Happy Earth Day
Today is a historic day in our nation’s history as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to advocate for a healthy, sustainable environment in vast coast-to-coast rallies. Tia Nelson, the daughter of United States Senator Gaylord Nelson who founded Earth Day, recently produced a short film on the history of Earth Day and its significance to our lives today. Watch it on YouTube here. Earth Day is recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, observed by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to affect policy changes and adapt our own behavior. What are you doing today to celebrate, and to fulfill our collective responsibility to leave the planet better than we found it for future generations? Did you know that Arizona is the fourth fastest warming state in America, and Phoenix is the second fastest warming city? One important piece of legislation being considered for a vote this month is the Great American Outdoors Act, which will address the maintenance backlog in National Parks and Forests and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We encourage you to reach out to Arizona’s senators Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema today and ask for their commitment to vote in favor of the Great American Outdoors Act.
Campfire Ban in Effect Across Arizona
The United States Forest Service has banned campfires and open flames across all national forests in Arizona until the end of June in an effort to protect employees and communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The prohibited action includes igniting, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, including charcoal grills and barbecues, coal and wood burning stoves. The temporary ban is currently set from Wednesday, April 22 until June 30, and applies to The U.S. Forest Service’s Southwestern Region that includes Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas and Oklahoma.
Forest Service officials believe the steps are necessary to ensure firefighters are available to safely respond and manage fires, including preventing the drawdown of fire and medical resources to unwanted human-caused wildfires. Authorities said they also hoped the action would reduce firefighter exposure to COVID-19.
Violating the campfire ban may result in an ordered federal court appearance, fines, and possible jail time. Forest visitors will still be able to use pressurized liquid or gas devices like stoves, grills or lanterns with shut-off valves in an area at least three feet from any flammable materials.
Please help keep Arizona’s forests, communities and firefighters safe by enjoying the outdoors without a fire.
Junior Explorer Handbooks Available for Youth Learning at Home
As school districts have shut down across America and more youth are learning from home, we are pleased to offer an outstanding educational resource – the Arizona Trail Junior Explorer Handbook.
This 20-page educational resource is a virtual adventure from border to border, and each section highlights different geographical areas. The Handbook includes content that aligns with Arizona State science standards for grades 6 to 8. Each section includes Junior Explorer Questions that encourage critical thinking about natural processes, environmental issues, and how to affect positive change. These questions can be answered online and all participants receive a Junior Explorer patch for completing activities and answering questions. Patches are sent through the mail at no cost to participants along with a full-color map of the AZT.
If you know of any youth or families that would like a printed copy of the Junior Explorer Handbook in English or Spanish, just fill out this form on our website and we’ll mail handbooks to everyone who wants them. The complete Handbook is also available for digital download here.
We appreciate you helping us share the Arizona Trail Junior Explorer Handbook with youth.
Help Maintain the Arizona Trail
Although the COVID-19 crisis has hampered our group volunteer trail work events, we still need your help maintaining the 800-mile path from Mexico to Utah. Here are just a few ways you can help, and rack up some volunteer hours in the process – which we are going to need in order to continue qualifying for federal funding.
Monitoring and Reporting
Believe it or not, exploring the Arizona Trail and reporting on trail conditions is one of the most important aspects of stewardship. So the next time you’re out for a hike or ride on the AZT, please pay attention to trail conditions, including vegetation overgrowth, erosion issues, downed trees and missing or damaged signs. We collect this valuable data and then work with segment stewards and land managers to address needs based on priority.
Just use this Trail Conditions Form on our website to let us know what you saw and we’ll work to take care of it.
Remote Trail Maintenance Task Force
Another great way to help maintain the trail is through our Remote Maintenance Task Force! Responding to requests from numerous hikers and riders who want to “give back” while they’re out on the most remote portions of the Arizona Trail, we’ve developed a simple way for folks to trim back the encroaching vegetation, remove problematic tree limbs, and help keep the Arizona Trail corridor clear.
To join the Remote Trail Maintenance Task Force, just fill out and submit a simple form online and we’ll mail you a pair of pruning shears or pro hand saw along with a pair of work gloves and a Trail Brushing Guide. You can keep the gloves and hand tool as a thank you for your help in maintaining the AZT.
However you choose to help, PLEASE RECORD YOUR VOLUNTEER HOURS ONLINE after you’re done. Every hour you spend driving to the trailhead, hiking (or riding), and maintaining the trail is important to report. Don’t let your outstanding volunteer service go undocumented!
BLM Seeks Public Comments on E-Bikes
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking comments on their recently announced proposal to amend their off-road vehicle regulations to add a definition for electric motorized bicycles (e-bikes) that exempts them from the definition of “off-road vehicles.” This effort is in line with Secretary of the Interior’s call for the BLM to expand access on public lands to e-bikes. Given their use of a small electric motor, the BLM currently manages e-bikes as off-highway vehicles. The proposed rule would amend the BLM’s current off-road vehicle regulations to add a definition for e-bikes. This proposed change would then give local BLM land managers the authority to use that definition to conduct their own lawful decisions on whether e-bikes may be operated on public lands in their jurisdictions. While the BLM has already empowered its local land managers to permit the use of e-bikes wherever they have the statutory authority to do so, the comment period provides an opportunity for the public to offer feedback on the proposed rule. The BLM will consider informative and unique feedback as part of crafting its final rule. The 60-day public comment period will end on June 9. You can find the proposed rule online here. Please visit the BLM website for more information and to submit your comments. The Willow River Wilderness Survival School is a proud Business Partner of the Arizona Trail Association. Based in Tucson, Willow River Wilderness Survival School helps individuals gain the primitive outdoor skills they need to interact with the natural world in a deeper way. Among the many skills they teach are shelter making, flint knapping, traditional fire making, animal tracking and modern survival skills. All courses are custom to suit the needs of individuals and groups to hone the skills you’re most interested in. Willow River Wilderness Survival School is Ponderosa Pine level Business Partner. Please support the local businesses that support the ATA.