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Learn about the latest events, issues, legislation, and actions affecting wildlife, conservation, and public lands in Arizona

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  • May 28, 2024 11:52 AM | Anonymous

    The Arizona Wildlife Federation is pleased to announce our partnership with the City of Tempe in its commitment to becoming a certified Monarch City through the National Wildlife Federation's Mayors' Monarch Pledge

    "Given the enormous loss of habitat including native milkweed populations across the country, it is essential to support vital pollinators such as the monarch butterfly through collaborative conservation efforts,” says Keith Ashley, Development Director and Coordinator of Gardening for Wildlife for the Arizona Wildlife Federation, “The Mayors’ Monarch Pledge is an innovative opportunity allowing the Arizona Wildlife Federation to work together with local governments and communities in our state to support Arizona's native wildlife.”

    The monarch butterfly’s western populations have declined by 99% in recent years. With support from the Arizona Wildlife Federation and Arizona State University, the City of Tempe joins the Mayors' Monarch Pledge and commits to taking specific actions to create and conserve monarch butterfly habitats within city limits.

    “Tempe is fully committed to environmental stewardship,” said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods. “By becoming a Monarch City, we are taking a strong stance towards protecting this iconic species and ensuring a healthy ecosystem for generations to come.”

    The City of Tempe has several action items it will accomplish in 2024 as a part of its pledge, including the launch of a public campaign encouraging residents to plant monarch gardens in their communities and working with developers, planners, and community leaders to identify opportunities for creating monarch habitat in new developments.

    The Tempe City Council accomplished the first action item — issuing a proclamation to raise awareness about the need for monarch conservation — at their meeting on May 21. You can watch a video of the proclamation and follow along as Tempe completes these action items at

  • April 19, 2024 10:08 AM | Anonymous

    Good News for Wildlife, Public Lands, and Taxpayers

    The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its finalized rule to reform oil and gas leasing late last week. This common-sense rule secures fair market royalty rates, which have not been increased in more than 100 years, and increases bonding rates to a reasonable level, ensuring that funds are available for necessary clean-ups and reclamation. The rule also raises the rates companies are charged for leasing public lands. Leasing criteria will also be applied to companies, reducing the practice of speculative leasing and thereby lessening development pressure on areas that contain sensitive wildlife habitat, cultural resources, high recreational usage, or other special resources and values. 

    “We are pleased to see the Department of the Interior take strong action to conserve public lands by finalizing their new oil and gas rule. For too long, unnecessary oil and gas leasing on lands with high conservation value and low energy potential have placed critical wildlife habitats and ecosystems at risk,” says Michael Cravens, Advocacy and Conservation Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation, “These pragmatic reforms will ensure fair returns for taxpayers and shift the burden of post-drilling clean-up to the companies that made the mess.”

    More than 260,000 Americans, including thousands of Arizonans, submitted comments for the draft proposal and 99.4 percent of those responders supported the common-sense reforms.

    “The BLM’s new rule is the right thing to do for our public lands nationally. Our public lands belong to the American people — whether they are in an oil field in New Mexico, a natural gas site in Colorado, or a helium field in Arizona. The Arizona Wildlife Federation supports the responsible management of natural resources, proper stewardship of our public lands, and a fair return to taxpayers,” says Scott Garlid, Executive Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation.

  • April 18, 2024 1:26 PM | Anonymous

    The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final “Public Lands Rule” balances conservation alongside other public land uses like grazing, mining, oil and gas extraction, and the usage of solar and other renewables. This rule restores balance to the stewardship of our public lands, which all U.S. citizens are owners of, by giving equal standing to the conservation of these lands. The BLM manages over 245 million acres of public lands across the U.S., all of which support fish and wildlife species, safeguard cultural resources, and provide communities with energy and water, as well as recreational opportunities like hunting, hiking, and fishing.

    To date, only 12 percent of the 12 million acres managed by the BLM in Arizona have been protected for their outstanding conservation values. “The new public lands rule gives the agency the tools it needs to restore degraded ecosystems so that the wildlife, outdoor recreation, and rural communities that depend on healthy public lands can thrive for generations to come,” says Scott Garlid, Executive Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation.

    A critical piece of the BLM’s Public Lands Rule is the ability to lease lands for conservation and restoration. These restoration leases allow the BLM to lease acres for the purpose of restoring them in the same way a mineral lease would allow for mining. Michael Cravens, Advocacy and Conservation Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation, explains, “A solar company could lease acres for restoration in order to mitigate the impact of the solar field, or a hunting organization could lease acres to remove invasive species in a big game migration corridor.”

    The Arizona Wildlife Federation heartily supports these rule changes and thanks the BLM for their ongoing stewardship of our public lands and forward thinking with reasonable policies like the Public Lands Rule.

  • April 03, 2024 10:33 AM | Anonymous

    This Holiday is Rich With Arizonans’ Appreciation for Public Lands

    On April 6th of this year, Arizonans across the state will be celebrating an important holiday: Arizona Public Lands Day! 

    We celebrate Arizona Public Lands Day on the first Saturday of April each year. The bill creating the holiday was drafted in 2019 by a team of conservationists led by Brad Powell, the immediate Past President of the Arizona Wildlife Federation.

    Arizona is home to over 30 million acres of public land, which accounts for nearly 50% of all Arizona land. These lands are open to the American public for outdoor recreation while also providing natural areas for our wildlife and native plant species. Arizonans regularly hike, hunt, fish, kayak, and bike through these lands — their importance for our connection to the great outdoors cannot be overstated.

    Public lands are areas of land and water that are owned collectively by citizens and managed by government agencies. These lands include everything from city, state, and national parks to forest lands, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, National Monuments, and everything in between. 

    This Saturday, we invite you to take part in the celebration of this important holiday — many free public events are happening that you can join! The Arizona Wildlife Federation is hosting its next All Afield Monthly Hike at South Mountain Park and Preserve and partnering with the Arizona Trail Association for the event. Chispa Arizona, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, and the Respect Great Bend coalition are hosting a public hike and picnic at the South Mountain Environmental Education Center. If you want the opportunity to give back to our public lands, Natural Restorations is teaming up with Pinal County Parks & Trails for a Peralta Road Cleanup.

    Remember — these lands are your lands!

  • November 21, 2023 10:30 AM | Anonymous

    In Arizona, we used to brace for fire season, but those days are long gone as we now must be on high alert most of the year, and we are experiencing bigger and more intense fires as we try to adjust to the changing climate.

    Our forests, which have always held a special place in the hearts of hunters like me, are facing an unprecedented vulnerability in this new reality.

    In Arizona we are blessed with more than 12 million acres of national forest land which belongs to all of us. They provide us with a trove of benefits including clean drinking water, a wide variety of wildlife habitats, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and relief from our heavily urbanized cities. They also provide economic benefits and jobs, including fueling the outdoor recreation industry which has become increasingly important. especially in some of our rural areas.

    These forests are increasingly at risk as each year we see more and more acreage impacted by high intensity wildfires. We are in a multi-decade drought, punctuated by occasional wet winters and/or summers, but the net effect is to have our forests drier for much longer periods.  As sportsmen we know that volunteers and the Arizona Game & Fish Department haul hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to remote wildlife water catchments which used to be filled regularly by rain and snowmelt. Our forests have the same long periods between moisture and have to be healthy enough to withstand these long dry periods.

    Now, more than ever, we need to manage our forests actively to make them able to withstand the conditions we are facing. We need to use the best available science and be willing to adapt as we learn more or as the conditions continue to change. We also need to consider local knowledge – from Tribes, early settlers, long term observers. And we need to recognize that after major disturbances, like high intensity fires, we may not be able to restore them to their previous state but must gaze ahead and adopt proactive measures to ensure they continue to offer essential habitats for all the game we pursue and non-game animals alike.

    Our forests need to include all ages of the trees, as well as a diversity of grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs underneath. In the Southwest, it takes much longer to grow trees to maturity and what we call old-growth than in many other regions of the country. In the past, our discussions about “protecting” old forests often leaned towards a hands-off approach, which still holds in some cases, e.g., legislated wilderness, However, in many others, proactive management is needed if we want them to persist in the face of our changing climate.

    The Forest Service, as well as local leaders, realize the magnitude of the situation and its urgency.  Programs have been initiated, but far more is needed. The recent Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act included multi-year funding for the Forest Service and other land management agencies to accelerate preventive actions. In spite of the infusion of large amounts of money, the Forest Service does not have the staff to do it alone. To support this work, a number of partnerships have developed. For example, in the Flagstaff area The Nature Conservancy is a collaborator. In the C.C. Cragin (Blue Ridge) reservoir watershed within the Coconino National Forest, a major cooperative effort to reduce wildfire risk includes the Salt River Project, Town of Payson, and Bureau of Reclamation. The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management is a major participant in the implementation.

    As the Forest Service and their partners work toward increasing forest health there are inconveniences – smoke from prescribed and managed fires, areas temporarily closed due to ongoing logging or other treatments or fires in progress. Things are not always pretty right after treatments. The ground is blackened until succeeding rains bring back green grass or other vegetation. Occasional groups of trees can be seen where the fire got too hot and they will not survive but will provide some localized diversity.

    We need a balanced, community-driven nationwide framework to ensure that our national forests are managed in a way that promotes climate resilience, enhances biodiversity, reduces the risk of mega-wildfires, and safeguards our precious, clean water sources. I hope my fellow sportsmen and women in Arizona will stand with me in supporting the U.S. Forest Service and others’ efforts to embrace climate-smart management policies, securing the health and vitality of our state's national forests for generations to come.

    Loyd Barnett is a forester and hydrologist retired from the U.S. Forest Service and a board member of the Arizona Wildlife Federation. For the last 50 years he has had the privilege of living in northern Arizona and enjoys hunting, hiking, camping, and cutting firewood on the national forests.

  • August 14, 2023 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) has been recently honored with generous support for its mission and programs from several outdoors recreation-oriented business partners and sponsors, including REI Co-op, Canyon Coolers, and Orvis Phoenix. In each case, AWF is  evolving layered and meaningful relationships with business partners that build upon the  federation model philosophy: “united we can achieve more than we can independently.” 

    REI Co-op has awarded a grant to AWF’s Get Outdoors Arizona (GO AZ) Program – a coalition of nearly 70 businesses across Arizona who recognize the important linkage between strong conservation policies and vibrant economic opportunities. The grant will support growing coalition membership, educating members on current issues affecting Arizona’s public lands,  empowering members to participate in the advocacy process effectively, and facilitating networking opportunities that strategically bring stakeholders together.  

    Founder and CEO of Canyon Coolers, Jason Costello, is a great example of a business owner engaged in protecting wild lands and wild waters – especially those of the Grand Canyon – that provide outdoor recreation opportunities critical to his business. Together with AWF staff members, Costello visited Washington D.C. on an advocacy mission in support of creating a  National Monument to protect the Grand Canyon from mining.  

    In an op-ed to the Arizona Daily Sun on May 7, Costello writes: “Millions of people from Arizona and around the world visit northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon every year. In 2021 alone,  tourism related to the Grand Canyon National Park brought in $710 million and 4.5 million visitors to our state. Our brand, like many local businesses, is literally built around the beauty  and uniqueness of this area.” In addition to supporting Arizona Wildlife Federation’s advocacy efforts, Canyon Coolers has become an annual business sponsor of the organization. 

    Orvis Phoenix presented the Arizona Wildlife Federation with the proceeds from its May  Giveback Days, welcome funding that will support programs as diverse as outdoors education for women, gardening for wildlife, a volunteer corps that regularly removes old fencing from 

    remote areas on the landscape, and the advocacy ventures at the heart of AWF’s mission to conserve wildlife, public lands, and our access to them. Orvis’ National Flyfishing Podcast Host  Tom Rosenbauer recently teamed up with AWF’s Podcast Host Michael Cravens for a lively discussion of flyfishing and conservation to engage the sporting community: Arizona Wildlife Federation Podcast #39. 

    As Arizona’s oldest conservation organization celebrating its 100th anniversary this year,  Arizona Wildlife Federation is well-versed in convening diverse stakeholders to protect wildlife and wild places. “AWF brings people together based on our common values around the importance of public lands, wildlife, and outdoor recreation”, explains AWF Executive Director  Scott Garlid. “We’re balanced and pragmatic in our advocacy, and we’re constantly expanding our reach to all individuals through our programs. It’s an honor and a privilege to receive the  trust and support of these business partners who share those values and see the importance of  our work.” 

  • August 08, 2023 11:50 AM | Anonymous

    The National Monument designation protects a place that is too precious to mine

    Creation of the nearly 1-million-acre Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument will safeguard Indigenous communities, water supplies, wildlife populations, and outdoor recreation from harmful uranium mining. The Arizona Wildlife Federation applauds the Biden Administration for listening to and working with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, conservation organizations, the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition, Arizona businesses, community members, and Arizona residents to enact these long-overdue protections – and to uphold its commitments to free, prior, and informed consent and other legal obligation to the Tribes. The Tribal Coalition, which has shown tremendous knowledge and leadership in advocating for these reforms, includes representatives of the Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Las Vegas Paiute Tribe, Moapa Band of Paiutes, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Navajo Nation, San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, Yavapai-Apache Nation, Pueblo of Zuni, and the Colorado River Indian Tribes.

    "The Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument protects water that is vital to the existence of wildlife, Indigenous communities, and 40 million other users downstream. This new designation also safeguards outdoor recreation activities so that future generations can continue to hunt, fish, hike, and raft on the lands and waters that surround this natural wonder,” said Scott Garlid, Executive Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation, “We are grateful to the Biden Administration and Arizona’s Congressional delegation for creating a reasonable designation that assures the Grand Canyon watershed will be both protected and actively enjoyed."

    “Generations of Indigenous Peoples and other residents of Arizona carry with them the mistakes of dangerous uranium mining. The creation of the Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument cannot make them whole, but it will help spare future generations of people and wildlife from irreparable harm,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “We will continue to work with the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition and Biden Administration to steward this landscape and ensure it is managed for the benefit of people and wildlife alike.”

    “The Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument is a sportsman’s paradise that supports a world-renowned mule deer herd,” said Michael Cravens, Advocacy and Conservation Director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation, “Therefore, protecting this region from the detrimental effects of uranium mining has been a long-term priority of the sporting community. Declaring this iconic landscape a National Monument, along with preserving access for sportsmen and women and keeping authority over wildlife management in the capable hands of our Arizona Game and Fish Department, not only successfully protects this region from the toxic effects of uranium mining but also preserves the imperative connection that people have to the land.”

  • August 03, 2023 1:53 PM | Anonymous

    How Monuments and Public Lands Strengthen Arizona’s Economy

    Business coalition, Get Outdoors Arizona (GO AZ), held a roundtable discussion this past Thursday, August 3rd at Grand Canyon Brewery to talk about the proposed — and now designated as of August 8th by President Biden — Baaj Nwaavjo I'tah Kukveni — Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument, Arizona's public lands, and how they both can strengthen our local economies. Attendees included Patrice Horstman, Coconino County Supervisor; Amber Reimondo, Energy Director of the Grand Canyon Trust; Dr. Larry Stevens, River Guide and Director of the Springs Stewardship Institute; Jason Costello, owner of Canyon Coolers; Greg Reiff, River Guide in the Canyoneers; Shawn Frate, owner of Parks Feed and Mercantile.

    “The Grand Canyon region is one of the largest drivers in Arizona’s $9.8 Billion outdoor recreation industry” said Michael Cravens, Advocacy and Conservation Director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “From rafting companies, to outdoor gear retailers, to gas stations and breweries, Arizona businesses of all types depend on this iconic landscape for their livelihoods.” 

    Grand Canyon National Park alone pours $710 million into Arizona’s economy and draws in nearly 4.5 million annual visitors. But what about the public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon? They support our state’s outdoor recreation economy by adding well-paying jobs, strengthening communities, and keeping more money in Arizona. That’s why Arizona business owners have joined the call and are taking action.

    The creation of the group, known as Get Outdoors Arizona (GOAZ), was spearheaded by the Arizona Wildlife Federation, which recognized the need for Arizona outdoor business leaders to come together to collectively ask lawmakers to support policies and actions that promote the state’s outdoor assets while protecting some of the state’s most important public landscapes.

    For more information and a list of members, visit

  • May 25, 2023 11:48 AM | Anonymous

    Key Sources of Drinking Water, Flood Protection are Threatened as the Supreme Court Limits Powers of the Clean Water Act

    Thousands of acres of wetlands and hundreds of miles of Arizona streams that ultimately provide clean drinking water to most Arizonans could lose critical protections after the Supreme Court decision today in the case, “Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency”.

    As part of the ruling, 5 of the 9 Supreme Court justices agreed that the Clean Water Act only protects waters and wetlands with a continuous surface connection to Waters of the United States. With that definition, roughly half the nation’s streams and wetlands and a majority of Arizona’s streams and wetlands could now lose protection. For Arizonans, we must now grapple with the potential loss of protections for many of our wetlands and streams including both ephemeral and intermittent streams that flow after rain and year-round, respectively — as a result of this decision.

    Those types of streams account for 79% of the total streams in Arizona that provide drinking water. The Clean Water Act is the reason that our waters cannot have toxic waste and sewage dumped into them. It is the reason that in Arizona, we have productive, healthy waterways, areas safe for fishing and swimming, and increased fish and fish-dependent populations like Arizona river otters. 

    “Over the past five decades, the Clean Water Act has revitalized and protected the most vulnerable waters and wetlands of Arizona and across the U.S.,” said Scott Garlid, Arizona Wildlife Federation’s Executive Director. “These waterways act as the kidneys of larger rivers and lakes, filtering water and safeguarding the health and safety of millions of Arizonans. Now state and local agencies must step in to ensure our drinking water supplies, flood protection, and critical habitats are secure for future generations.

  • April 11, 2023 11:43 AM | Anonymous

    New national monument would permanently protect the region from uranium mining and conserve important fish and wildlife habitat 

    Arizona Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, and Backcountry Hunters and Anglers

    Today, 11 local Tribal Nations hosted a press conference in conjunction with Congressman Grijalva and Senator Sinema to call upon President Biden to establish our nation’s newest national monument, the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument. 

    Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument would add long-sought and broadly supported protections for 1.1-million-acres of public land adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest, including a permanent ban on new uranium mining that would protect the watershed along the Colorado River from contamination. National monuments are a flexible type of designation, with proclamations often written to ensure continued state management of fish and wildlife and to provide for a variety of uses, including habitat improvements. The proposed 1.1-million-acre national monument includes both Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands. These agencies would continue to manage this landscape if designated a national monument.  

    “Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument is broadly supported by Arizonans across party lines and has long been a priority for sportsmen and sportswomen in the state,” said Nathan Rees, Arizona Field Coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “Given the toxic history of uranium mining in this region, we commend the leadership of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition to enact the wishes of millions of people hoping to preserve the beauty of this idyllic landscape. We cannot undo the toxic history that's been left in this region, but we can prevent new contamination from destroying its future.” 

    After multiple attempts to pass the Grand Canyon Protection Act in Congress, the legislation stalled in the Senate despite strong support from Arizona’s congressional delegation. The national monument proposal would swiftly add permanent protections to the Grand Canyon region, preventing further contamination of water supplies and ensuring quality hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations. 

    “This is some of Arizona’s finest wildlife habitat and one of our nation’s most iconic landscapes, so permanent protection from uranium mining while prioritizing outdoor recreation and hunting is the right thing to do,” said Scott Garlid, Executive Director of the Arizona Wildlife Federation. “Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument honors the perspectives of the tribal coalition, allows multiple uses and access, is consistent with management of the adjacent North Kaibab Game Preserve, and ultimately ensures that the area will be enjoyed by future generations.”

    More than 500 abandoned uranium mines are scattered across the region, impacting the drinking water of local populations and seeping underground into the Colorado River and other bodies of water found miles away. In fact, a 2010 U.S. Geological Survey study found high-levels of uranium deposits in 15 springs and 5 wells across the region, prompting the 20-year moratorium on mining in the first place. 

    Unfortunately, the moratorium has simply stopped new mines from coming online and hasn’t done anything to clean-up the hundreds still endangering the local population, millions of annual visitors, and some of the state’s best areas for trout fishing and big game hunting.  

    “Going back to Teddy Roosevelt, this area has been recognized for its world-renowned mule deer herd,” said Terry Herndon, President of the Arizona Mule Deer Organization.  “We’re happy to see a monument designation that matches the existing withdrawal area, maintains the current management of the adjacent North Kaibab Game Preserve, and prioritizes access for wildlife management and the heritage of hunting in the area.” 

    This region is also home to an active uranium mining operation, the Pinyon Plain Mine, which is located just miles from the entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. This mine has been allowed to continue operating even after they unexpectedly struck groundwater in 2016, creating the potential for contamination to spread far away from the site through the water table. Local wildlife has also been seen mistakenly identifying the mine’s contaminated retention pond as suitable drinking water and habitat.  

    Between the hazards posed to local elk and deer populations – in addition to nearby Lees Ferry, which is home to Arizona’s premiere trout fishing – we once again urge President Biden to establish this national monument and commend the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition for their dedicated leadership on this issue.  

    “Hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts come from a broad range of backgrounds across the political spectrum,” said Justin Nelson, Chairman of the Arizona Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “The thing that ties us all together is the conservation of wildlife and wild places. Given the prodigious elk and mule deer hunting across the proposed Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument, codifying the existing mineral withdrawal under this designation is not only good for hunters, it also ensures certainty for the future of this region.” 

    “Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument is a responsible approach given the history of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon,” said Alan Davis, President of Arizona Trout Unlimited. “It is unacceptable given the best science available and the known risks to our natural resources, the economy of Northern Arizona, and the communities that depend on Colorado River water that we continue to gamble with the future of Grand Canyon region. As sportsmen and sportswomen, we value multi-use of our public lands and insist on practical and science-based approaches to managing our natural resources.” 

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