A primary project of WFT is the maintenance of the Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame (see accompanying list of inductees). From the first 1998 induction class of Ben Avery, Barry Goldwater, Arthur “Bill” Greene, Jr., Eva Patten and Larry Toshick, WFT has inducted 18 more classes into the Outdoor HOF. Inductees run the gamut of wildlife artists, political figures, community activists, educators, journalists and broadcasters, wildlife and habitat supporters and a wide range of conservation-focused organizations. The Nineteenth Annual Arizona Outdoor Hall of Fame Induction Banquet will be held on August 22nd, at Scottsdale Chaparral Suites.
Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club
In our continuing efforts to respond to the demands of the public, Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club is always upgrading the facilities at the Usery Mountain Shooting Range. Our latest project is an 11,000 square foot Outdoor Education and Training Center. This building will be used for a variety of events here at RSSC. Phase I of this project is almost complete. We have the building up with power, water and restrooms installed. We can now use the facility for some events. Over the next two years we intend to complete Phase II of this project. Phase II will include finishing the interior walls, installing a 25 lane Air Gun range, storage cabinets, tables, chairs and air conditioning to make this facility suitable for year around use.
Up to this point RSSC has funded almost the entire project. We are now asking for assistance in completing Phase II as soon as possible. Being the only shooting range in the East valley presents a constant challenge to meet the demand from outdoor education groups like the Hunter Education trainers and new shooter training instructors. Additionally the sport of Air Gun has seen an explosion of growth in our area and needs a proper facility for its’ unique requirements. Air Gun is a terrific way to introduce youth to the shooting sports and is very popular with junior shooters. Any assistance in helping RSSC meet our goal will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for your support.
Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival
In the early 2000’s, spearheaded by Tice Supplee, the Department and the Foundation envisioned a westside-based nature festival that would expand the message of preserving Arizona’s wildlife to that growing area of our state. Following a negotiated Memorandum of Understanding and seed money provided by the Department, a group of WFT volunteers led by Heidi Vasiloff created the Tres Rios Nature Festival, now known as the Tres Rios Nature and Earth Festival. From its humble beginnings in 2004, the Festival has grown to stand on its own two financial feet and has become tremendously popular. The 2015 event was the Eleventh and was held on March 7 and 8, 2015 at the B&M Wildlife area on the Gila and Salt Rivers on Avondale Boulevard near Phoenix International Raceway. The Festival annually features educational booths and activities including canoeing, kayaking, fishing, birding, hiking, entertainment, food and outdoor fun. It has always been free to the public. The City of Avondale has emerged as the Festival’s most recent primary sponsor, and promises to continue to grow the Festival in conjunction with other community partners such as the City of Goodyear, Luke Air Force Base, Town of Buckeye and the Department.
Mesquite Desert Wildlife Oasis
The creation of the Mesquite Desert Wildlife Oasis Education Project presents a perfect example of the interplay between the Foundation, the Department and the public. San Diego-based Sempra Energy developed a 1,250 megawatt natural gas fired generation station near Arlington in the late 1990’s. The development of Sempra’s plant, known as Mesquite Power, required the acquisition of nearby farm acreage for water rights necessary for power generation at the plant. Land use stipulations added by Maricopa County for the development of the site included a proviso that a portion of the otherwise vacant “water property” be developed into one of a number of conservation-oriented uses, one of which was educational uses to be developed in conjunction with the Department.
Following introductions to the Department and the Foundation, Mesquite Power spent in excess of $500,000 to develop an educational and wildlife habitat site on its property suitable for visitation by thousands of school-aged children and adults. The Mesquite Desert Wildlife Oasis features information concerning the area’s local plant and animal life, as well as habitat and water resources. A staff overseen by the Foundation administers the program, which annually serves dozens of schools and some 3,000-plus students. The project is funded by Mesquite Power, which also contributes to other WFT programs such as the HOF banquet and Tres Rios. The Foundation met its goal of exposing thousands of young students to the Arizona outdoors and a conservation ethic while assisting Mesquite Power in meeting its development obligations: a win-win for everyone involved.
Arizona Scholastic Clay Target Program
WFT was among the initial funding sources to provide shotguns used in the Department’s Scholastic Clay Target Program, a team-based youth development program that uses the shotgun sports of trap, skeet and sporting clays to instill life skills such as discipline, safety, teamwork, ethics, self-confidence and other life values in high-school aged youth throughout Arizona. More recently, WFT leveraged its non-profit status to successfully apply for a $900,000 grant from the Midway Foundation, which funds are being used to support SCTP teams and programs.
Ben Avery Clay Target Center Events Facility WFT recently served as beneficiary of remaining funds in the now-closed Phoenix Trap and Skeet Club (as well as San Diego Shotgun Sports Association) following a resolution of the boards. These funds were combined with unrestricted WFT funds to purchase a steel building and associated improvements in conjunction with the Arizona State Employees Credit Union to construct and open a fabulous new events center on the BACTC campus. Thanks to WFT and the hard work of BACTC volunteers such as Paul Doetsch, the days of sweaty events under canvas tents and eating hot dogs from a vending cart have been replaced with an air-conditioned events center with full food service capacity. WFT and the Arizona State Employees Credit Union has worked closely with the AGFD Commission under a separate Memorandum of Understanding to fund certain of the building components consistent with procurement law governing Commission assets such as the Clay Target Center.