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U.S. Forest Service Encourages You to Participate in 20th Anniversary of National Public Lands Day

Alia Shaban Pedigo | Apache Sitgreaves National Forest

Alia Shaban Pedigo | Apache Sitgreaves National Forest

From our friends at the U.S. Forest Service:

The U.S. Forest Service is offering a fee-free day on September 28 in conjunction with the 20th Annual National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands.

“Today’s announcement is part of the USDA for all Seasons campaign, which seeks to educate the public on all the ways the department’s agencies programs help communities and their economies every day,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “America’s national forests and grasslands belong to all of us. These beautiful places have so much to offer, and we hope you’ll get outside and volunteer on National Public Lands Day to enjoy these places for yourself, while improving them for future visitors.”

The Forest Service offers six fee-free days in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Public Lands Day and Veterans Day Weekend. Fees are waived generally for day use areas, such as picnic grounds, developed trailheads and destination visitor centers.  Fees are not waived for concessionaire-operated facilities or for overnight use such as camping or recreation rentals. Contact your local national forest to learn if your destination requires a fee and if that fee is waived.

In 2012, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,206 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, making it the largest participation in the event’s history. Those volunteers collected an estimated 500 tons of trash and 23,000 pounds of invasive plants, planted 100,000 trees and other plants and built or maintained 1,500 miles of trails.

Additionally, almost 108,000 volunteers and service members contributed 4.3 million hours or nearly 2,400 person years on critical projects on national forests, grasslands and prairies.  Their service was valued at close to $94 million.

Forest Service lands, which include 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, offer something for everyone, from the casual hiker to the thrill-seeking recreationist. There are also opportunities and programs for children, including the popular Discover the Forest and Junior Forest Ranger programs.


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AZ Game & Fish Seeks Volunteers For Black-Footed Ferret Recovery

Photo by Bruce Taubert

Our pals at the Arizona Game and Fish Department are looking for a few good men and women to help out with an upcoming recovery project… Check it out:

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is in need of volunteers interested in assisting in the recovery of an animal once considered the most endangered mammal on the planet. An opportunity exists for people to lend a hand in the recovery of the elusive, nocturnal, and endangered black-footed ferret.

From September 27-October 1, Game and Fish will be conducting its annual fall spotlighting effort and needs volunteers to help document black-footed ferret numbers throughout the Aubrey Valley, just west of Seligman in northwestern Arizona.

“Volunteers play a vital role in this recovery effort,” said Jeff Pebworth, wildlife program manager at the Game and Fish Kingman office. “We don’t have the personnel available to fully staff these events and the program’s continued success depends on people remaining involved.”

Twice thought to be extinct, a small population of black-footed ferrets was discovered in 1981. A mere 18 were left when captive breeding efforts began in 1985. In 1996, Arizona’s Aubrey Valley was selected as a reintroduction site.

In just the last 10 years, black-footed ferrets in Aubrey Valley have reached a population high enough to be considered self-sustaining, meaning no captive-bred ferrets are needed to maintain a population. The ferret reintroduction crew documented 116 individual ferrets in 2011 and 52 during the 2012 spring effort.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished in Arizona,” Pebworth said. “We’re restoring an animal that was absent from the state for about 65 years. It’s gratifying to know we’ve reached a point with this reintroduction where the population has continued to improve.”

Volunteers earn the right to brag about their participation, aiding in the recovery of an animal few have ever seen. They can also witness the processing of the animals, which allow researchers to understand population, longevity, and movement throughout the range.

“This is a unique experience and provides volunteers an opportunity to see the amount of effort involved with this reintroduction,” Pebworth said.

Those wishing to volunteer, or needing more information, should e-mail azferret@azgfd.gov by September 21 with “September Spotlighting” in the subject line. Individuals should indicate which night(s) they are available to help; include a first and last name, a contact number, and if anyone else will be attending with them.

“We’ve made progress,” Pebworth said. “However, it is critical we continue to document ferret numbers and understand how this population is holding up in the wild.”

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Volunteer Opportunities at the Tovrea Castle

Image courtesy of Donald M. Appel

You’ve seen the Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights (you may not know what you saw, but you’ve seen it). Surrounded by an impressive cactus garden, the Tovrea Castle sits just off the 202 in Phoenix…. Yep, now you know what we’re talking about!

Image courtesy of Donald M. Appel

After undergoing a renovation both inside and out, the Tovrea Carraro Society is now looking for docents to lead public tours, operate the gift shop and serve as greeters. The fall docent training class will be held on September 15 and 22, 2012.

To learn more  about the opportunity or to sign up for the September class, contact 602-256-3221 before September 7.

(If the timing doesn’t work out, don’t fret: Additional classes will be held in October and November).

The Tovrea Castle was built by Alessio Carraro as a hotel that would be the centerpiece of a luxury housing development. When the Great Depression killed this dream, the castle was purchased by the cattle and meatpacking baron EA Tovrea and his wife Della. The castle would remain in the Tovrea family until late 1980s. The castle has been named a Centennial Legacy Project by the Arizona Centennial Commission and is now owned by the City of Phoenix.

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