Public Policy

Hot Topics

Apache Trout Cooperative Management Program (CMP)

AZTU-PPC, as well as TU National are actively engaged in developing a collaborative plan for how we should manage Apache Trout if the US Fish and Wildlife Service decides to delist the Apache Trout because the recovery objectives have been met. Stay tuned for more as this evolves!

Senate Passes Water Infrastructure Bill with Major Investments in Job-Creating Conservation Projects – READ MORE

Priority Waters

One of the major initiatives in the Five-year Strategic Plan coming out of TU National is the concept of “Priority Waters”. As a conservation group, we can be drawn into any number of issues. This initiative recognizes that we can only do so much and we need to FOCUS on the waters that are aligned with our mission: cold, freshwater that sustain native and wild trout (and salmon). We are aligning our focus on the 85 waters in AZ that AZGFD has identified as their current or potential wild and native trout waters. We are once again demonstrating our forward thinking by embracing the “Priority Waters” concept and are pursuing a pilot role in this initiative. The next step is to engage in further dialogue with AZGFD to narrow this further to waters.

Public Policy Updates

Priority Waters of AZ

Priority Waters is one of the key initiatives in the new 5-year Strategic Plan that TU National is rolling-out. Julie Carter, Aquatics Branch Chief for AZGFD, and her staff have identified 20 projects that they would like to work on to improve habitat for native & wild fish in AZ. We are working with them now on the funding requirements, prioritizations, and a timeline. This positions AZTU to be in a leadership role in the advancement of the Priority Waters initiative in TU.

Gila Trout Recovery Plan

Gila Trout Recovery Plan (GTRP) was first published in 1979 with numerous updates/meetings since then. The updated Plan was released with comments requested by September 10, 2021. Dr. Helen Neville and Dan Dauwalter of TU’s Science Staff worked very collaboratively with us and TU New Mexico leadership. All parties agree that the document could be improved in the areas of detailed planning, action plans, genetics, science, budget, and measures of success. AZTU-PPC, the AZTU Conservation Committee and the TU Gila Trout Chapter all submitted comments, along with the TU National Science Team. We expect that the review of these comments will take at least 6 months to a year to complete, although no commitment has been made by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to change the document. Because AZTU participated in the comment window along with TU National, our comments will be noted, and we have standing to continue to inform the process as it moves forward.

Apache Trout Management Plan

This very important plan to manage and protect Apache Trout, in the event that the USFWS decides to delist them from the Endangered Species List, is moving through the review and final signature process. Both the TU Science Staff and AZTU will be parties to this agreement.

Black River Forest Restoration Environmental Assessment (EA)

The USFS reports that they are working through robust comments received relative to the EA.. The associated Biological Opinion is under peer review. The latest projection is that the EA will be released in the Spring of 2022.

Upcoming 2022 Legislative Priorities

Nate Reese, the TU Staff person focused on legislative issues in AZ, has identified the following priorities for the upcoming legislative session: 1) 30X30 Resolution, 2) Ground Water Monitoring Bill, and 3) Outdoor Recreation Economy Resolution. More to come after the 2022 legislative session begins on January 10th, 2022.

Future Guest Speakers

James Goughnour, one of the AZGFD Commissioners, will speak on the Commission’s priorities at the October 12, 2021 PPC meeting. Steve Kandell, TU Staff, will speak on the 30X30+20 Initiative at the November 9, 2021 meeting. If you would like to participate, please contact Tom Osterday at publicpolicychair@zanegreytu.org.

The AZTU Public Policy Committee (PPC) hosts a virtual meeting on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:00 until 8:00 PM. If you are interested, please contact Tom Osterday at publicpolicychair@zanegreytu.org.

2021 Legislative Sessions Wrap-up

The 2021 Arizona legislature has concluded. Here is a summary of the bills we influenced, led by Nate Rees:

Wins:

HB2056/ SB1368: Water Conservation “Use it or lose it” – Passed

This bill allows in-stream water right holders to not pump their allocated amount and still retain their water rights permit. Good for riparian area, wildlife and downstream users.

HB2127/ SB1384: AZ Heritage Fund – Passed

This bill dedicates 5 million to the Arizona Heritage Fund, these funds are spent on improving parks, trails and preserving historical sites.

HB2248/ SB1175: ACC Renewable energy regulations – Defeated

This bill would take away the Arizona Corporation Commissions authority to regulate utility companies on how electricity is produced, e.g. Solar, hydro, wind etc.

HB2702: Limiting the sale of private lands to Fed. – Defeated

If a private land owner wanted to sell their land to a branch of the federal government (Forest Service, BLM, Fish and Wildlife) it would first have to be approved by a Arizona state legislative committee.

Governors Healthy Forest Initiative:
HB2247/SB1177: Forest products processing tax credit – Passed

This bill gives logging companies a tax credit based on the amount of slash/ biomass that is removed from the forest.

HB2440/SB1442: Hazardous vegetation removal – Passed

This bill funds the forest thinning on state lands and addresses invasive plant removal like Tamarisk.

HB2691: ADEQ Surface Water Protection bill – Passed

This bill puts a state water quality protection on perennial streams. This is a second layer of protection from the federal Clean Water Act.

Losses:

HB2679: Ground water monitoring – Defeated

Would give counties and cities outside of a AMA the ability to monitoring ground water pumping.

HB2003/SR1002: Support of proper forest management – Defeated

A resolution that would outline the states support for proper forest management. And how important forest restoration is to the watersheds that supply the Phoenix valley.

HCR2034/SCR1046: AZ outdoor recreation economy – Defeated

A resolution that outlines the importance of public lands and outdoor recreation to the states economy.

National Park Service (NPS) Incentivized Harvest Program at Lee’s Ferry

In the NPS’s efforts to protect the native humpbacked chub, they are offering a $25 bounty on each brown trout over 6 inches caught in the Lee’s Ferry section of the Colorado River. While AZ Trout Unlimited is committed to catch and release, we view this as a less threatening option to repeated electro-shocking to remove the brown trout. Click HERE for additional information.

We encourage our members to participate in this program.

AZTU Public Policy 2021 Strategy

The Public Policy Committee conducted our second annual Strategy Summit and focused our attention on collaboratively developing our Action Plans around three major themes: clean water, catchable native and wild trout in Arizona, and organizational enablement.

The Public Policy Committee meets:

Every second Tuesday of the month
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Contact Tom Osterday at tgosterday@gmail.com for more information or to attend