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Public records provided – materials from meetings of the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project Advisory Committee (Posted Nov. 6, 2014)

 
 

At the bottom of this page are attendance lists, agendas, meeting minutes and informal personal notes from meetings of the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project Advisory Committee. These materials were provided in response to a recently fulfilled public records request. The informal personal notes were written by the Advisory Committee’s liaison from the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The Department is making all these documents available in their entirety in the interest of full public disclosure for any member of the public to access.

Important points regarding these meeting notes and minutes

  • The Arizona Game and Fish Department (Department) is grateful to the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Project Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee) and proud of how they have put aside differences and worked together on an important wildlife reintroduction effort.
  • This Advisory Committee has been a successful experiment where diverse groups are working together for an important wildlife conservation project. The committee provides a secure setting where all members can state their opinions, objections and ideas, even when they are not in consensus with other members.
  • Advisory Committee members are encouraged to speak freely at meetings.  Lively discussions often raise pointed issues, and the Advisory Committee deserves credit for attacking issues, not one another. They would rather move forward together than generate appeals and battle each other in court.
  • The Advisory Committee members are to be commended for putting aside differences to participate in the process. They are engaged and taking positive action, and have represented their communities, organizations and interests well. 
  • The advisory process is collaborative and designed to achieve a consensus on recommendations to the Department not to impose binding decisions. Final decisions are made by the Department, and in some cases, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission (Commission).
  • Because of the integrity and courage they have shown, The Commission is recognizing the Catalina Bighorn Sheep Advisory Committee’s dedication by naming them the Conservation Organization of the Year for 2014.
  • The diverse members of the Advisory Committee find common ground in that all parties want the best for wildlife and their associated habitats. The discourse focuses on how this is best accomplished, understanding of and tolerance for management actions, and the Department’s statutory authority and responsibility for conserving all wildlife in the state.  

Department responses addressing the public records request

  • While the Department is subject to public record requests, the open meetings law does not apply to the proceedings of the Advisory Committee. Although the members are from private sector groups and may be unaccustomed to the transparency required of government agencies, the Department is voluntarily making these meeting agendas, minutes and notes public.
  • In June, 2014, the Advisory Committee discussed releasing 2-3 additional rams into the Catalina population, but the Department’s veterinarian recommended against this supplemental release due to the heat of summer and the risk of stress to the animals in both capture and transport. Since no rams were released, no public statement was warranted at that time. 
  • The Commission and the Department conserve more than 800 species of wildlife in trust for all citizens, present and future. Wildlife policy is based on the best available science, not emotion.
  • The Commission and Department value wilderness, of which wildlife and habitat are major components. The Wilderness Act does allow for management actions, seeking exceptions to operate in wilderness areas, provided the applicable process is followed. That process may include submitting an Environmental Assessment to the appropriate federal agency. The Department has upheld the integrity of the Wilderness Act and NEPA, and is working with federal land management agencies to ensure that the process is in compliance. No decisions on the applications have been issued by the Forest Service, so management actions have not been taken.
  • The Department continues to welcome input from representatives of local environmental groups and members of the public.  The Commission sets policy and direction for the Department, which is done in a public setting with full opportunity for public participation.
  • Prescribed burns by the U.S. Forest Service are not planned just to improve bighorn sheep habitat. They serve a larger objective, which is to restore forest and grassland health. Potential bighorn sheep or other wildlife habitat may benefit as a result of any prescribed burn or wildfire. Wildfires in the 2000’s improved habitat in many areas of the Pusch Ridge Wilderness currently unoccupied by bighorn sheep.
  • The habitat now occupied by the sheep is of a quality to sustain the current reintroduction effort for more than seven months without a mortality. 

  • Research is an important aspect of this reintroduction project as it assesses factors that may limit the bighorn sheep population. This information assists managers with finding alternatives to increase potential for success of this and other reintroduction efforts.  While sheep are monitored with Global Positioning System collars to track, locate, and document resource use and mortalities, the Advisory Committee recommended that lions not be collared in conjunction with this monitoring effort.  The Department adopted this recommendation.

Advisory Committee accomplishments

Public Records Documents

Meeting Minutes
 
2012
Apr. 11, 2013 [PDF]
Sep. 26, 2013 [PDF]
Jun. 14, 2012 [PDF]
Apr. 16, 2013 Redacted [PDF]
Oct. 15, 2013 [PDF]
Dec. 12, 2012 [PDF]
Apr. 30, 2013 [PDF]
Nov. 5, 2013 [PDF]
  May 7, 2013 Redacted [PDF] Dec. 3, 2013 [PDF]
2013
May 16, 2013 Redacted [PDF]
Dec. 12, 2013 [PDF]
Jan. 22, 2013 [PDF]
May 28, 2013 Redacted [PDF]
Jan. 24, 2013 [PDF]
Jun. 4, 2013 [PDF]
2014
Feb. 5, 2013 [PDF]
Jun. 13, 2013 [PDF]
Feb. 4, 2014 [PDF]
Feb. 25, 2013 [PDF]
Jun. 18, 2013 [PDF]
May 13, 2014 [PDF]
Mar. 5, 2013 [PDF]
Jul. 30, 2013 [PDF]
Jul. 1, 2014 [PDF]
Mar. 19, 2013 Redacted [PDF]
Edits [PDF]
Aug. 20, 2013 [PDF]
Aug. 5, 2014 [PDF]
Apr. 4, 2013 Redacted [PDF]
Sep. 10, 2013 [PDF]
Informal Committee Notes    
Dec. 12, 2012 - Mar. 19, 2013 [PDF] Sep. 6, 2013 - Jan. 7, 2014 [PDF] Aug. 5, 2014 - Sep. 2, 2014 [PDF]
Apr. 2, 2013 - Aug. 20, 2013 [PDF] Feb. 4, 2014 - Jul. 7, 2014 [PDF] Aug. 5, 2014 - Sep. 2, 2014 [PDF]
Continued
 

 

 

 

 
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