- Don’t stash away your favorite trout fishing gear -- put it to good use!
- Fall spotlighting effort brings record ferret results
- Highlights from the October Game and Fish Commission meeting
- 3 agencies to manage Horseshoe ranching and collaborate with public to develop plan
- Arizona Wildlife Views television wins top honors at regional Emmys
- Fire damage on Cibola Wildlife Refuge closes Island Unit to hunting access
- Game and Fish partners with Mexico to release black-tailed prairie dogs
- Nov-Dec issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine includes wildlife calendar
- Former commissioner Curtis Jennings passes away
- Forest Service seeks comments on Rosemont Copper Project DEIS
- Public invited to open houses on plan for Glen Canyon Dam operations
Don’t stash away your favorite trout fishing gear -- put it to good use!
Now that summer rainbow fishing is a pine-scented memory, don’t stash away your favorite trout fishing gear – the increasingly popular fall-winter trout stocking season is ramping up in sunny Arizona.
“While anglers across the nation are getting their ice-fishing gear out of hiding, Arizona anglers are blessed with abundant winter fishing opportunities in shirt-sleeve weather that is the envy of shivering anglers across North America’s more snowy environs,” says Rory Aikens, the fishing report editor for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Many of Arizona’s winter trout stockings are located in mid-elevation habitats, several are convenient to metropolitan areas, and there are even some intriguing possibilities along the mighty Colorado River as it winds its way along Arizona’s northern and western borders.
Aikens points out that this month, trout already have been stocked in many of the lakes in the Prescott area and in streams tumbling into the Verde Valley. Trout stockings also began in southern Arizona lakes, such as Parker Canyon, and when the chilly nights of November arrive, more southern waters will be stocked as well. A super fishery to experience is Patagonia Lake with its iconic arched footbridge. Patagonia Lake State Park is also in the heart of Arizona’s wine country.
Goldwater Lake, Fain Lake, Lynx Lake, and Mingus Lake near Prescott have all been stocked with rainbows, and during the second week of November, Watson Lake will get its first trout installment of the winter. “Last year was the first time in decades we were able to stock Watson Lake. It’s really a beautiful fishing location amidst the boulder-balancing countenance of the Granite Dells.”
In the Verde Valley, both Beaver Creek (see picture above) and West Clear Creek are being stocked with trout this week. The remarkable Oak Creek is routinely stocked throughout winter. During the second week of November, Dead Horse Ranch State Park and the Verde River between Cottonwood and Camp Verde will be stocked with feisty rainbows.
“Come sweet November, the fabulous Lower Salt River near Phoenix (see pic on right) will be stocked with rainbows, creating one of the Southwest’s most unique seasonal trout fisheries where bald eagles soar over giant Saguaros and secretive mountain lions sneak down to drink,” Aikens says.
Canyon Lake along the famed Apache Trail is also stocked with trout in winter. This long, thin river-like lake is surrounded by steep canyon walls just made for peregrine falcons and sure-footed bighorn sheep that seem to defy gravity. You might even want to catch a sight-filled ride on the Dolly Steamboat.
“This year, Game and Fish will also stock Apache Lake with trout, adding to the attraction of this remote and wild-like lake where every trip is a scenic adventure you’d expect to see on the pages of Arizona Highways or in a National Geographic TV special,” Aikens advises.
Tempe Town Lake is a perennial trout fishing favorite located near Arizona State University. “Even though it’s smack-dab in the middle of the Valley of the Sun, Town Lake is not part of our urban fishing program – you need a regular state fishing license to angle here,” Aikens advises.
Don’t forget that the urban program lakes are also stocked with trout in winter. There are a lot to choose from, including a unique one in the whispering pines of Payson.
But keep reading – there’s more you’ll want to know about.
“One of my favorite winter trout fisheries of all time is Willow Beach, which sits in the basalt-edged Black Canyon below Hoover Dam,” Aikens says. “Winter is a perfect time to rent a kayak or canoe to fish and explore this rugged desert canyon where geologic time seems to be suspended.”
Farther downstream you’ll also come across another interesting fishery along Casino Row in the Laughlin-Bullhead area.
“Last year, I routinely heard from anglers reeling in huge 6-pound trout from the strong currents of this river racing past glittering casinos where you can indulge in fabulous buffet feasts or catch a flashy show,” Aikens says. “Anglers can get enticingly spoiled fishing here.”
Also last year, anglers in the spectacular Topock Gorge were often treated to fat rainbows on the end of their lines, in addition to line-stripping smallmouth bass. You might even want to visit the Topock Marsh, where you’ll experience migratory waterfowl and visiting shorebirds such as snowy geese and snowy egrets winging across the startingly blue desert skies.
Last but certainly not least is Lees Ferry in northern Arizona between Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon. Winter is traditionally the spawning period for this world-class wild rainbow trout fishery that provides the awe-inspiring gateway to the Grand Canyon.
“These crimson-sided rainbows are so gorgeous they could fit comfortably beside the colorful paintings of Monet and Cezanne hanging in the Musee Du Louvre in Paris. Catching them in the rushing Colorado River along the spectacular red sandstone cliffs of the Marble Canyon Gorge is simply an experience beyond compare,” Aikens promises.
For the full winter trout stocking schedule, visit www.azgfd.gov.
“This is a superb time of year to catch some water-dancing rainbow memories,” Aikens says, “With any luck, maybe I’ll see you out there.”
Fall spotlighting effort brings record ferret results
Black-footed ferret numbers continue to rise
The preliminary results from the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s black-footed ferret fall spotlighting effort continue to show promise for the small, endangered, specialist carnivore.
Game and Fish personnel, along with 99 total volunteers, scoured the Aubrey Valley west of Seligman for five nights. The results broke several records established during the spring effort in March.
During the five nights, a total of 93 ferrets were captured, breaking the previous mark of 78 (this number includes recaptures). Twenty-two captures in one night broke the record of 20 set in the spring of 2011. There were 54 separate individuals captured in the fall and 58 in the spring, bringing the minimum population in Aubrey Valley to 112, shattering the 2010 record of 96.
“There is reason for optimism that the species can be successfully recovered,” said Jeff Corcoran, supervisor at the black-footed ferret reintroduction site. “However, continued monitoring of the population is critical.”
The record-breaking news comes in the same year as the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the last 129 black-footed ferrets in the world and the 15th anniversary of Aubrey Valley being selected as a reintroduction site.
Following the discovery of the last remaining black-footed ferrets in Meeteetse, Wyo., disease outbreak left a mere 18. Those last 18 were captured and captive breeding efforts began in 1985.
In Arizona, the reintroduction effort is funded primarily through the Heritage Fund, and is dependent on volunteer involvement.
“All the ferrets we have today are offspring from those last 18,” Corcoran said. “The fact that we now have a self-sustaining population in Aubrey Valley is a testament to the dedication of Game and Fish personnel and the volunteers. The volunteers play such a critical role in the collection of data.
“It’s no easy task bringing an animal back from the brink of extinction. Without the volunteers and the Heritage Fund, I’m not convinced any of this would have been possible. It’s not easy work, but it is rewarding.”
While the numbers are encouraging, Corcoran believes it is important people understand the difficulty in bringing this animal back from near extinction.
“They have a short life span in the wild and feed primarily on one species: prairie dogs,” he explained. “One disease outbreak can severely impact the population and put us back at square one. That’s why these spotlighting efforts are so critical to the recovery of this animal. If there’s ever a problem, we’ll know quickly and be able to manage the situation.”
For those interested in participating in a future spotlighting effort, contact the ferret field station at email@example.com with “Spotlighting” in the subject line.
Highlights from the October Game and Fish Commission meeting
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 14 at the Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix.
The commission took the following actions:
- Approved an agreement with Bryson Ranch for the purpose of constructing and operating an equestrian trail through a small portion of the Page Springs Fish Hatchery property, Yavapai County, Arizona.
- Approved communication and marketing strategies for the department’s Species and Habitat Conservation Guide and Geospatial Planning Tool, including the adoption of the HabiMap™ logo and public launch timeline.
- Approved that the department pursue acquisition of the Triangle Bar Ranch in Pinal County, Arizona, and associated right-of-way, well use and lease agreements, contingent on approval of trustees for the use of Natural Resource Damage Assessment funds for the purchase of state land grazing and agricultural leases.
- Approved an MOU with Sonoran Solar Energy Company for research activities associated with solar development projects.
- Approved amending Commission Order 40 - fish, bag and possession limits for trout, catfish, bass and sunfish at Council Park Pond for 2011 and 2012.
- Approved the Aquatic Invasive Species Notice of Final Rulemaking and Economic Impact Statement adopting Article 11 and amending affected rules within Article 4 and 5.
- Approved the Notice of Docket Opening, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Economic Impact Statement amending R12-4-121 addressing big game tag transfers.
- Approved the Notice of Docket Opening, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Economic Impact Statement amending R12-4-202 (Disabled Veteran’s License).
- Approved the Notice of Exempt Rulemaking to amend R12-4-304 addressing lawful methods of take to implement HB 2396 (Game and Fish; Trophies; Enforcement).
The commission also conducted hearings on license revocations for violations of Game and Fish codes and civil assessments for the illegal taking and/or possession of wildlife, and was provided with updates on legislative, shooting sports, information/education, wildlife recreation, lands and habitat program, and law enforcement program activities.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission is comprised of five members (serving staggered five-year terms) appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. No more than one commissioner may be from any one county. No more than three may be from the same political party. The commission is the policy-setting board overseeing the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Since its inception in 1929, this organizational structure has served as a buffer for the best interests of science-driven wildlife conservation during eight decades of back-and-forth political change.
3 agencies to manage Horseshoe ranching and collaborate with public to develop plan
Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Tonto National Forest (TNF) officials are soliciting public input on managing approximately 70,000 acres of federal lands associated with the Horseshoe Ranch.
The Horseshoe Ranch, which was recently acquired by AGFD, is located south of Cordes Junction and east of I-17 in the Bloody Basin area.
This management area is split between the Horseshoe allotment on the BLM-managed Agua Fria National Monument and the Copper Creek allotment in the Cave Creek Ranger District of the TNF. The three agencies have entered into an agreement concerning the management of the Horseshoe Ranch grazing allotments.
A public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2, starting at 6 p.m. at the Albins Community Center in Black Canyon City, 19055 East K-Mine Road.
Field trips to the Horseshoe Ranch area are scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8 and Wednesday, Nov. 9. Details of the field trips will be provided at the public meeting.
For further information please contact:
- Pat Crouch, Arizona Game and Fish Department, (480) 981-9400, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Louise Congdon, Tonto National Forest, (480) 595-3300, email@example.com.
- Rem Hawes, BLM Agua Fria National Monument, (623) 580-5532, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arizona Wildlife Views television wins top honors at regional Emmys
Arizona Wildlife Views producers Carol Lynde and Gary Schafer took home the Emmy Award for Environmental Program from the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on Oct. 15 in Phoenix.
The winning program featured several stories highlighting the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s commitment to conserve wildlife and habitat in Arizona:
Sonoran Pronghorn Release – Endangered Sonoran pronghorn, raised as part of a captive breeding program in Southern Arizona, are released into the wild.
Lucero – A rare jaguar from Northern Mexico is brought to Phoenix for medical treatment.
Harris’ Hawks – A family of Harris’ Hawks decides to build a nest and raise its young in the middle of a Scottsdale neighborhood.
AZGFD Mission – The mission of Arizona Game and Fish is to conserve and enhance all wildlife in Arizona, and that’s not all.
Arizona Wildlife Views is a 13-week, half-hour program that airs on PBS stations in Tucson and Phoenix as well as city cable channels statewide. The show is produced by the Information Branch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Segments from the show can also be found on the Department’s website: www.azgfd.gov/video.
The Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Television Academy of Arts and Sciences is dedicated to advancing the art and science of television and honoring excellence in work through the prestigious Emmy® Awards. The Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter represents television professionals from all disciplines of the industry, serving a region that includes Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and El Centro, California.
Fire damage on Cibola Wildlife Refuge closes Island Unit to hunting access
Duck hunters are advised that, due to the recent wildfire on the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge along the lower Colorado River in southwestern Arizona, the Island Unit is closed until further notice.
The wildfire, which began on Aug. 28, 2011, burned the Island Unit (Arizona and California sides), destroying culverts, irrigation gates, roads and wildlife habitat within the area. Due to unsafe conditions created by unstable roads and existing hot spots, the area has been closed to all public access. The closure includes access for all hunting activities on the Island Unit. Arizona’s “desert zone” duck hunting season starts Oct. 21, 2011.
The Farm Unit did not burn, so the goose hunt should be unaffected.
The Cibola Juniors Waterfowl Hunt, originally scheduled for December, has been cancelled for this year.
According to a news release issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the refuge is in the process of replacing damaged infrastructure and restoring valuable wildlife habitat. Once full rehabilitation is complete, the Island Unit will be reopened.
For more information, visit http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/CibolaNWR/.
Game and Fish partners with Mexico to release black-tailed prairie dogs
For the first time, biologists released black-tailed prairie dogs from Mexico in a larger effort to recover the species that was missing from Arizona’s landscape for nearly 50 years.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department and Mexico’s Comisiòn de Ecología y Desarrollo Sustenable del Estado de Sonora (CEDES) released 60 black-tailed prairie dogs last week to three existing sites in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area to bring genetic diversity to existing colonies. The animals came from colonies in Sonora, Mexico that had first been studied to ensure the population numbers were adequate, and the population was stable.
Acclimation cages were used to prevent the animals from dispersing too quickly upon release and to allow them to adjust to their new environment. In time, the animals burrow themselves out of the acclimation cages and are free to establish an underground network of tunnels.
Black-tailed prairie dogs are a critical keystone species and one of Arizona's two native prairie dog species. The other species, which is found in northern Arizona, is the Gunnison’s prairie dog. Historically, the black-tailed prairie dog was the most widely distributed of the five prairie dog species and were commonly found in southeastern Arizona. Human-related factors, including poisoning and habitat fragmentation, greatly reduced their numbers range-wide over the last 150 years.
The species provides many benefits to the habitat where they live. Their burrows allow water to penetrate the ground and return to the watershed or aquifer. The animals’ foraging habits increase plant species diversity and the nutritional value of the plants for other foraging animals. Their colonies have also historically served as fire breaks.
November-December issue of Arizona Wildlife Views magazine includes wildlife calendar
Don’t miss the November–December 2011 issue of the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s award-winning magazine, Arizona Wildlife Views. This special publication will include the 2012 Arizona wildlife calendar, featuring winners of this year’s photo contest.
A herd of deer in the soft light at dusk, an inquisitive owl and a bat in flight are among this year’s selections. Show your appreciation for Arizona wildlife and fine photography: Subscribe or renew your subscription today for just $8.50, to be sure you don’t miss this year’s calendar issue!
To subscribe or renew, visit http://www.azgfd.gov/i_e/pubs/awv_magazine.shtml.
Former commissioner Curtis Jennings passes away
Curtis A. Jennings, who served on the Arizona Game and Fish Commission from 1982-86 and was commission chairman in 1985, passed away on Oct. 7, 2011, at the age of 76.
Mr. Jennings, a fourth-generation native of Arizona, practiced law for 50 years as a name partner at the firm Jennings, Haug & Cunningham. He served in the U.S. Army and Arizona National Guard, attaining the rank of brigadier general. He was also a founding fellow of the Arizona Bar Foundation and was a long-time member of Phoenix Rotary 100 and Arizona Town Hall.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Jennings’ family.
Forest Service seeks comments on Rosemont Copper Project DEIS
Public meetings to be held beginning Nov. 12
The following information is from a U.S. Forest Service news release. The Coronado National Forest will soon be accepting public comments on the Rosemont Copper Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The 90-day comment period is expected to begin on or around Oct. 22, following publication of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Notice of Availability of the DEIS in the Federal Register.
The DEIS is available online at www.RosemontEIS.us. Citizens are encouraged to read the DEIS before submitting comments. Although comments may be submitted in many ways (see below), citizens need only provide comments once for them to receive full consideration.
A series of public meetings will be held between November 2011 and January 2012. Each meeting will include informational sessions and comment sessions, during which oral statements will be recorded. The meeting schedule is:
- Nov. 12, 2011, 1-5 p.m.
Palo Verde High School, 1302 S. Avenida Vega, Tucson
- Nov. 19, 2011, 1-5 p.m.
Empire High School, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way, Tucson
- Dec. 7, 2011, 5:30-8 p.m.
Benson High School, 360 S. Patagonia Street, Benson
- Dec. 10, 2011, 1-5 p.m.
Elgin Elementary School, 23 Elgin Rd., Elgin
Two additional meetings that had been scheduled in Sahuarita will be rescheduled due to conflicts; updated information will be posted at http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/.
Citizens do not need to be present at any meetings to comment on the DEIS. Requirements for commenting may be found at 36 Code of Federal Regulations Part 215.
For those who don’t submit comments at the public meetings, they can also be submitted in one of several ways:
- Oral comments will be accepted by telephone by calling (888) 654-6646.
- Comments may be submitted electronically on the project website at www.RosemontEIS.us by following the link to “Commenting on the DEIS”.
- Comments may be emailed to CoronadoNF@RosemontEIS.us . Emailed comments should identify “Rosemont Copper Project DEIS” in the subject line with attachments in Microsoft Word (.docx), rich-text format (.rtf), or portable document format (.pdf).
- Comments may be sent via U.S. mail to: Rosemont Comments, P.O. Box 4207, Logan, UT 84323.
- Comments may be FAXed to the attention of “Rosemont Copper Project DEIS” at (435) 750-8799.
The comments most useful for the Environmental Impact Statement process should be directly related to issues associated with the alternatives described in the DEIS, rather than general advocacy for or opposition to the project. For questions or special needs regarding the public meetings or the comment period, the public may call (520) 388-8300 voice or (520) 388-8304 TTY.
Questions about the EIS process should be directed to Ms. Andrea Campbell, Forest NEPA Coordinator, at 300 W. Congress St., Tucson, AZ 85701, or by telephone at (520) 388-8300. Additional information about the proposed Rosemont Copper Project will be available online at www.RosemontEIS.us.
Public invited to open houses on plan for Glen Canyon Dam operations
The following information is from a news release issued by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and the National Park Service (NPS). BOR and NPS will jointly hold a series of public meetings in November on the development of a long-term plan that will determine the timing and volume of water flows from Glen Canyon Dam. Those flows affect hydroelectricity production, beach recreation, native fish and other river-related plants and animals, as well as archeological sites in Grand Canyon National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The long-term plan will address routine operations as well as “experimental” flows that provide additional scientific information about how to protect endangered fish and lessen the effects of dam operations on downstream ecology and other resources. The plan will ensure that regulated flows on the Colorado River meet the goals of supplying hydroelectricity and water for communities, agriculture and industry at the same time they protect the ecologies of the Grand Canyon and Glen Canyon.
The meetings will be held at the following locations and dates:
- Phoenix: Monday, Nov. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., Sheraton Crescent Hotel, 2620 W. Dunlap Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85201.
- Flagstaff: Tuesday, Nov. 8, 6 to 8 p.m., Radisson Woodlands Hotel Flagstaff, 1175 W. Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.
- Page: Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6 to 8 p.m., Courtyard Page at Lake Powell, 600 Clubhouse Drive, Page, AZ 86040.
- Salt Lake City, Utah: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., Hilton Salt Lake City Center, 255 South West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101.
- Las Vegas, Nevada: Wednesday, Nov. 16, 6 to 8 p.m., Ramada Las Vegas, 325 East Flamingo Road, Las Vegas, NV 89169.
- Lakewood, Colorado: Thursday, Nov. 17, 6 to 8 p.m., Sheraton Denver West Hotel, 360 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, CO 80228.
- Web-based meeting: Tuesday, Nov. 15, 1 to 3 p.m. Mountain Time. For specific information about the web-based meeting and how to participate, please refer to the project website at: http://ltempeis.anl.gov.
Work on the new plan, known as the Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP), is the first comprehensive review of Glen Canyon Dam operations in 15 years. The purpose of the LTEMP is to use current and newly developed science to improve and protect resources of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Canyon National Park, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area while also complying with the Law of the River, the 1992 Grand Canyon Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other applicable laws.
According to the news release, the LTEMP process will determine the need for future modifications to Glen Canyon Dam operations, and whether to establish an Endangered Species Act Recovery Implementation Program for endangered fish species below Glen Canyon Dam.
Changes to dam operations and other actions taken by the Department of the Interior (DOI) will be evaluated as “alternatives” in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will document and evaluate impacts of the alternatives.
The public meetings are part of the “public scoping” phase of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Public scoping gives interested individuals and groups the opportunity to comment on a proposed action, recommend alternatives, and to identify and prioritize the issues to be considered in the EIS analyses. Scoping is the earliest, but not the last, opportunity for people to provide input on the Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP EIS.
Each public scoping meeting will include a project overview session (15 minutes) and opportunities for the public to review exhibits, informally discuss issues, and ask questions of technical experts and managers. More information on the meetings will be announced through local media, newsletters, and the project web site: http://ltempeis.anl.gov.
The public can submit comments by the following methods:
- Website: http://ltempeis.anl.gov. (the preferred method)
- Mail: Glen Canyon LTEMP EIS Scoping, Argonne National Laboratory, EVS/240, 9700 S. Cass Avenue, Argonne, IL 60439.
BOR and NPS will accept comments that are received or postmarked by Friday, Dec. 30, 2011.