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Friday, December 10, 2010



Dec. 7, 2010 Arizona Game and Fish reaffirms commitment to Mexican wolf conservation   Department continues day-to-day management as it seeks to play greater role in conservation effort     PHOENIX – On Dec. 4, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted to support Congressional actions to delist the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The commission reaffirmed its strong commitment to Mexican wolf conservation, but recognized that progress on the program had been stalled since 2001 due to the current federal process that guides Mexican wolf conservation and the impact of unceasing environmental litigation. “The current Mexican wolf conservation program is in gridlock, and while we support the Endangered Species Act, we recognize that in the case of the wolf, it has helped create an impasse that could lead to the demise of the species in the wild,” says Terry Johnson, Ph.D., endangered species coordinator of the Game and Fish Department. “The discussion that led to the Game and Fish Commission’s decision recognizes that it is both unfortunate, and ironic that successful Mexican wolf conservation may hinge on removing it from the Congressional act intended to help restore it.” Through the commission’s action, they anticipate that the Game and Fish Department will become even more heavily involved in planning the future of the species and the day-to-day activities in a more affordable, efficient and effective manner “Continuous litigation on wildlife conservation efforts, including wolves, has left wildlife management decisions to the judiciary instead of with the experts – the natural resources agencies. This litigation-driven bureaucratic process also drives up the cost of conservation, making Mexican wolf conservation unaffordable for anyone,” added Johnson. The commission discussed that Congressional involvement is necessary to break the regulatory and litigious gridlock that Mexican wolf conservation has endured for many years before the demise of the species in the wild. Federal partnerships have been, and will continue to be, essential to continuing Mexican wolf conservation, and the commission invites all stakeholders to the table who are willing to participate in seeking solutions that will lead to effective, productive Mexican wolf conservation. Wolves in Arizona will continue to be protected wildlife through state statutes. Arizona’s involvement in Mexican wolf conservation began in the mid-1980s, with exploration of the feasibility of reintroducing wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1996, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service selected the Blue Range area in east-central Arizona as the reintroduction site, and the first 11 captive-reared wolves were released there in 1998. The Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area encompasses east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico. The Fort Apache Indian Reservation also plays an integral part in the reintroduction effort. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT:


HACKBERRY SPRING 12-10-10 Superstition Wilderness Here are some shots from today's hike. The cottonwoods, willows and narrowleaf cottonwoods are nearly at peak color. I'm guessing we'll have another week or so of fine desert fall foliage. Also, there was some water in First Water Canyon, but hiking was easier than usual. SEE MY PRIOR ENTRIES For HACKBERRY SPRING FOR DRIVING DIRECTIONS AND HIKE ROUTE INFO.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


V-BAR-V RANCH & SACRED MOUNTAIN Coconino National Forest, near Sedona In terms of both physical presence and historical significance, Sacred Mountain really stands out. A lone white limestone massif jutting from a bowl-like basin surrounded by stark red and black cliffs makes a bold impact on the landscape and holds many secrets of Arizona’s native peoples. The focal point of what archeologists refer to as Sacred Mountain Basin, the 300-foot-high flat-topped mesa was home to a farming community of Sinagua people between the 12th and 15th centuries. The hilltop living space included dozens of rooms and a central courtyard with expansive views of what we now call Wet Beaver Creek, Montezuma Well and the Verde Valley. The ruins are highly eroded, however, the crumbling foundations hint at the footprint of the vanished community. Underfoot, pottery shards are plentiful, including some with an unusual, rich black patina. Archeologists continue to study this area and have determined that the fields below the mountain supported abundant food and fiber crops. Remains of ball courts tell a story of people who not only worked hard, but also liked to play hard. The Sinagua also used sophisticated mathematical and astronomical tools to measure time, seasons and build accurate solar calendars. Evidence of this can be seen at nearby V-Bar-V Heritage Site where panels of petroglyphs are believed to document ceremonial traditions, hunting magic and the trajectory of the sun over the horizon. The best plan for appreciating all the wonders of Sacred Mountain Basin is to begin by visiting V-Bar-V Ranch. Here, exploring the petroglyphs is by guided tour only---the site is kept under lock and key, because, as we know, some people think it’s fun to deface national treasures. Guides are very knowledgeable and can answer most questions about the rock art---remaining questions are easy to research if you purchase one or more of several (reasonably priced) books available at the site visitor center. Once you’ve learned about the petroglpyhs and a bit about the Sinagua life ways; head over to Sacred Mountain. At the trailhead, pass the barbed-wire gate (close it behind you) and pick up the footpath that parallels the fence. The rest of the trail is obvious. On the summit, carefully explore at will, being careful to respect the fragile nature of this special place. AS WITH ALL ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES, IT IS ILLEGAL (not to mention, just plain ignorant & disrespectful) TO REMOVE OR ALTER ANYTHING. Leave the artifacts as you found them and don’t climb, sit on or attempt to “reconstruct” the walls. LENGTH: V-Bar-V: 1-mile roundtrip. Sacred Mtn: 1-mile roundtrip. RATING: V-Bar-V: easy. Sacred Mtn: moderate. ELEVATION: V-Bar-V: 3,800 feet (flat) Sacred Mtn: 3,800 – 4,100 feet BEST SEASON: September - May FEES: a Red Rock Pass (or equivalent) is required., (928) 282-4119 HOURS: V-Bar-V ranch is open 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday only. Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas. GETTING TO V-BAR-V HERITAGE SITE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to exit 298 (Highway 179 for Sedona-Oak Creek). Go right (east) on Hwy 179 (FR 618) and continue 2.7 miles to the turn off for the site. Park in the lot above the ranch and hike down to the visitor center where you must sign in and meet your guide. GETTING TO SACRED MOUNTAIN: From the V-Bar-V Ranch, go back out onto FR618, turn right and drive 0.5 mile to FR 9201A. Turn left and follow the rutted dirt road 0.2 mile (or as far as you dare) to a barbed wire fence and gate. Park at or near the gate. INFORMATION: (928) 282-3854