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Arizona Wildlife Federation Blog


  • September 24, 2022 10:00 AM | Elise Lange (Administrator)

    Each year at AWF, we celebrate National Public Lands Day (NPLD) as well as our state's own recognized Public Lands Day (look out for April!). However, a lot of people don't know the history of the day or why it's so important.

    The day was originally established in 1994, making this year its 28th Year of being celebrated. NPLD celebrates that wonderful connection that people make with nature and is led by the National Environmental Education Foundation, in partnership with the National Park Service and other federal agencies.

    In 1994, there were roughly 700 volunteers and just by 2010, that number grew to 170,000 at over 2,000 different sites in the U.S. What can we say? People love nature! 

    A highlight in the history of NPLD was 2008, when participants hoped to plant 1 million trees for the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps. They ended up planting over 1.6 million trees, far exceeding their goal.

    Every year on NPLD, amazing people from around the U.S. help support public lands through restoration efforts of national forests, clean-ups of urban green spaces, and simply enjoying the abundant public lands we have.

    In Arizona, we are lucky to have just over 30 million acres of federal public lands — that's a lot of land to hike through!

    So what should you do on NPLD?

    Get this...you can visit national parks for free! Consider spending some time enjoying the national parks and forests in Arizona. You may even catch a glimpse of mule or White-tailed Deer, migratory bird species like the Rufous Hummingbird or Cedar Waxwing, or lovely butterflies feeding on milkweed.


    Many people also take part in a volunteer work project to help support conservation efforts in their area. You can visit the National Park Services website to find events in your state: https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/volunteerevents.htm

    Finally, if you're still unsure of what you want to do, choose your own adventure for NPLD!


  • September 21, 2022 4:47 PM | Elise Lange (Administrator)

    I’ve lived in Arizona my whole life, so naturally I’ve gained an appreciation for the wildlife, wild places, and yes, even the weather we have here. I’m not ashamed to admit I actually like the heat! When I was growing up, my dad took every opportunity to drag me up to Big Lake and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Roosevelt Lake, Saguaro Lake, and our own designated “Billy” Camp, named after my dad’s first hunting dog. 


    I was hiking in the desert or wandering around a rocky lakeshore almost every weekend from ages 6-13, and I both loved and hated it. Like so many children today, I loved being outside, but also longed to sleep in, stay home, and watch my tv shows or play on the computer — though back then, my computer was a huge, hulking machine that I shared with my family. Naturally, as I grew older, when my dad would ask me to go camping, hunting, fishing, or hiking with him, I chose to stay home. What could I have possibly been missing?

    I drew away from the wilds of Arizona and it’s one of my biggest regrets in life.

    Despite that loss, I somehow managed to pursue Biology in college. All around me were students who were hiking, rock climbing, and knew a million facts about Arizona wildlife and the state of water conservation. I felt like I knew nothing.

    Four years later, I signed up for a bird identification class without the slightest idea of how it would change the trajectory of my life.

    The first birding trip I went on was in Tempe, Arizona. One would assume that trip would be pretty dull. What could I have possibly seen other than a pigeon, dove, or European Starling? This is the first list of birds I found and identified on that trip in Tempe:


    It’s so easy to forget how diverse wildlife in Arizona is, and it’s especially easy to forget that when living in a paved, developed, vehicle-filled landscape. Seeing all of those birds, learning their names, and hearing their different calls spoke to me. The city is not dead — it’s alive and filled with so many different species that we share Arizona with.


    Green Heron seen in Kiwanis Park, Tempe.

    When I started birding in less urban landscapes that were less than an hour away, like the Glendale Recharge Ponds, my list of birds grew:


    It’s my greatest belief now that you can, and should, appreciate nature wherever you are coming from. Even if you live in the city, there’s always an animal or plant you can identify. When you explore wilder areas, your knowledge will only grow, and in my opinion, make you appreciate what lives in the city even more. The fact that those city wildlife manage to survive and even thrive makes them all the more wonderful. 

    The more aware you are of the wonderful wildlife around you, the greater your appreciation for nature, life, and Arizona’s beauty will be.

    This Saturday is National Public Lands Day, a day dedicated to the enjoyment and celebration of our public lands, where so much wildlife lives. How will you appreciate nature on the 24th?



  • September 09, 2022 10:04 AM | Elise Lange (Administrator)

    Author: Michael Cravens

    I’ve been accused of being a little intense, maybe even a little obsessive, and I certainly can’t deny it. My whole life I’ve taken my interests to the extreme. Growing up, these interests varied but really only within the context of the outdoors and the wild animals found there. As a child, while other kids were playing sports, I was out catching snakes and hunting squirrels in the fields and forests near my Ozark home.


    Later on, once freed of the watchful eye of my mother, I would go on to search for wildlife and adventure throughout this country and abroad. Nature, and all that comes with it, has been an all-encompassing journey throughout my entire life and little has changed today. Well, little might be an understatement. Somehow, between all my tromping around in the wilderness, I managed to meet the woman of my dreams. This woman, despite her being completely normal and un-obsessive, became my wife. Together, we made the two most amazing little children I could have ever imagined. How I lucked into this amazing family will forever be a mystery to me and I can honestly say that a day doesn’t go by that in not in awe of it all. In fact, the intense love I have for my family is the only thing that has ever rivaled my love of the great outdoors.

    So, here I am, living my dream life. It’s true, I am, but its not without some serious conflict. You see, while I am absolutely crazy about my family, I never really shook that pesky obsession with the great outdoors. I would say that I need my time in the outdoors but that might sound like an excuse so I won’t say it. Let’s just say that my time spent pursuing game and fish is very… VERY… important to me. Of course, this is real life, grown up life, the rat race. We have bills to pay, children to feed, and a relationship to nurture. How does one do it all and still find the time that’s necessary to fill the freezer? If you find out, please let me know because I’m really struggling here. In the meantime, though, here’s a few things I’ve learned that might help smooth the way with the family and maximize your time in the outdoors.

    Communication

    It never fails, I’ll be driving home from a multiday hunt, call my wife and, in the excitement of telling her all about it, I’ll get carried away and start planning my next hunt. I’ve always done this. I get so high on the experience that I just had that I can’t help but to start looking forward to the next one. To me, this is just harmless excitement but, to my wife, this sends a very different message. All she hears is that rather than being excited to come home and be with her and our children, all I care about is the next time I can get back to the mountains and away from them. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. My wife and my children are always on my mind when I’m away and I miss them dearly. Fortunately, one thing we do well, despite my occasional thoughtlessness, is communicate well. Without this, I wouldn’t get to spend half of the time hunting and angling that I do. We talk about our feelings freely and often. This comes naturally to us and therefore it usually doesn’t take too long to smooth out a thoughtless and misplaced comment. For others though, who might not so freely air out their grievances, thoughtful communication is all the more important. A thoughtless and misplaced comment could fester for a long time and cause much resentment between your partner, you, and your time outdoors. Make it a point to work on your communication with your partner. Think about what you want to say before saying it and think about how it will be received. This sounds easy enough but it’s really not. Good communication takes practice and thought. Learn to communicate well and often and you might not just end up with more time outdoors but also maybe a better relationship to boot.

    Planning

    My wife would laugh at me if she knew I was offering advise on planning to others. She has described me like in the likeness of a dog. Not necessarily in derogatory terms either. Rather in the sense that I live in the moment. I don’t dwell much on what happened yesterday and I don’t worry much about what’s happening tomorrow. While there are some obvious responsibility repercussions that come with this, she at least appreciates that I’m generally happy… much like a dog. I’m a generalist hunter, meaning I get equally excited about hunting squirrels as I do elk as I do ducks, and when summer rolls around there are trout waiting to have a fly cast to them. That’s not only a lot to fit into a calendar, it’s also a lot to ask of a partner. One thing that helps is to make good plans and communicate them to your partner (there’s that communication thing again). My wife and I both work full time and have two small children and, while I’d love to drop everything and run to the mountains every time a buddy calls or I just get excited about another opener, it’s simply not realistic or, for that matter, fair to my wife. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get to take every trip you want to, planning your season out to the best of your abilities, with your partners needs in mind, will unquestionably get you into the woods much more often.

    Love Language

    In full disclosure, I’m stealing this directly from the book, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. If you haven’t already, get this book and read it with your partner. It’s positive implications to your relationship will go far beyond benefiting your hunting and angling time. In short, learn what your partners love language is and make sure you’re speaking it. My wife’s love language is quality time spent together. In contrast, my love language is physical touch. All I need is a hug and a kiss and I’m good to go for a week alone in the wilderness. For my wife, this is far from the case. When first presented with this scenario, I mistakenly though that since we shared the same roof, we spent all the time together that was necessary. It took a deeper dive and deeper thought for me to understand that spending undistracted quality time with her was how she felt loved. Fortunately, I like my wife and spending time with her isn’t hard for me but that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy for me to get out of my own head and put my focus directly on her. This takes effort and is something that I have to stay continually mindful of. When your partner feels fully and completely loved your time away from them all of the sudden becomes free of jealous, hurt, or otherwise bad feelings that lead to strife and unrest in your relationship.

    It’s a Family Affair

    I had children for one reason, to create little partners to share outdoor adventures with. While I’m kidding, this isn’t completely untrue. Sharing my love of wild places and wildlife was one of my most exciting thoughts when thinking of having children. As it turns out, I had a lot to be excited about. My boy (seven) and my girl (five) have turned out to be better partners in the field and on the water than I ever dreamt. Of course, they never really stood a chance as I’ve been dragging them around the countryside since they were just babies. My little boy will fish all day without even a bite and not loose interest and my little girl will hike with me all day long following around our German short-haired pointer in search of birds. My wife, while not sharing my interest in hunting and angling, is a very enthusiastic hiker, backpacker, and camper and is at her happiest when we are all together as a family in the outdoors. All of this presents limitless opportunities for me to include my family in my outdoor pursuits. Of course, while there are times when I still value the solitude that only a solo multi-day backpack hunt can provide, I have come to equally enjoy trips with my family in tow. We might have to go a little slower and I might have to spend more time that I care to untangling flies from tree branches and bushes but, somehow, it’s all okay. There’s some strange magic at work here that can’t be put to words and can only be understood through the experience. While hunting and fishing trips can cause a lot of friction in a relationship through time spent apart, under the right circumstances, they can also provide the setting to build and strengthen those same relationships. Heck, my wife and I have even pulled off a romantic overnight backpacking ‘date night’ that doubled as a scouting trip.

    All of this is not meant to come across as a set of instructions that have been proven by someone who’s figured it all out. Also, this is not meant as a technique to manipulate your partner. This is about mutual respect and comes from years of struggle and communication with my wife. Still, my relentless (some might say obsessive) pushing to be out hunting or angling every chance I get is still our biggest argument. The difference is, what once was a severe point of contention and damaging to our relationship is now just an argument that can be worked through with communication and respect for each other’s feelings. Everyone’s situation is going be different. Some really struggle with communication and sharing their feelings, some, like me, are just terrible planners, some have no idea how to speak their partners love language, and some partners and children simply abhor everything about the outdoors. Still, by being mindful of and working at the ideas laid out here, there is a good chance you’ll end up with more time in the field and, even if you don’t, I promise you’ll find yourself in a healthier and happier relationship.


  • September 01, 2022 2:34 PM | Elise Lange (Administrator)

    It’s almost been a year since the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, along with 22 other plants and animals, was officially declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Destruction of their forest habitat largely caused the decline. Birders and conservationists around the world mourned the announcement. The loss of the third largest woodpecker in the world rang through the hearts of those passionate about wildlife and sparked a fearful feeling that more animals and plants — and especially birds — would become extinct because of human activity. In Arizona, we are particularly concerned about the loss of wildlife due to our 20+ year drought, the continual decline of the Colorado River, the ever-rising temperatures, and habitat loss.


    Our species are well-adapted to the heat, whether it’s pooping on their feet to keep cool (shout-out to Turkey Vultures) or hiding in saguaros. However, there’s still concern about how well Arizona animals and plants will continue to adapt to increasing temperatures and decreasing water. That harsh environment and harmful human activity have contributed to the loss and fragmentation of habitats. 

    One bird species in Arizona that is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Bird of Conservation Concern is the Burrowing Owl. I have had the chance to see a nest site with four Burrowing Owls in it only once — it was an incredible sight! 

    The main reason for the decline of Burrowing Owl populations here is habitat loss. As cities like Phoenix grow, the unfortunate result is the displacement of owls and the decrease in good habitats for them. However, something that many Arizonans don’t know is that land and wildlife managers are working to create artificial burrowing sites. Conservation groups and Non-Profit organizations across Arizona are working to protect Burrowing Owls and to help relocate them after displacement. 

    Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will further protect species in Arizona like the Burrowing Owl, the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy owl, Apache Trout, and Black-footed Ferret. Read more about Recovering America's Wildlife Act here to see how you can help.


    Declaring a species extinct is no easy task — even now people report sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. An even more difficult task, however, is in deciding when to move on from an extinct species and begin helping those of greatest conservation need.


    To read more about the other Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Arizona, visit https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/speciesofgreatestconservneed/.


  • June 17, 2021 1:56 PM | Nikki Julien

    Arizona Wildlife Federation’s Becoming and Outdoors-Woman Program to be Inducted into the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame

    The Wildlife for Tomorrow Foundation and the Arizona Game and Fish Department will honor this deserving and outstanding program and its coordinators for their contributions to Arizona’s natural outdoor conservation on August 21, 2021 at the Wigwam Resort, Litchfield Park.

    Arizona Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW)

    Sponsored by the Arizona Wildlife Federation, the Arizona Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program (also known as BOW) began more than 25 years ago. The program is part of the national Becoming an Outdoors-Woman program started by Christine Thomas, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Resource Management at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 1991. Arizona BOW events are held four times per year in various locations around the state and are designed to give women age 18 and older the opportunity to learn outdoor skills in a sage and supportive environment conducive to learning, making friends, and having fun.

    Using elements of the national curriculum with adaptations for Arizona, the workshops offer classes such as hiking, fishing, hunting, shooting and archery, outdoor cooking, GPS, wilderness survival, rappelling, birding, camping, nature relaxation and much more. Evening entertainment and campfires round out the outdoor experience.

    Coordinators Linda Dightmon, of Payson, and Kathy Greene, of Tucson, make the BOW camps happen and have constantly improved BOW over the years. They and a team of dedicated volunteers, including Mark Hullinger, of Heber, one of the original founders of BOW, provide a mix of over 50 classes developed and taught by volunteer instructors at BOW camps.

    COVID-19 limited camp opportunities in 2020, but events are back in full swing and ready to connect women to outdoor skills. Upcoming events include a one-day workshop on July 17 in Flagstaff and a three-day, two night camp in Prescott, September 10-12, 2021. Scholarships are available to open the experience to underserved women. Information and registration, including two videos featuring activities and coordinators, Linda and Kathy, provide a great background about the program: https://azwildlife.org/BOW

    To buy tickets to the Wildlife for Tomorrow Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame Award Ceremony, visit: https://www.wildlifefortomorrow.org/halloffame


  • June 12, 2021 1:57 PM | Nikki Julien
    • Anna Groover

    RESTON, Va. – The National Wildlife Federation honored Brad Powell, board president of the Arizona Wildlife Federation, with its Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award. The award celebrates Powell’s success growing the Arizona Wildlife Federation’s capacity and influence in the region and his leadership in redesigning how affiliates collaborate to achieve the Federation’s shared conservation goals.

    “Brad has spent his career developing and marshaling relationships with everyone from hunters and anglers to congressional leaders and strengthening the Federation’s institutions so that we can achieve substantive victories for wildlife, land, waters, and people,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “With a command of the challenges and issues the Federation faces, Brad has set the national agenda for our advocacy in the years to come and continues to work tirelessly in Arizona to see this vision become a reality.”

    “It’s a great honor to receive the Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership award. There is no higher honor than to be recognized by your peers for work that you are truly passionate about,” said Powell.  “Cooperation and strong partnerships are essential for organizations like the Arizona Wildlife Federation, the National Wildlife Federation, and its affiliate family to achieve long-term success in wildlife conservation.”

    While at Arizona Wildlife Federation, Powell has grown the organization’s capacity from one part-time staff member to multiple full-time staff members and a significant annual budget. In addition to establishing Arizona Wildlife Federation as a regional conservation authority, Powell helped develop the National Wildlife Federation’s strategic plan, increasing affiliate capacity, effectiveness, and coordination across national and regional conservation issues. Powell also co-chaired the Federation’s Hunter/Angler Working Group, which convenes sporting affiliates to draft Federation-wide policy resolutions on sporting matters. 

    The Charlie Shaw Conservation Partnership Award honors individuals who have demonstrated a true appreciation for the value and potential of the National Wildlife Federation-affiliate partnership. Powell was honored during the National Wildlife Federation’s annual meeting and 85th anniversary celebration, which was held for the second time as a virtual event this year.

    This special achievement award was created in Charlie Shaw’s memory to honor individuals whose actions reflect the spirit of his work — first as executive director of North Carolina Wildlife Federation and later as a National Wildlife Federation regional executive. Shaw loved the National Wildlife Federation. In his eyes, the Federation was not simply a relationship between “national” and each affiliate partner. Shaw rightly saw one big family — many different conservationists all working together toward the goal of protecting wildlife and habitat.

    The National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Awards began in 1966. Since then, the National Wildlife Federation has celebrated individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting wildlife through education, advocacy, communication and on-the-ground conservation. Previous honorees have included former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson and Michelle Obama and other national leaders, including U.S. Sen. John McCain and filmmaker Robert Redford.

    https://www.nwf.org/Latest-News/Press-Releases/2021/6-12-21-Charlie-Shaw-Award-Brad-Powell


  • April 22, 2021 2:14 PM | Nikki Julien

    PHOENIX (April 22, 2021) — The Arizona Wildlife Federation commends the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management, overseeing more than 245 million acres of public lands. Stone-Manning is a Westerner who has spent much of her career working on public lands issues. She currently serves as the senior advisor for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation.

    “I can think of no finer person to steward our public lands than Tracy Stone-Manning. As an avid hunter, backpacker and lifelong conservationist, she has a deep and abiding love for our nation’s lands and waters. Her tireless work, both as a public servant in Montana and then at the National Wildlife Federation, has ensured that our public lands are sustainably managed for the benefit of all users. The Arizona Wildlife Federation looks forward to working with her to make sure our lands – and the people and wildlife that depend on them – will continue to thrive for future generations,” said Scott Garlid, executive director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation.

    Stone-Manning joined the National Wildlife Federation in 2017 to lead its public lands program and was promoted last winter to senior advisor for conservation policy. Before joining the Federation, she served as Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s chief of staff, where she oversaw day-to-day operations of his cabinet and the state’s 11,000 employees. She stepped into that post after serving as the director of the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, overseeing the state’s water, air, mining and remediation programs. She served as a regional director and senior advisor to Senator Jon Tester during his first term, focusing on forestry issues. Early in her career, she led the Clark Fork Coalition, a regional conservation group, as it advocated successfully for Superfund cleanups that created thousands of jobs and revitalized a river. The group also co-owned and managed a cattle ranch in the heart of the Superfund site.  

    Raised in a big, Navy family — her dad commanded a submarine — she was guided into public service from childhood. She is a backpacker, hunter and singer, and has been married to the writer Richard Manning for 30 years. She lives in Missoula, Montana and holds a M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana and an B.A. from the University of Maryland. She started her career as an intern with the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C. in 1987.

     

    ###

    Contact: Scott Garlid, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Scott@AZWildlife.org, 480-487-4663 

  • April 05, 2021 8:36 PM | Nikki Julien

    Arizona Interfaith Power and Light and the Arizona Wildlife Federation invite you to learn how you can help support Monarch Butterflies and other native species in your own backyard. A panel of experts will share the current issues facing Monarchs in the Southwest, and what we as individuals, congregations and communities can do to try to ameliorate habitat loss in both the mountain and desert climates of Arizona. While we work to address the forces that erode the health of our planet overall, come learn what we can do individually and together to make a difference for this majestic species right now. Our speakers include Gail Morris, Monarch Watch Conservation Specialist, and Arizona Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists from the desert and the high country.


    Watch the recording!

    Resources for Helping Monarch Butterflies in Arizona.pdf

  • May 20, 2020 3:16 PM | Contact Us (Administrator)

    Josh Ruddick of the Arizona Master Naturalists talks about how trees can mitigate the heat island effect in our desert cities. Get our your laser temperature gauge--you'll want to test your backyard after watching this video!

    Take a look at the data on growth and the decline in lowering temps.



    Along with planting trees, you also have the power to affect policy on a national scale by letting our Arizona Senators, Sinema and McSally know how important it is for all of us to #actonclimate.

  • May 13, 2020 12:13 PM | Contact Us (Administrator)

    Installing raised garden beds gives you the opportunity to raise your own food and provides food and shelter for wildlife. Raised beds can increase your home value with beauty and self-sufficiency. Planting in your yard rebuilds habitat and helps cool the planet from increasing temperatures. 

    Join TJ as he installs raised beds at his home in Chino Valley as he shows us tips and tricks for easy and low cost garden beds.


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PO Box 1182,  Mesa, AZ 85211
(480) 702-1365
awf@azwildlife.org


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