Multi-partner effort involves hundreds in stewardship activities across the area
PHOENIX- Thanks to a coalition of partners and hundreds of volunteers, nearly 100 tons of trash have been picked up from desert landscapes around Phoenix during the last eight months. It’s all part of the Respected Access is Open Access in Arizona campaign, which has been in high gear since last fall.
Respected Access is Open Access in Arizona is an education, outreach and engagement campaign that promotes responsible recreational shooting on public lands across Arizona. The 2014/2015 shooting season effort geared up in September 2014 and culminated in late April 2015 with a clean-up event at the Sonoran Desert National Monument along Pipeline Rd.
"These projects can make a difference on our landscapes and help to increase stewardship and interaction with visitors to public lands," said Dave Scarbrough, manager of the Sonoran Desert National Monument. “While there is still a large volume of trash being left behind by some irresponsible outdoor recreationists, more people are getting involved in the effort and we’re beginning to make headway.”
The campaign took shape because of ongoing problems with irresponsible behavior on public lands, which negatively impacts natural and cultural resources. While these unacceptable behaviors are perpetrated by a minority of people, they have a big impact on all recreational activities on public lands, particularly areas that are enjoyed by target shooters. The campaign is an effort to engage recreational shooters as ambassadors of their sport as well as active stewards in conservation.
This initiative is being supported by a coalition of partners including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Arizona Game and Fish Department, the US Forest Service and Tread Lightly!, a national nonprofit organization that promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs. Outdoor retailers, community organizations and shooting clubs are also involved.
“Our 5,700 members are very excited about being part of this effort,” said Jeff Kelly, vide-president of the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in Mesa. “It’s good to involve all of the interest groups who want to be able to access public lands for recreation. This is involving a lot of diverse groups for a common cause and that’s very positive.”
The Respected Access is Open Access in Arizona message is being spread through billboards, public service announcements and other communications collateral and through media, outreach and marketing efforts.
Outreach efforts included a presence at several Crossroads of the West gun shows, Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Agency/Industry summit and the agency’s Outdoor Expo. Marketing efforts included a significant billboard presence near popular shooting locations as well as a promotion that invited people to pledge to be responsible shooters. More than 200 people took the pledge to ACT and campaign billboards garnered more than 10 million impressions.
Volunteer efforts have been supported through Tread Lightly!’s training program that empowers individuals with the Tread Lightly! ethic and the communication tools to share the message effectively. Thirty volunteers have been trained as part of this campaign and are now ambassadors of responsible recreation and recreational shooting.
Stakeholders were engaged through several clean up events that took place from November through April. More than 1,100 volunteers participated, picking up nearly 100 tons of trash from the desert landscape.
DATE ----------LOCATION----------VOLUNTEERS--------TRASH COLLECTED (TONS)
Nov. 1, 2014-------Four Peaks----------212--------------------16
Dec. 13, 2014------Box Canyon----------90-------------------- 4
Jan. 13, 2015------Hewitt Station -------402--------------------40
March 1, 2015-----Table Mesa-----------240--------------------22.3
March 8, 2015------Miller Road----------200--------------------13.5
April 25, 2015------Sonoran Desert NM --19--------------------1.6
“This is a gratifying response to the campaign efforts,” said Lori McCullough, executive director of Tread Lightly!. “Keeping Arizona’s public lands healthy, open and accessible for all outdoor recreational activities is our highest priority. We want to thank all of our industry and community partners who helped make this effort so successful.”
Coalition partners will be planning activities for the 2015/2016 recreational shooting season in coming weeks and months. The campaign will be actively renewed when the fall shooting season begins.
“A broad community of stakeholders is taking ownership of these sites and committing to ongoing efforts to keep areas clean so that these public lands will remain open to recreational shooters into the future,” said Larry D. Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “We join our partners in helping to spread the word about the importance of recreational shooting on public lands and the need for all of us to be good stewards of our natural resources.”
Tread Lightly! is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a national nonprofit organization in October 2015. Founded in 1990 through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, Tread Lightly! promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs.
Tread Lightly! has more than 70 official partners from various industries and is likely the nation’s only non-profit holding MOUs with every federal and state agency in the U.S. Tread Lightly!’s diverse member base enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities including hunting, angling, camping, boating, biking, four-wheeling and much more. Become a Tread Lightly! partner or member today and start supporting access, education and stewardship at Tread Lightly.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to manage and conserve the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations under our mandate of multiple-use and sustained yield. In Fiscal Year 2014, the BLM generated $5.2 billion in receipts from public lands.
Arizona Game and Fish Department’s mission is to conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations. Guided by a five-member commission and a director, the Department implements rules/policies and takes actions to conserve and manage wildlife; promotes safe, responsible engagement in outdoor activities such as hunting, shooting sports, fishing, boating, off-highway vehicle recreation, and wildlife viewing; enforces laws that protect wildlife, public health and safety; provides information and safety education programs; and works in cooperation with federal, state and local agencies, private landowners, sovereign tribes, nongovernmental organizations, and other states and nations. For more information on the Department, visit " www.azgfd.gov.
2014/2015 Industry and Community Partners
Arizona Off Highway Vehicle Coalition
Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society
Bass Pro Shops
Boone and Crockett Club
Copper State Four Wheelers
Congressional Sportsman's Foundation
National Rifle Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club
Safari Club International
The Dusty Bunch
Tonto Recreation Alliance
Wildlife for Tomorrow