July 2006

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Arizona Game And Fish Heritage Fund Helps Education

PHOENIX -  Whether you won or lost when you bought a lottery ticket last year, some of your money is likely going to benefit something you would approve of helping Arizona's schools and universities.

That's because the bulk of this year's grants from the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund are going to education and research. Heritage Fund money comes from Arizona Lottery ticket sales.

This year, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is taking its Heritage Fund money and awarding more than $645,000 to 22 grant projects across Arizona. When combined with matching money from other sources, the projects being funded total more than $1.2 million invested in Arizona.

"We enjoy seeing deserving projects get this money every year," says Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund Administrator Ashley Ross. "We like to see Heritage funding go to great projects that benefit both people and wildlife across the state."

Arizona voters created the Heritage Fund back in 1990. The money from lottery ticket sales goes to conservation efforts like protecting endangered species, educating our children about wildlife, helping urban residents to better coexist with wildlife, and creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are set aside to award grants to important projects that otherwise might not receive funding.

"We have an application process to make sure that worthy projects can move forward," says Robyn Beck, the department's Heritage grant coordinator. "We want to help students, researchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and ultimately, all Arizonans to enjoy this money."

Among the projects that won Heritage grants this year

1. creation and distribution of a color brochure with a map by Pima County Natural Resources to help the public better enjoy Tucson Mountain Park, the largest natural resource park in Pima County,

2. construction of an aluminum pier at Betty's Kitchen Wildlife and Interpretive Area by the Bureau of Land Management to improve public access to wildlife viewing and fishing in the recreational area,

3. design of various wildlife movement corridors by Northern Arizona University to help better ensure the safety of both humans and six to 12 animal species that live within five miles of incorporated cities in Arizona,

4. completion of a portable version of the digital information about birds available on the "Ask a Biologist" Web site, which will allow students, teachers and parents to download information about hundreds of birds to MP3 players. This project is being completed through Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences;

5. creation of a lesson plan, activities, and teacher training that educators at all grade levels can apply at Frances Short Pond, through the efforts of the City of Flagstaff,

6. work on the first phase of a University of Arizona study about bobcats living and moving around on the urban edges of the Tucson area,

7. creation of a student-made schoolyard pond habitat that will be used as an outdoor classroom for teaching wildlife-related lessons at Skyline Elementary School in Pinal County,

8. development of an outreach program to involve Native American communities and schools in wildlife observation and education, in conjunction with an existing environmental education program run by Northern Arizona University, and

9. study by the University of Arizona of the status and distribution of Mexican fox squirrels, a species that lives in a single mountain range in Arizona, and the impacts of fire on the population.

Over the years, the Arizona Game and Fish Department has awarded a total of more than $10 million in grants to communities across the state. More than two dozen schools in Maricopa County alone have benefited from Heritage money since the fund was created.

Arizonans can help raise money for the Heritage Fund every year, simply by buying Arizona Lottery tickets.

The department will hold workshops in August for groups interested in applying for next year's Heritage grants. Contact Robyn Beck at (602) 789-3530 for more information about the application process and to find out whether your group would qualify for a Heritage grant.

 

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