MARCH 27, 2013

Commission supports state role in Arizona travel management

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PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to conditionally support a strike-everything amendment to HB 2551, sponsored by Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, that strengthens state authority in how it will enforce travel management rules on federal Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

The commission's vote of support for the striker is contingent on adoption of an amendment that will be offered by the commission that allows the State of Arizona to determine which federal rules and regulations will become enforceable by state wildlife officers under state law.
The commission's support for the strike-everything language and its proposed amendment stems from the commission's long-standing concerns that the new Forest Service travel management rules exceed science-based protection of habitat, and put undue constraints on reasonable public access to federally managed lands and the commission's and department's ability to meet wildlife management objectives.

Game and Fish Director Larry Voyles stated to the commission that under current state law, if a federal entity establishes regulations related to roads, trails, routes and closed areas, those regulations are automatically codified by Arizona state law. Currently, if a person operates outside the parameters of the federal regulation, that individual is automatically in violation of state law.

"As the situation currently exists, federal rules, whether created from Washington D.C. or at the individual Forest Supervisor level, can force Arizona law enforcement to enforce those rules, without appropriately consulting or involving the Arizona Game and Fish Department or the local County Sheriff's Office," says Game and Fish Commission Chair Jack Husted.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department provided extensive comment to the Forest Service travel management plans, voicing concerns about the confusion that complex and inconsistent travel management rules across the forests were causing to outdoor recreationists.

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