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Help! Watson Woods Funding Source In Jeopardy

Submitted by November 9, 2011 8:02 am

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It has come to our attention that the Arizona Water Protection Fund is in jeopardy and your help is needed. During this past legislative session, the Arizona Legislature voted to permanently eliminate general fund appropriations to the program.

This is of critical importance to Prescott Creeks and Watson Woods Riparian Preserve. Since 1995, the Arizona Water Protection Fund has been the most important funding source for management and restoration of Watson Woods Riparian Preserve. During this time the agency support for the project has:

  • Granted approximately $1.1 million directly, and allowed Prescott Creeks to secure and additional $1 million in grant funds from other sources
  • Created opportunities for 1,500 volunteers to invest nearly 13,000 hours into restoration and monitoring activities
  • Provided training opportunities for two college interns each semester

If you value Watson Woods Riparian Preserve for any reason whatsoever, we encourage you to review the following information from the Arizona Water Protection Fund Commission and staff. Please contact your legislators by email or telephone.

Save the Arizona Water Protection Fund – Please take action!

The Arizona Water Protection Fund improves and protects our state’s most precious resource – WATER.  This essential program is in great jeopardy!

The Arizona Water Protection Fund (AWPF) was established by the Legislature in 1994 to provide funding for protecting our State’s rivers, streams and associated riparian habitats.  During this past legislative session, the Legislature voted to permanently eliminate the program’s ability to receive general fund appropriations for grant awards.  Without funding, the AWPF Commission will not have the ability to award new grant projects.  Worse yet, the Arizona Department of Water Resources will not have adequate funding beyond the current fiscal year to manage the existing multi-year projects previously awarded and underway.

REASONS TO PROTECT THE FUND: The AWPF is the only funding source dedicated to protect and restore the state’s riparian resources.  Riparian habitats are streams of life in our arid state, and are the most popular recreation sites.  Less than 0.5% of Arizona’s total land is classified as riparian.  Approximately 75% of Arizona’s resident wildlife species are dependent on riparian habitats to sustain their populations.  Without the AWPF, this small land area and the wildlife that depend on it are in jeopardy.  Riparian areas also offer many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors – hiking, fishing, camping, swimming and birding.  These touristy places are critical to our state’s economy.  Permanent loss of riparian resources and associated biotic communities will have profound consequences for current and future generations of Arizonans.

AWPF is an essential program that protects water resources and wildlife, conserves our forests, farms, ranches, and open spaces, and enhances outdoor recreational opportunities.  This program is vital to improvements in water quality, water supply, biodiversity, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, flood control and overall watershed health.  Countless jobs have been created, significant revenue streams have been realized in our state’s local economies, and millions of dollars in federal matching funds have been leveraged through the implementation of AWPF projects.  Protecting the fund is essential to our state’s economy, unique quality of life, and the future of our state’s most precious resource.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Contact your legislators by email or telephone. To find the legislative district you live in, visit http://2001.azredistricting.org and enter your address and zip code in the Find & Map Your Districts:area of the webpage (lower left corner). E-mail addresses for all senate and house representatives can be found by district by visiting http://www.azleg.gov/MemberRoster.asp.

WHAT TO SAY: I respectfully request your support to reinstate a statutorily authorized General Fund appropriation for the Arizona Water Protection Fund (AWPF) previously mandated in A.R.S. § 45-2112(B).  The statute was amended in the last legislative session to permanently eliminate the program’s ability to receive general fund appropriations for grant awards.  I also urge you to provide an appropriation for program administration via special line item in the Arizona Department of Water Resources (Department) budget pursuant to § 45-2114(A), or eliminate the five percent statutory limitation established under A.R.S § 45-2114(C) regarding the amount of funding the Commission can award to the Department for program administration.  Without your support, it will not be possible for the Commission to award new grants; or the Department to maintain essential staff support beyond the current fiscal year.

The AWPF is vital to the citizens of Arizona, as it is the only funding source dedicated to protect and restore the state’s river and riparian resources.  Since 1994 the AWPF has funded projects that have maintained, enhanced and restored rivers, streams and riparian resources throughout the state.  It is an essential program that protects water resources and wildlife, conserves our forests, farms, ranches, and open spaces, and enhances outdoor recreational opportunities.  Sustaining the AWPF is essential to our state’s economy, unique quality of life, and the future of our state’s most precious resource.  Even during difficult budget times, we must invest in water, protect our state’s water supply and work toward securing a sustainable future.  Permanent loss of riparian resources and associated biotic communities will have profound consequences for current and future generations of Arizonans.

Without the AWPF, the number of river, stream and riparian habitat restoration projects in Arizona will significantly decrease because of the very limited availability of other funding sources. Opportunities for leveraging other funding sources will likewise disappear. The resulting degradation of natural resources also will have serious negative economic impacts to the State.  This is particularly troubling for the State’s rural areas, as tourism, recreational opportunities, water quality and water supplies are likely to be diminished.

I ask that you, as my elected official, defend the AWPF and provide funding for projects and program administration.  In order to ensure the long-term viability of the program, it is imperative that a stable funding source be established through either general fund appropriations, or another dedicated source.  I urge your support to continue these critical efforts!

Please act now to protect the fund that protects the State’s waters… Save the Arizona Water Protection Fund!

For more information, visit www.azwpf.gov/savethefund.  If you have questions, please contact Rodney Held, Executive Director, at 602-771-8525 or rjheld@azwpf.gov.

Arizona District 1 Elected Officials:

Steve Pierce
Senate Majority Whip
1700 W. Washington
Room 212
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Andy Tobin
Speaker of the House
1700 W. Washington
Room 221
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Karen Fann
District 1 Representative
1700 W. Washington
Room 308
Phoenix, AZ 85007

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