If you enjoy outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, shooting, four-wheeling, boating or just watching wildlife, you'll want to visit the newly improved Web site for the Arizona Game and Fish Department at www.azgfd.com. So far, about 4,500 people each day are trying it out and that number is still growing.
The seven-month redesign project cost around $150,000 for the 350-plus pages of information and more is being added all the time. There is lots of information on wildlife and a host of other outdoor subjects.
Bob Miles, who headed the redesign project, explained that visitors are averaging close to six minutes on the new Web site. The norm for most Internet sites is about two minutes.
While visiting the Web site, one can sign up to have the weekly Arizona Fishing Report, Wildlife News, Urban Fishing Newsletter or the Nongame Newsletter sent via e-mail. One can also check lake levels, river and stream flows and fish stocking information.
Another new feature allows organizations to provide information about upcoming outdoors events or activities for the Arizona Outdoors Calendar. Just click on the icon and fill out the information.
One can buy fishing or hunting licenses (along with various user stamps), apply for an upcoming big game hunt, or view their draw status, plus download applications or regulations.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance has moved to intervene to fight an anti-hunters suit to ban hunting on the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) system.
A lawsuit filed by the anti-hunting organization Fund for Animals and 20 individuals challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's opening of hunting on 39 national wildlife refuges since 1997.
The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance maintains that the suit is arbitrary and capricious in that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted well within its authority when opening the hunting programs.
According to Walter P. Pidgeon, president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, the suit flies in the face of the Congress' intent as made clear by the 1997 National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act. The law firmly established hunting as a priority use of the nearly 100 million-acre NWR system.
For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit www.ussportsmen.org.
FLY FISHING MEETINGS
The guest speaker for this month's meeting of the Desert Fly Casters will be Jim Warnecke of the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He will discuss how Canyon Creek was impacted by the Rodeo-Chediski Fire. The meeting will be at the American Legion Post No. 2, 2125 S. Industrial Park Ave. in Tempe. The April 9 program starts at 7 p.m. Dinner is available at 6 p.m. for $8 including gratuity. For information, call (480) 821-5290 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Arizona Flycasters will have their monthly meeting at 7 p.m. April 10 at the Sunnyslope Community Center, 802 E. Vogel St. in Phoenix. Featured speaker will be Chris Fukuchi from Alta Vista Classic Anglers discussing flyfishing for mako sharks in the San Diego area. For information, call (480) 497-9008.
The meetings of both organizations are open to the public at no charge.
Tempe is offering safety courses for boaters age 16 and older. Boating experts from the Arizona Game and Fish Department will be explaining regulations, how to handle accidents, code violations, navigation, trailering watercraft and more.
These two-day classes meet 6 to 10 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Kiwanis Park Recreation Center, 6111 S. All-America Way. The classes meet on April 21 and 23 and May 5 and 7.
Advanced registration is required and the fee is $5 per person. For more information, call the Kiwanis Park Recreation Center at (480) 350-5201 or visit its Web site, www.tempe.gov/pkrec/krc.