Your voice needed on HCR2040 to save Arizona State Parks

Below is an important action alert about Arizona State Parks from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. This is an important opportunity to save our state parks from closure. Please do your part!

You can also send a quick message through their website.

This bill would add a $9 surcharge onto the annual vehicle registration fees, which would generate enough money to maintain and operate our state park system. In return, Arizona-registered vehicles would be able to enter state parks for free. It’s a good deal, and while I’d love to see the Arizona Legislature fully fund the parks system from the general fund, this appears to be the most politically-viable alternative.

HCR2040 sustainable state parks fund (Jones, Brown, Ch. Campbell, et al) refers to the ballot a measure to allow free day use of all of our State Parks for a fee on every vehicle registration. The funds would be administered by the State Parks Board to operate and maintain parks. With a nine dollar fee, Parks can generate approximately $39 million per year which would provide the necessary dollars for operation and maintenance.

The bill will be heard in the House Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee on Thursday around 2pm in House Hearing Room 5.

PLEASE COME TO THE HEARING, EMAIL LEGISLATORS, SIGN IN ON THE REQUEST TO SPEAK SYSTEM, OR ALL OF THE ABOVE. ASK MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT HCR2040!

Members of the Committee include representatives:

[Click here to email them all at once]

To sign in for Request to Speak, go to http://alistrack.azleg.gov/rts/login.asp and then enter your user name and password (remember this has to be set up at the legislature the first time and I can do that for you, but need for you to let me know what you would like to use for your user name and password). Click on House of Representatives and then hit login. Click on “Agenda Search,” then enter the bill number “HCR2040.” Click on “Begin Search.” You should see HCR2040 come up. Click on “Choose Bill.” You can then click on “for” the bill and indicate whether or not you wish to speak. If you are not going to be there, then you will want to leave it as the default, which is “no.” If you are going to be there, please consider speaking in favor of the bill and click on “yes.” One other thing, the default will be that you are speaking for yourself. If you are not listed as an authorized lobbyist for your organization, then you should just speak on behalf of yourself — that is more effective many times anyway.

Here’s the full text of the bill, as it currently stands:

HCR 2040
1 Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the
2 Senate concurring:
3 1. Under the power of the referendum, as vested in the Legislature,
4 the following measure, relating to a sustainable state parks fund, is enacted
5 to become valid as a law if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the
6 Governor:
7 AN ACT
8 AMENDING TITLE 41, CHAPTER 3, ARTICLE 1.1, ARIZONA REVISED
9 STATUTES, BY ADDING SECTION 41-511.17; RELATING TO THE ARIZONA
10 STATE PARKS BOARD.
11 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
12 Section 1. Title 41, chapter 3, article 1.1, Arizona
13 Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 41-511.17, to
14 read:
15 41-511.17. Sustainable state parks fee; sustainable state
16
17 A. AT THE TIME OF VEHICLE REGISTRATION, EVERY PERSON WHO
18 IS REQUIRED TO REGISTER A MOTOR VEHICLE IN THIS STATE PURSUANT
19 TO SECTION 28-2153 SHALL PAY, IN ADDITION TO THE REGISTRATION
20 FEE, AN ANNUAL SUSTAINABLE STATE PARKS FEE OF NINE DOLLARS.
21 THIS SUBSECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO THE REGISTRATION OF A
22 COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE AS DEFINED IN SECTION 28-601.
23 B. THE REGISTERING OFFICER SHALL COLLECT THE SUSTAINABLE
24 STATE PARKS FEES AND IMMEDIATELY DEPOSIT, PURSUANT TO SECTIONS
25 35-146 AND 35-147, THE FEES IN THE SUSTAINABLE STATE PARKS FUND
26 ESTABLISHED BY SUBSECTION C OF THIS SECTION.
27 C. THE SUSTAINABLE STATE PARKS FUND IS ESTABLISHED
28 CONSISTING OF FEES DEPOSITED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. THE
29 ARIZONA STATE PARKS BOARD SHALL ADMINISTER THE FUND. MONIES IN
30 THE FUND ARE CONTINUOUSLY APPROPRIATED. THE ARIZONA STATE PARKS
31 BOARD SHALL USE THESE MONIES TO OPERATE, MAINTAIN AND MAKE
32 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS TO STATE PARKS.
33 D. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER LAW, THE ARIZONA STATE PARKS
34 BOARD SHALL NOT CHARGE A FEE FOR THE DAY USE OF STATE PARKS TO A
35 MOTOR VEHICLE DISPLAYING A LICENSE PLATE ISSUED PURSUANT TO
36 TITLE 28. THIS SUBSECTION DOES NOT PREVENT THE ARIZONA STATE
37 PARKS BOARD FROM CHARGING A FEE FOR SPECIAL SERVICES, INCLUDING
38 TOURS AND OVERNIGHT CAMPING.
39 2. The Secretary of State shall submit this proposition to the voters
40 at the next general election as provided by article IV, part 1, section 1,
41 Constitution of Arizona.

Free tour of Ironwood Forest National Monument—Mar 20

Ragged Top, Ironwood Forest National Monument

Friends of Ironwood Forest and the Bureau of Land Management invite you to a

Free Tour of the Ironwood Forest National Monument
on Saturday, March 20

Spend a day in one of southern Arizona’s most treasurered landscapes as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Ironwood Forest National Monument. Throughout the tour, BLM speakers and resource specialists will share the history and cultural heritage within the Monument, as well as highlight the diverse vegetation and wildlife surrounding the Ironwood trees, for which the Monument was named. Limited seats available; please register by March 8.

Schedule of activities

Saturday, March 20, 2010
8 a.m. – Meet at Cortaro Rd. & I-10 Park and Ride Lot. Exit 246.
9:30 a.m. – Visit base of Ragged Top
11:30 a.m. – Depart for lunch and desert hike.
12 p.m. – Lunch (Bring your own), then desert hike OR drive to historic Silver Bell Cemetary (45 minute drive).
3:30 p.m. – Arrive at Cortaro Rd. & I-10 Park and Ride.

Directions and transportation

Free transportation from Park & Ride will be provided. From Tucson, take I-10 west. Take exit 246 and turn west (left) at N. Cortaro Rd. Your first right enters into the McDonald’s parking lot and the park and ride.

Register now

Click here to register for this free event. Tour size is limited and filling quickly. [update: the tour is full, but there is a waiting list; you can also ask about additional opportunities to tour the Monument from Lahsha below]

For more information

Lahsha Brown
Friends of Ironwood Forest
lahsha@ironwoodforest.org
520-628-2092

IFNM 10th Anniversary Tour Invitation

Restore a native grassland and an historic trail this weekend

There are two great volunteer opportunities this week in National Conservation Lands here in Arizona. If you have some time, please consider getting involved. Check out the Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona to register.

Las Cienegas NCA Road Closure and Restoration Weekend

Feb 19 – Feb 21

Experience a lush desert grassland just an hour southeast of Tucson in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. We will be out there closing and re-habilitating roads identified by the BLM in the Resource Management Plan for closure.

Work will include using hand tools to break up and re-vegetate the road surface. There are a variety of tasks available from light planting work to heavy lifting and shoveling. Sky Island Alliance will provide the training and materials needed to do the field work. You will need to bring everything you need for 2 days/nights of car camping. Everyone is responsible for his or her own meals and you are welcome to use our stove set up and/or grill. Don’t forget the basics such as food, water, rain gear, tent and a sleeping bag. Another option is just come out to help for one day (Saturday). Please send a response email for further information. Schedule: Friday -meet in camp in the pm, somebody from SIA will be there by 5pm Saturday -work all day, campfire at night Sunday -work through the afternoon and then head home by 2 or 3 pm.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Minimum Age: None
Age Group: All Ages
Max Group Size: 1
Volunteers Needed: 20
Contact Person: Sarah Williams
sarah@skyislandalliance.org 520-624-7080 x23

Historic Anza Trail Restoration in Sonoran Desert National Monument

Feb 20, 2010

Anza Trail Coalition, Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona Wilderness Coalition and the Sierra Club are sponsoring this event to have volunteers restore a portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail that was damaged by off-road vehicle use within Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Volunteers will restore areas damaged by off-road vehicle use. The restoration work will include digging, scraping, and raking to breakup compacted soils and obliterate vehicle tracks. The work requires the use of basic hand tools designed for trail maintenance—Pulaski, McCleod, steel-tined rake, and shovel. Work difficulty ranges from easy to challenging. There will be some native plant relocation activities. Volunteers are advised to wear sturdy shoes and dress appropriately for working outdoors. Please bring work gloves and a water bottle or canteen. There will be campsites available for those to choose to camp. A volunteer information sheet and map are available.

Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Minimum Age: None
Age Group: All Ages
Max Group Size: 10
Volunteers Needed: 50
Contact Person: Thomas Hulen
thom@sonorandesertfriends.org (602) 619-9717

Environmental Day at the Arizona State Capitol: Rally for State Parks on Feb 1

Update: Here’s a quick review of what happened and a pdf fact sheet about the state park cuts.

There’s a very important event happening tomorrow: the annual Environmental Day at the Legislature. This is a great opportunity for citizens to show support for smart conservation policy through direct citizen lobbying. This year, the event will highlight the grave budget cuts to our already decimated state parks system.

Here’s the original Sierra Club announcement:

Save Arizona! Save our Future!
Rally for Parks and Conservation
Environmental Day at the Capitol

Monday, February 1, 2010
10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Arizona House of Representatives lawn
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix

What you’ve heard is true: the legislature is devastating parks funding, forcing more closures. We need to speak up for Parks! Join us on Monday, February 1, 2010 for Environmental Day at the Arizona State Capitol, located at 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix. . We will have a brief program on the House Lawn. Speakers will focus on the devastation to parks and environmental programs from the last legislative session and let us know how we can turn the tide. Please bring a brown bag lunch to enjoy while listening to the speakers. We will provide tables and chairs, drinks, and cookies for dessert. We will try to time it so we can go inside and be introduced from the floor as a group. Let’s try to make a strong showing.

We also encourage everyone to attend committee hearings and meet with individual legislators. Hearings for the House and Senate Natural Resource committees meet that afternoon. The best time to meet with legislators is prior to 11am or after 1pm. We can help you set up appointments, give you information on how to set them up, provide background information, and also team you up with someone, if that is your preference. It is important that they hear from you. No experience is needed – just enthusiasm and a willingness to speak up. For more information or to r.s.v.p. contact Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org Please let us know if you plan to attend, so we can be sure and have enough packets, snacks, and drinks.

If you want to stay abreast of what’s happening at the Arizona Legislature, I highly recommend the Sierra Club’s Arizona Bill Tracker.

Arizona State Parks: What’s open and what’s closing

The Arizona State Parks Board, responding to a budget raid by the Arizona Legislature, voted on Friday to begin the closure of most state parks. It’s a sad and ultimately short-sighted development. There aren’t any easy answers to our budget woes, but this clearly does not sit well for our future.

The Arizona Heritage Alliance, which works diligently to protect the Heritage Fund, posted this excellent summary of what’s still open and what’s closing.

The Arizona State Parks Board voted to keep nine parks open and close the remaining thirteen State Parks in a phased series of closures starting February 22, 2010 due to six different State Parks funds being swept of $8.6 million. In addition, four parks remain closed due to previous budget reductions.

The nine parks that will remain open are ones that generate the most revenue back into the parks operating revolving funds. The parks that will remain open include Buckskin Mountain State Park in Parker, Catalina State Park near Tucson, Cattail Cove State Park in Lake Havasu City, Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area in Show Low, Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson, Lake Havasu State Park, Patagonia Lake State Park and Slide Rock State Park in Sedona.

The remaining parks will be closed in a phased sequence starting on February 22, 2010 and include Homolovi Ruins State Park in Winslow, Lyman Lake State Park in St. Johns, and Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff.

The next park closings will occur on March 29, 2010 and will include Fort Verde State Historic Park in Camp Verde, Roper Lake State Park in Safford, Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.

The final phased closings will occur on June 3, 2010 and will include Tonto Natural Bridge State Park near Payson, Alamo Lake State Park in Wenden, Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction, Picacho Peak State Park, and Red Rock State Park in Sedona.

The remaining parks will continue their agreements with other entities or will be passively managed by an adjacent park. These include Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park in Superior, Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Verde River Greenway State Natural Area, and Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park.

Four parks would remain closed. These include Jerome State Historic Park, McFarland State Historic Park in Florence, Oracle State Park, and San Rafael State Natural Area.

If you haven’t been to any of these parks, note the day and make the effort to get there before they close.

A successful birthday for Agua Fria National Monument

Cutting the Agua Fria National Monument’s 10th birthday cake

I’ve previously mentioned last week’s 10-year anniversary celebration of Agua Fria National Monument (and the National Landscape Conservation System), so I thought I should post an update on how it went.

I spoke with the BLM yesterday and the event wildly surpassed our estimates. We had projected about 500 attendees, but were surprised when more than 2,200 showed up.

2200!

There was a steady stream all day and the giveaways went quickly. Hell, the event programs were gone well before things really got rolling. BLM stopped counting after 800 vehicles. The Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument and the Friends of Sonoran Desert National Monument were both there, along with many other great organizations.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the planning (especially the Friends!), volunteered and performed at the event, and of course, all of you who came out to commemorate the Monument’s birthday. I hope everyone had a blast celebrating one of the state’s coolest places.

Now, check out some of the other celebrations.

We need an America the Beautiful pass for kids

Some of our previous National Park and America the Beautiful passes
Some of our previous National Park and America the Beautiful passes

For the ninth or tenth straight year, Kim and I bought an America the Beautiful Pass (or its predecessors, the National Parks Passport and Golden Eagle Passport). For $80 a year, it’ll get you and your family into every National Park unit and the other federal land management agency lands for free. Given the fabulous list of places that includes, it’s an incredible steal.

Most years, it pays for itself early in a roadtrip. This winter, it only saved us $8. Vicksburg National Military Park, of the 11 total national parks we visited, was the only one1 that charged an entrance fee. Unlike the majority of sites in the West, we’ve noticed that Southern units rarely charge an entrance fee. Even so, we’ll probably break even later this year.

In addition to the regular America the Beautiful pass, there’s also an America the Beautiful Senior Pass, an America the Beautiful Access Pass, and an America the Beautiful Volunteer Pass.

The Senior pass, formerly called the Golden Age Passport, is a one-time $10 (now) $803 fee and covers US citizens ages 62 and up. That’s quite a deal. The Access pass, formerly called the Golden Access Passport, is an even better deal – it’s free for anyone with a permanent disability. Mind you, these passes cover the entrance fee for you (and your family) into any national park for rest of your life. The Volunteer Pass, however, is awarded only after 500 2502 cumulative hours of volunteer work and is good for a single year from that date.

Now, I realize that many seniors and people with disabilities may have limited and/or fixed incomes which make it difficult to enjoy our national treasures. But at the same time, we’re not asking for income tax returns at the entrance station—if your drivers license says you’re 62, you get a lifetime pass…even if you’re Warren Buffett. I understand that getting seniors to the parks is a laudable goal—and that as a voting block, they could be particularly helpful in ensuring adequate park funding.

But I think we’re missing the real opportunity here: getting young kids to the parks. Instead (or rather, in addition to) the existing passes, there should be a youth pass. It should be valid until the age of eighteen and function similarly to the senior pass.

We should call it the Golden Eaglet Pass.

Yes, kids under the age of 16 are already admitted for free. But that’s misleading. If you’re driving to a place like, say, Grand Canyon National Park, you’re going to pay $25 $30 a carload whether or not it contains a 12-year old. But if grandpa was asleep in the back seat, you’d get the entire car in for free.

There are already very compelling reasons for why we need to get kids outside more often – whether it’s combating obesity, connecting them with the wonder of the natural world, or giving them a chance to learn first-hand about our natural and cultural heritage. We all know and agree that it’s important.

We also need them to become lifelong advocates for public lands, helping to ensure that the special places they visited remain for their own children to experience. Providing an incentive for families to make sure that happens is a good idea.

As a final comment, I’d also love to see the volunteer pass dramatically lower its service hours requirement. 500 250 volunteer hours is roughly an entire quarter of full-time work and would be valued at more than $10,000 $5,000. That’s a ridiculously high amount of volunteer time for an $80 pass and essentially ensures that only retirees will meet the requirement in a single year (and hell, they can already get a lifetime pass for $80). That total should be dropped to 50 hours or less. After all we should be doing a better job of rewarding those who donate their time, energy and skill to protecting and interpreting our special places that help make this country great.

Note: You can buy any of these passes (well, except for the youth pass I’ve proposed) at virtually any National Park Service unit that charges a fee, or basically any federal fee area that’s staffed. By the way, the unit at which you buy it receives an additional cut of the fee, so keep that in mind. In the past, we’ve also seen them for sale at REI.

Also, most federal sites have “fee-free days” several weekends a year.

Footnotes:

[back to post] Poverty Point National Monument, while technically a unit of the National Park System, is owned and run by the State of Louisiana and charged its own $2/person entrance fee that’s not covered by the pass.

[back to post] The Volunteer Pass requirements have been dropped to 250 hours, which is still far too high.

[back to post] The National Parks Centennial Act passed in early 2017 is raising the price for the Senior Pass from $10 to $80 for the lifetime pass. Still an amazing deal.

Gathering of the Greens 2009


On Wednesday night, I attended the annual Gathering of the Greens down at the Historic Y building in Tucson. I happened to have several meetings scheduled down there for earlier in the day, and after the prodding of several colleagues, I decided to stick around for at least a bit of the celebration.

I’m glad I did.

The party had lots of good food, drinks, and even branded cups. Best of all, it was great to see so many conservation advocates in one place. I’ve been longing for a stronger conservation community in Phoenix and this event reminded me that I’ve considered organizing a regular (or at least occasional) social event for Valley conservation staff. We need some better opportunities to develop stronger relationships across the conservation community in Phoenix, and the first step in my mind is to get us all sitting down at a table after work. Maybe it’ll be the beginning of something special.

Celebrate the Conservation System in Arizona

It’s been nearly 10 years since the creation of the National Landscape Conservation System – America’s newest system of protected lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. That’s all a mouthful to say that it’s been a decade (and sometimes two) since some of the most interesting, most wild, and mostly-unknown special places in Arizona were set aside to protect our rich natural and cultural heritage.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

I have the pleasure of working daily with many local partners, including the Friends of the Agua Fria National Monument, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Friends of the San Pedro River, Cienega Watershed Partnership, and others, in helping to make sure these treasured places can be enjoyed by future generations.

These are places worth celebrating, and this milestone marks a great opportunity to do much more to ensure the vision of Conservation System is realized. Please join me in celebrating how far we’ve come and in helping us get to where we need to be.

Here’s the listing of activities from the BLM:

The BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) contains some of the West’s most spectacular landscapes. Arizona manages 5 national monuments, 3 national conservation areas, 2 national historic trails, a portion of 1 national scenic trail, 47 wilderness areas and 2 wilderness study areas. These national treasures were designated by Congress or Presidential Proclamation.
We are excited to be hosting a series of events throughout the year and across the state of Arizona to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System. Arizona is rich in areas designated as NLCS units; National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas; National Historic and National Scenic Trails. So take a look, choose one, or more, and celebrate with BLM these treasured landscapes. Landscapes to conserve, protect and restore.

January

January 8, 2010 – 9:00 a.m. – 12:00; 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Presentations

Grand Canyon-Parashant & Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments: A one-day symposium being planned for Friday, January 8, 2010, in St. George, Utah will feature a keynote speaker and managers’ panel to address the history and establishment of the monuments. Other sessions will highlight research and partnerships.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
scott_sticha@blm.gov
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358

January 8, 2010
Black Canyon National Recreation Trail Celebration: The 10th Anniversary Outdoor Fair will be coordinated with the January 8, 2010, Trail/ARRA celebration of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail event, five miles west of the Agua Fria National Monument.

Contact: Rem Hawes, Manager, Agua Fria National Monument
Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027
rem_hawes@blm.gov
623-580-5532

January 9, 2010 – beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Agua Fria National Monument: The BLM will hold a 10th Anniversary event on January 9, 2010, at the scenic Horseshoe Ranch within the national monument. The Friends of Agua Fria will be assisting in planning, preparing for, and conducting the event. The event will include entertainment, speakers, dispersed lectures, displays and visitor booths, offer activities for adults and children.

Contact: Rem Hawes, Manager, Agua Fria National Monument
Hassayampa Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027
rem_hawes@blm.gov
623-580-5532
March

March 20, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Public Tours: BLM staff will visit areas of the IFNM to offer information on the various resources in the monument.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748
mark_lambert@blm.gov
520-258-7242

March 27, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Work Day: Projects being considered include: shooting site cleanup, road repair, buffelgrass removal, and putting up signs.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748
mark_lambert@blm.gov
520-258-7242

Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area: 2010 is the 20th anniversary of the NCA’s designation by Congress through the Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990 as well as the 10th anniversary of the NLCS.
Gila Box Day. A one-day event will be held on a Saturday in March 2010. It will begin with a series of short presentations on natural and cultural history at the SFO conference room. These will cover topics such as archaeology, history, wildlife, native fish, and recreation. Following the talks, the public can then caravan in their own vehicles to the west end of the Gila Box where people can enjoy their own picnic lunches at the Flying W Group Day Use Area. That will be the starting point for a series of walks; participants can chose one that best matches their interest.
Recreation/Cultural Track: A guided 1.5-mile walk on the Cottonwood Trail will include stops at the Kearny Historical Monument, Serna Cabin, and Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area, ending at the Flying W and Riverview Campground.
Wildlife Track: A guided foray along Bonita Creek will focus on birding, beavers, and other wildlife that might be seen in the riparian area. A stop at the Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area and a stroll along the riparian corridor will be included.
Fisheries Track: Participants can visit the Bonita Creek Nonnative Fish Barrier and learn about the nine species of native fish (highest number of any Arizona waterway) that inhabit the creek and BLM’s cooperative efforts to protect them. There will be opportunities to view some fish.
Contact: Diane Drobka, Public Affairs Specialist
Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546
diane_drobka@blm.gov
928-348-4403
May

May 8, 2010
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: The 10th Anniversary of the NLCS will be celebrated on SPRNCA at the San Pedro House in conjunction with International Migratory Bird Day, May 8, 2010. This celebration will focus in on the diversity of these specially designated areas that the BLM manages. Activities will include presentations, displays, and guided and unguided hikes.
June

June 5, 2010
Ironwood Forest National Monument Social Event: A catered, evening social event, potentially at the Heritage Clubhouse in Marana. Short presentations will be aligned to talk about the monument and the NLCS.

Contact: Mark Lambert, Manager, Ironwood Forest National Monument
Tucson Field Office, 12661 E Broadway, Tucson, AZ 85748
mark_lambert@blm.gov
520-258-7242
November

Evening on the Arizona Strip: A closing event the second week in November 2010 would tie into the annual ASIA-sponsored “Evening on the Arizona Strip”. A keynote speaker would be the primary spotlight. The event will likely reflect a pioneer or historic theme as has been a custom of past “Evening” events.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
scott_sticha@blm.gov
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358
Events Without Confirmed Dates

Brown Bag Lunch Education Programs: The Arizona Strip Interpretive Association will hold regularly scheduled brown bag lunch education programs throughout the year, and several will focus on 10th anniversary themes and topics.

Contact: Scott Sticha, Public Affairs Specialist
Arizona Strip District Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790
scott_sticha@blm.gov
435-688-3303/Cell 435-680-0814/Fax 435-688-3358

Wilderness Photo Contest: The Lake Havasu Field Office is considering aphoto contest highlighting wilderness areas of the field office or possibly of the district is under consideration.

Contact: Paul Fuselier, Wilderness Specialist
Lake Havasu Field Office, 2610 Sweetwater Avenue, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86406
paul_fuselier@blm.gov
928-505-1204

National Landscape Conservation System Brown Bag Lunch Seminars in the Safford Field Office: The SFO currently hosts monthly talks throughout the year on a variety of topics related to natural and cultural history. These are open to the public and are well attended. Some have also involved field trips. In 2010, these talks will focus on the National Landscape Conservation System. There are eight NLCS units – six wilderness areas, one wilderness study area, and the Gila Box RNCA – within the SFO boundaries and a multitude of topics that can be featured.

Contact: Diane Drobka, Public Affairs Specialist
Safford Field Office, 711 14th Avenue, Safford, AZ 85546
diane_drobka@blm.gov
928-348-4403

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail:
The Painted Rock Petroglyph Site Campground, about 20 miles northwest of Gila Bend, Arizona, is the site of an anniversary event to be planned to recognize the Anza NHT as part of the NLCS. The event would occur in spring or fall of 2010.

Contacts: Rich Hanson, Manager, Sonoran Desert National Monument
rich_hanson@blm.gov, 623-580-5532
Cheryl Blanchard, Archaeologist, Anza NHT liaison
cheryl_blanchard@blm.gov, 623-580-5676
Lower Sonoran Field Office, 21605 N 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027

There is an additional celebration being planned for Sonoran Desert National Monument, which is tentatively planned for December 4, 2010. I’ll provide additional details when I receive them.

Returning to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

It’s been far too long since I’ve been to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a unit of BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System just west of Las Vegas, Nevada. It holds a special place in my heart as it was one of the first out-of-state destinations that Kim and I went to together. Back in March 1998, we borrowed my dad’s old Cadillac and drove up to Las Vegas for a few days. We didn’t have much money, but Kim hadn’t seen Vegas before and it seemed like it could be a cheap vacation.

We stayed in a cheap Motel 6 just a block off the Vegas Strip, next to the MGM Grand, and spent the first night wandering up and down the Strip looking at the spectacle that is Las Vegas. Since we’re not drinkers or clubbers, and didn’t have any money to waste on slot machines, we simply took in the sights. The next morning, we headed out to a part of Vegas that far fewer see. We drove up to Charleston, turned west, and drove until we found Red Rock Canyon NCA. Red Rocks has some interesting resources and we found ourselves spending much of that day exploring the Calico Hills area. I still remember taking the a much-treasured picture of Kim curled up in an alcove.

After some time exploring that area, we continued along the loop drive, stopping at each turnout to read the signs and snap some more photos. We took a few short hikes before completing the loop drive and heading back to the bright lights of the city for dinner.

While Red Rock Canyon didn’t quickly vault to the top of our must-see-again list, we had a surprisingly good time there. We hadn’t expected to do much hiking at all on the trip, but the visit to RRCNCA and nearby Valley of Fire State Park made the trip uniquely special to me. Not only was it the first time we had ventured out the state together, but we did it on our own terms and managed to stumble upon some really cool places – foreshadowing, I suppose, the wandering National Park roadtrips we’re now known for.

So it was great to stop by and visit – even for a short time and by myself – and reflect on the importance of the site to the last decade of my life. And this time, I won’t let another decade go by before I return.