges.

Application packets can be downloaded at https://www.azgfd.com/Shooting/RangeGrants. All completed application packets must be received or postmarked by January 15, 2018. Grants will be awarded through a competitive application process.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission created the Shooting Range Development Program in 1996 to foster the development and improvement of shooting ranges and to support their maintenance and operation. Through the program, the commission encourages hunters to become more proficient with firearms, promotes safe hunting and shooting practices, provides Arizona residents with safe recreational shooting (including archery) areas, and supports law enforcement training.

“This grant program is an investment in groups that are committed to carrying out the important mission of passing down our recreational shooting heritage to the next generation,” said Matthew Schwartzkopf, the department’s statewide shooting range administrator. “This is a great opportunity to make a difference.”

Grant funds are used to reimburse eligible project expenditures up to 50 percent of the total cost. Grants can be matched with cash, donated labor and materials, and other secured funding.

Projects for development, redevelopment, relocation, noise abatement, improvements and purchases of capital equipment must have an expected useful life of five years or more. The acceptance of a grant requires that the range be made available for the department’s Hunter Education Program activities, hunter recruitment efforts, and activities that support the Archery in the Schools Program and Scholastic Clay Target Program.

There is no cost to Arizona taxpayers for this grant 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 grant program is an investment in the continuance of wildlife conservation efforts and outdoors recreation participation in Arizona. To learn more about how hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters fund wildlife conservation, visit www.azgfd.gov/h_f/federal-aid-cycle.shtml.

For more information about the grant program, or application materials, contact Schwartzkopf at (623) 236-7395.

ADEQ Study Confirms Public School Drinking Water Below Established Testing Levels

PHOENIX – Arizona’s public school drinking water systems were below established testing levels for lead contamination, according to just-completed Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) testing. The study used a more conservative standard for examining potential lead contamination than is established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The testing, which began in January due to nationwide concern stemming from the situation in Flint, Mich., found that 96 percent of all public school district water fixtures screened for lead were within conservative screening levels. State agencies and partners are actively working to address the fixtures with elevated levels – many of which were from non-drinking water sources.

“ADEQ is proud to stand with the many people, including our partners at the public school districts, who helped complete this proactive screening program in record time,” said Trevor Baggiore, Director, ADEQ Water Quality Division. “Protecting public health, especially the health of our children, is a primary part of our mission,” added Baggiore.

The data is presented in Arizona’s Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program report (PDF), which details the collaboration with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), the Arizona School Facilities Board (SFB), and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), and support from numerous county health and municipal partners and public school district superintendents.

Arizona is the only state that has successfully completed a proactive, comprehensive and voluntary screening program for lead in public school district drinking water and completed it within six months’ time. Report screening results represent:

  • 16,125 total samples
  • 14,782 fixtures
  • 11,585 buildings
  • 1,427 schools
  • 180 public school districts

The School Facilities Board is actively working with public school districts to replace the small number of fixtures with confirmed elevated lead levels. ADEQ is coordinating with these schools to sample and verify that fixture replacements solve the elevated lead levels in drinking water.

“As the SFB continues the program through completion of corrective action, we’d like to thank ADEQ for identifying those school buildings with elevated lead levels. It is through great partnerships such as this, that State resources, coupled with community support, can be leveraged to ensure safe learning environments where Arizona children thrive,” said Paul Bakalis, Executive Director of the Arizona School Facilities Board.

About The Arizona Public School Drinking Water Lead Screening Program

To ensure overall success and maximum reach for the screening program, ADEQ and its partners designed the proactive program to best work with and support public school districts’ participation. School faculty and staff were given all the necessary tools and resources to communicate, conduct, track, and provide the screening program information to parents and students at no cost.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) technical guidance specifies 20 parts lead per billion parts water (ppb) as the action level for screening lead in schools. ADEQ chose a more conservative screening level, 15 ppb, which effectively detected an additional 124 fixtures that would have been missed using EPA’s 20 ppb level.

Game and Fish Commission opposes proposed initiative to ban hunting of wild cats

PHOENIX – At its regular December meeting, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission passed a motion in opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats and restrict management of the state’s wild cats by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The proposed initiative has not yet qualified for the ballot, but the Commission regularly takes positions on federal and state legislation with potential impact on the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) and the management of Arizona wildlife. The Commission voted 4-0 “in opposition to the initiative related to wild cats, and to affirm that the department has all the tools necessary to manage our state’s wildlife.”

“I like to describe it as ballot box wildlife management versus scientific management of wildlife,” said Commissioner Kurt Davis, of Phoenix. “This is very dangerous for the ability of our wildlife professionals, our scientists, to effectively manage all the forms of wildlife in the state. It removes management tools that are used by the department and I think that’s a very dangerous path to go down.”

The proposed measure, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), also seeks to protect “lynx,” a species not found in Arizona, and two endangered species already under federal protection, jaguars and ocelots. None of these animals can be legally hunted in Arizona.

For more information on how the Arizona Game and Fish Department manages the state’s large cats, visit: https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/mountainlionsinarizona/

Public Comments sought for Grand Canyon park AZPDES Permit renewal.

PHOENIX – The National Park Service applied for a AZPDES permit renewal for the proposed discharge of up to 0.75 million gallons per day (mgd) of treated domestic wastewater from the South Rim WWTP to Bright Angel Wash in the Colorado-Grand Canyon River Basin in Township 31N, Range 2E, Section 26, in Coconino County, Arizona.

The facility is a federally owned treatment works that receives domestic wastewater from residential and commercial sources in the Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim Village, various visitor facilities, resident staff housing and lodging. Sludge is treated by aerobic digestion and drying beds, then transported by truck to off-site storage lagoons.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Water Quality Division welcomes comments on the AZPDES Permit renewal for Grand Canyon National Park- South Rim WWTP through December 30.

You can review public notices and related documents here.

Comment today on ADOT’s Tentative Long-Range Transportation Plan

The public and agencies across the state have until December 21 to comment on the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Tentative Long-Range Transportation Plan.

The plan, which is updated every five years, outlines strategies for meeting the state’s highway and bridge needs over the next 25 years. The CiviComment online tool, which is available on the project website, allows users to comment on the full report or comment on individual pages pulled from the document. The direct link to CiviComment is whatmovesyouarizona.civicomment.org.

ADOT spent the past two years drafting this update to the Long-Range Transportation Plan, which looks through 2040. The project team conducted stakeholder outreach, gathered extensive public comment across the state and worked through months of technical analysis.

During the 25-year period of this draft plan, about $923 million in annual highway capital funding will be available from state and federal sources. On average, the Phoenix and Tucson regions are expected to receive $512 million annually. Of that, $223 million comes from voter-approved regional programs in those two metropolitan areas dedicated largely to highway expansion. ADOT’s Recommended Investment Choice calls for all of the remaining annual average of $411 million to go toward preserving and modernizing highways in Greater Arizona.

The recommendation outlined in the Tentative Long-Range Transportation Plan is in line with public and stakeholder outreach, in which most participants listed preservation, safety and modernization projects as their highest priorities for Greater Arizona.

The Long-Range Transportation Plan is expected to be finalized in early 2018.

Comments can also be sent to:

ADOT Project Information Line: 1.855.712.8530
Mail:

Long-Range Transportation Plan
c/o ADOT Communications
1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F
Phoenix, AZ 85007

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.