Category Archives: Mother Nature

Help Arizona Game and Fish Catch Elk Poachers

Tammy Simpkins | Elk, Grand Canyon

Tammy Simpkins | Elk, Grand Canyon

From our friends at the Arizona Game and Fish Department:

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating two unrelated bull elk poaching incidents that occurred in northern Arizona during the last week of August. The cases are especially significant because both elk were taken out of season, and rewards may be offered for information leading to arrests.

One poaching incident took place in Game Management Unit 5BSouth on the Coconino National Forest. The carcass of a 5X6 bull elk was discovered on Aug. 29 off Forest Service Road 136 near “the park,” about 3 miles northeast of Clint’s Well near milepost 294 on Highway 87. The poachers shot the animal with a firearm, took the meat, and left the antlers. This is a case of wildlife taken out of season, and it shows blatant disregard for wildlife management practices biologists have established to make hunting available to the public. A reward of up to $750.00 may be available for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

The second case involved a spike (young bull) elk poached in Game Management Unit 11M. The elk was killed about 1 mile southwest of Ft. Tuthill near the Coconino County Fairgrounds, in the afternoon Aug. 27 or in the morning of Aug. 28. The bull was shot twice with archery equipment and the entire animal was left to waste. A reward of up to $350.00 may be available for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

Officers investigating the cases have very limited evidence or information and are relying on the public to help find the poachers.

“Someone may have information about these cases and we need them to come forward,” said Game and Fish said Wildlife Manager Mike Rice. “Sportsmen and women pay for licenses and tags and contribute to wildlife conservation and management, but poachers do not. Poaching isn’t hunting, it’s stealing Arizona’s valuable wildlife resources.”

Anyone with information about the cases can call the Department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll free at (800) 352-0700 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/thief. Callers should provide case number 14-002441 for the Unit 5BS case, and 14-002414 for the Unit 11M case when calling.  Callers may remain confidential upon request.

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Q&A: New Book Explores Grand Canyon’s History

El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park | I-Ting Chiang

El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park | I-Ting Chiang

A new Grand Canyon book has hit the scene, but this one has a twist.

Suzanne Silverthorn, the co-author of Grand Canyon: Past and Present, is an avid collector of vintage postcards featuring scenes from the national parks of the West. According to Silverthorn, her interest in postcards and national parks is drawn from her experiences summering in her family cabin in Grand Lake, Colorado, as a child, and a train trip she took with her grandmother to the Grand Canyon when she was 10 years old. Years later, she discovered an old box of brochures, maps, and postcards she had sent to her family in that time. So began the process of sorting through other family possessions and collecting other souvenirs from her trips to the West’s national parks.

“As I began acquiring these postcards,” Silverthorn says, “I was immediately struck by the grit and determination of the early-day sightseers and what was required to reach the parks — first by dusty stagecoach and horseback trails, then the more comfortable, but exclusive train excursions, and later by auto — the great equalizer. I became fascinated with the evolution of national-park tourism and the men and women who devoted their lives and fortunes to create the camps, lodges, roads and other visitor services to accommodate this new industry.”

The result is a compilation of photographs and keepsakes of the Grand Canyon that serves as a timeless account of the park’s significance, not only for its beauty and grandeur, but also for its focus on society’s contributions to the park in its transformation as a tourism destination over time. “The combination of past and present images shows an evolving landscape within a man-made environment and its juxtaposition with the incredible scenery,” Silverthorn says.

We asked the author a few questions about the process of compiling this unique collection of Grand Canyon memorabilia.

A postcard of El Tovar, circa 1906. The sender describes the breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon from the hotel. | Courtesy of Suzanne Silverthorn

A postcard of El Tovar, circa 1906. The sender describes the breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon from the hotel. | Courtesy of Suzanne Silverthorn

Q: Describe the format and contents of the book.
A: The book uses a combination of postcard images and present day photography to offer a timeless account of the park’s scenic and historical significance. With chapters on the South Rim and North Rim, the book introduces readers to the park’s early promoters, including prospectors and homesteaders. Also featured are the significant contributions of the Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads. It’s a pictorial account in which historic postcards are paired with award-winning images of today, courtesy of landscape photographer I-Ting Chiang. Scenes include dramatic rim views and rugged trail-side settings, plus El Tovar and other historic properties once operated by the Fred Harvey Co., as well as the stone-sculpted visitor facilities crafted by Mary Colter. Together, these images tell the story of the development of modern tourism in the Grand Canyon. The book is a treasured keepsake for history buffs and an inspiration to others who marvel at the adventurous spirit of the early entrepreneurs.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

A vintage El Tovar decal, produced by the Santa Fe Railway and the Fred Harvey Co. | Courtesy of Suzanne Silverthorn

A vintage El Tovar decal, produced by the Santa Fe Railway and the Fred Harvey Co. | Courtesy of Suzanne Silverthorn

A: What I find remarkable about the Grand Canyon is the timeless appeal it has on our souls. It’s an emotional and spiritual connection that transcends our ancestry and culture. And while those who came before us weren’t particularly well traveled, their instincts told them this was a special place — a place to be shared with others. The inspiration for the book comes from an admiration of the early-day pioneers that devoted their livelihoods to share the park with those who had longed to see such a site while paving the way for today’s visitors. The past and present images demonstrate the park’s scenic timelessness while also illustrating the progression as a tourism destination. While many readers will connect with the book to reminisce about earlier visits, my hope is that new visitors will not only be moved by their own experiences associated with the park’s majestic views, but will use the book to appreciate the park’s fascinating cultural history and preservation efforts.

Q: What did you enjoy most about the process of compiling this book?
A: I enjoyed the research associated with the book, which led me to connect with some wonderful people who graciously offered their help and support. The list includes author Michael F. Anderson, an expert on the park’s history; Wayne Ranney of the Grand Canyon Historical Society; Michael Quinn with the National Park Service; Julie Herrick with BNSF Railway; and Patricia LaBounty with the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed poring over old brochures and pamphlets published by the railroads and the National Park Service. The material in these early publications included lodging rates, what to wear, what to do, how to get there, etc. The postcards, too, offered an interesting glimpse into the past with first-hand accounts of early travels to the Grand Canyon. I also found the reference librarians at my local library to be extremely helpful in assisting in the research of elusive dates and other details. It was a great reminder of the tremendous resources and personal assistance offered by our local libraries.

Q: What were some of the challenges or surprises you encountered in compiling this book?
A: Before I began researching the book, I had no idea of the contributions of Mary Colter and her design influences throughout the Southwest. She was clearly ahead of her time in the way she approached the design and construction of Hopi House, Phantom Ranch and her other projects within the park and is only now receiving the kind of recognition she deserves as a pioneering architect. Look for additional discussions on the Fred Harvey/Mary Colter fan page on Facebook.

Q: Do you have any more projects lined up?
A: This month, a yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park will be taking place. I’ll be working with the libraries in Grand Lake and Estes Park, Colorado, to help commemorate the anniversary later in the year. I’ll also continue to add to my postcard collection. My goal is to acquire postcards of every lodge from every decade from every national park.

Q: Where can the public find out more about you and your new book?
A: The Grand Canyon book is the fourth in a series of past and present books; the other books are profiles on Glacier, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks. Ask your local library to obtain copies of any of these books from the interlibrary-loan program. Copies are available for sale at www.schifferbooks.com or www.amazon.com.

— Alexandra Winter

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Permit Now Required for Organized Group Hikes at Grand Canyon

Sarah Dolliver | Grand Canyon

Sarah Dolliver | Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is now requiring organized, non-commercial groups conducting rim-to-rim hikes and extended day hikes in the inner Canyon to obtain a special-use permit for their activity.

The change, the National Park Service says in a news release, is being made on an interim basis in response to increased traffic on inner-Canyon trails. That added use has increased litter along the trails and led to crowded restrooms and trailheads, among other consequences, the Park Service says.

The special-use permit costs $175 and is required for groups of any size (limited to 30 people) that meet any of the following requirements:

  • The group has advertised to the general public.
  • Individuals are required to sign up prior to participation.
  • The group has an organizer who has been compensated for their participation, including subsidized participation.

“With rim-to-rim and extended day hiking and running increasing in popularity, we needed to find an interim solution that would give us the tool to educate hikers and runners on best practices until we have a longer-term solution in place,” Park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga says in the release.

In pursuit of that long-term solution, the Park Service is revising its 1988 Backcountry Management Plan and preparing an environmental-impact statement, a draft of which is expected to be released this fall. It will address these and other types of Canyon activities.

For more information about the special-use permits, or to apply for one, click here.

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Wild Arizona: Celebrating Arizona’s Wilderness Areas All September

Peter James Nature Photography | Superstition Wilderness

Peter James Nature Photography | Superstition Wilderness

If you’ve picked up our September issue (on newsstands now), you know that the cover story celebrates Arizona’s wilderness areas — the 90 places in our state given the ultimate protection under federal law. That’s in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, signed into law September 3, 1964.

Now that it’s September 1, we’re excited to announce a 30-day blog series titled Wild Arizona. Each afternoon in September, we’ll be spotlighting three of those 90 places on the Arizona Highways blog.

With each post, you’ll get information on what can be found in each wilderness, where it is, how big it is, when it was established, and which government agency manages it. We’ve included contact info for those agencies so you can learn about any closures or restrictions before visiting.

Look for the first entry in Wild Arizona later today. We hope you enjoy this series!

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Celebrate Wildlife at the Grand Canyon Next Month

Nathaniel Smalley | Grand Canyon

Nathaniel Smalley | Grand Canyon

Do you love wildlife? Do you also love the Grand Canyon? If your answer is “yes” to both questions, start making plans to attend Grand Canyon National Park’s Celebrate Wildlife Day, taking place Saturday, September 13, at the South Rim.

Park rangers and other experts will share information about the Canyon’s wildlife and endangered species, including raptors, condors and elk. The family friendly event will feature several activities for kids, too. And at 1:30 p.m., the park will celebrate Yaki Point’s designation as a Globally Important Bird Area.

For more information on the event, click here.

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Don’t Get Struck by Lightning This Monsoon Season

Jillian Danielson | Clouds and lightning over Lake Havasu City

Jillian Danielson | Clouds and lightning over Lake Havasu City

We’re at the height of monsoon season in Arizona, and that means lightning. Lots and lots of lightning. And while it’s possible to survive a lightning strike — Roy Sullivan, a Shenandoah National Park ranger, survived seven of them, if you can believe it — it’s far better to just avoid being struck at all. With that in mind, our friends at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests wanted to share a few lightning-safety tips:

  • No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter — a substantial building with electricity or plumbing, or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows up.
  • Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.

But what if you’re caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby? You can reduce your risk with these last-resort measures:

  • Immediately get off elevated areas, such as hills, mountain ranges or peaks.
  • Never lie flat on the ground, never shelter under an isolated tree, and never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
  • Immediately get away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water.
  • Stay away from barbed-wire fences, power lines, windmills and other objects that could conduct electricity.

Additionally, check the latest weather forecast before you head outdoors to make sure thunderstorms aren’t expected in the area. Stay safe out there, folks!

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