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  • July 20, 2020 7:21 PM | Deleted user

    On Saturday July 18th we conducted our Covid-19 aware Sonoita Plains/San Rafael Valley 9th annual pronghorn survey. Note the survey results below and thanks from Regional Game Specialist Rana Tucker. We did well on the survey, disappointing fawn numbers but at least at the herd maintenance level.

    Presuming we observed 75% of the animals present we are holding our meta-population level at a  minimum of 250 animals occupying the now pronghorn friendly habitat of 100,500 acres on the plains. When the project/grant began in 2012 we had just 81 pronghorn fragmented into 3-sub populations. The San Rafael population was just 9. The NFWF/AAF/AGFD and Landowners and multiple partners have made a tremendous difference since 2012!!

    Glen Dickens

    From Rana Tucker:

    Here are the results from this year's survey, and the past 4 years for comparison.

    In the Sonoita Plains ONLY (not including San Rafael Valley, which isn't surveyed every year), we saw: 

     2020- 218 total (63b, 115d, 30f, 10 uncl)

    2019- 274 total (84b, 130d, 57f)

    2018- 171 total (67b, 88d, 12f, 4 uncl) *raining during survey

    2017- 237 total (67b, 139d, 21f, 10 uncl)

    In San Rafael Valley:

    2020- 31 total (15b, 16d, 0f)

    2019- 28 total (10b, 13d, 5f)

    2012- 9 total

    So region-wide (all of 34/35), we came out with a fawn:doe ratio of 23:100.

    Just looking at the Sonoita plains, it was 26:100.

    Please thank EVERYONE for their hard work and dedication this Saturday! It really warms my heart to see how much the members of your organization care about pronghorn, and are willing to put their time and effort (and gas money!) into showing it! It was an exciting day, even though the fawn numbers could have been better. I had a great time, and hope everyone else did, too.


    Rana Tucker |  Terrestrial Wildlife Specialist ~ Game Mgmt

    Arizona Game & Fish Department

  • April 27, 2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Several Wildlife Conservation Organizations in Arizona have partnered with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to help secure $2,857,143 in leveraged NRCS funding in Arizona to restore grassland and woodland habitat connectivity.

    NRCS is investing $206 million in 48 partner-driven conservation projects across 29 states through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Partners are making nearly $300 million in contributions. The wildlife conservation organizations in Arizona actively support wildlife habitat improvements and this RCPP will help restore 50,000 acres of habitat in northern Arizona, this grant will be use in 18A for the initiative going forth in that unit.

    Hashtags: #USDA_NRCS #USDA #AZGFD

  • March 19, 2020 11:33 AM | Deleted user

    November 7, 2019  University of Arizona

     Article by Glen Dickens

    The first Southwestern Grassland Research and Management Workshop was held at an all-day session  on Thursday November 7th, at the University of Arizona and included over 100 participants. The workshop was organized by the  Arizona Cross-Watershed Network, with support from UA Cooperative Extension, US Fish and Wildlife Service, AZ Department of Forestry and Fire Management, AZ Game and Fish Department, and Pima County.

    The workshop included expert presentations on the “state of the practice” of grassland restoration; Lightning talks by restoration practitioners including non-profit organizations, private landowners, and state and federal wildlife and land managers; Lightning talks by researchers on low cost emerging technologies in restoration; Break-out discussions to identify opportunities to address pressing grassland restoration challenges and large-group discussions on emerging opportunities for scaling up grassland restoration. These were all excellent and attendees participated vigorously in  the breakout sessions.

    Southeast Arizona AAF Field Manager John Millican, VP/Grants/Projects Manager Glen Dickens and Betty Dickens, AAF attended on behalf of the AAF. Glen presented the first lighting round expert presentation power point with a focus on the grassland restoration efforts on the Bonita pronghorn herd zone, where from 2010-2018 a total of $1.564M has been spent on mesquite removal at an average cost range of $220-$300 per acre. Cultural clearances averaged $233 per acre. He highlighted that our “Arizona Antelope Foundations Southeastern Arizona’s Grasslands Initiative” grants 8-year target was 5,000 acres of grassland restored and that at our grants end in 2019 we have restored some 6,750 acres. He also highlighted the value of our volunteer hours and mileage completing 16 fence projects  in 8-years with a value of over $250K in grant match.

    The audience applauded our efforts and as a wildlife conservation  NGO the AAF has much to be proud of! We are now counted as valued contributing conservation partners in every circle in southeast Arizona where pronghorn occur.   


  • February 24, 2020 8:56 AM | Deleted user

    By Glen Dickens, VP/Grants/Projects Mgr.

    Another successful AAF fence modification/removal project was completed by 27 volunteers in Southeastern Arizona on September 27/28, 2019 on Allen Flat 20 miles northwest of Willcox in game management unit 32. 

    We modified 3 miles of existing boundary fence on the 3-Links Ranch. 

    We removed the bottom barbed wire strand and replaced with smooth. In addition, on another 1.5 miles of fence on an adjoining ranch we simply had to move the bottom strand up to 16 inches as it had been installed to a 10-inch height.

    Separate from this work we utilized the remaining $23K of our NFWF

     8-year grant funds to purchase 7 full miles of fence materials, These were delivered to the Warbonnet/Dobson Cattle/Dos S Land & Cattle ranches for full fence replacement on ranch boundaries and interior fences. We thank all 4 ranches on the Allen Flat pronghorn herd zone for their cooperation! Family  members from the Warbonnet ranch joined us for our Saturday night dinner to accept our appreciation personally.

    This effort is in direct proximity to where 14 pronghorn from Prescott were released in January/19 of which 5 were radio collared. That radio collar data was utilized to “tell us” where the top priority choke points were due to fencing that needed to be modified or replaced. As a result, an additional 13,500 acres of Allen Flat are now completely “permeable” to resident pronghorn! In addition to the supplemental release this herd zone has received periodic coyote treatment. When our project began in 2011 the resident population numbered just 24 animals with the AGFD observing 70 in their August 2019 aerial survey.

    This project effort benefits the now completed National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant in that all labor hours, materials and mileage from this project were used to match the AAF’s $430K 8-year grant for our “Southeastern Arizona Grasslands Pronghorn Initiative”. The grant had a goal of improving up to 100,000 acres of “Pronghorn habitat connectivity”. That goal was met in April of 2018 at Elgin and we are continued to add to that total through the end of the grant period in December 2019.

    Dinners were served on Friday and Saturday nights with the sides

    provided by Mary and Bill Keebler and they hosted Saturday and

    Sunday morning breakfasts as well. Thanks Mary and Bill!

    Thanks, go out to several  folks that contributed to this successful project:

     -Representing the AAF Board:  Ken Meadors,  Joe Bill Pickrell, Gary Boyer, Robert Velasco, Al Sue, Connie Taylor, Steve Tritz  and yours truly.

    -Representing the Az Game and Fish: Troy Christensen, Mike Richens, and Rana Tucker

    -Representing The Nature Conservancy: Ron Day

    -Other AAF members and volunteers:   Betty Dickens,  John Millican, Bill & Mary Keebler, Ken & Kathy Cook, Frank Tennant, Darrell Tersey,  Bill Werner, Darrel Wood, Jason Angell, Mike Ebright, Joelle Buffa, Clyde Morris and Joyce Partain  

    Thanks, everyone for your efforts!

    Photos by Betty Dickens

  • January 15, 2020 9:30 AM | Deleted user

    October 19/20, 2019 

    By Glen Dickens

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Contracts Branch conducted net-gunning pronghorn captures in game management unit’s 19A and 8  on October 19/20, 2019 led by Scott Sprague/Project Manager and Road Biologist. This was part of the ongoing connectivity work being conducted under the now “South of I-40 Pronghorn Project”. The AAF has been supporting this effort for the past 8 years by providing fence modification project camps and volunteers every August, as well as allocating $10K from the pronghorn Habitat Partnership account annually.

    Assisting on the ground for both days was past president Bill Keebler, AAF Life Member Betty Dickens and myself. Volunteers were used to locate pronghorn and keep them in sight until the helicopter could arrive and conduct the net-gunning and radio collaring. Saturday was a hard day for us as we did not find a single pronghorn in the Putnam Flat zone of western unit 8. Sunday the 20th was a better day when we were assigned to Garland Prairie east of Williams; found a herd of 15 animals and the helicopter showed up in the afternoon and successfully caught and collared a buck and doe from the herd.

    The collars permit daily monitoring and two full years of pronghorn movement data from summer range, where they fawn and breed to winter range and back again through 2022. The 2 key objectives of the collar data are to determine seasonal habitat use and to identify potential bottlenecks on their 20-30mile trek from summer to winter range and back again. A total of 20 pronghorn were collared over the 2 days and no reported animal injuries or mortalities occurred. This data directly affects where we will be modifying or removing fences at our upcoming August 8th fence project with the camp located again in beautiful Garland Prairie, we hope you can join us!

  • December 08, 2019 9:06 AM | Deleted user

    Article by Glen Dickens:

    The 3RD Annual “Quail Festival” was held on Sunday December 8th from 11-2PM at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Sonoita Arizona. Formed by a partnership with the Southeastern Arizona Quail Forever chapter lead by President Zack May and the Tucson office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and local Wildlife Manager Brittney Oleson. It was again a rousing success and well attended with over 300 participants and 20 vendor and organizational booths.

    The official start of Mearns Quail Season opened on Friday December 6th. Mearns quail hunters from across the country converge annually on the area filling every available trailer rental space in the local community of Patagonia as well as all the local campgrounds and many motel rooms to pursue their quarry.  Every conceivable bird dog breed is represented with some hunters having as many as four dogs. A quick walk through the parking lot revealed truck license plates from Idaho, Montana, Indiana, Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska and of course Arizona.

    A local bird dog club was on hand to keep the crowds well fed with grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for a $3 donation and there was a bird cleaning station and wing aging identification by the AGFD. One display by the AGFD included examples of Arizona’s quail “Big 4” with mounts of Mearns, Scalies, Gambles and California quail available to examine.

    Board members Kara Jensen and Robert Velasco manned a table representing the AAF next to a booth by the Arizona Wildlife Federation manned by Outreach Director Nikki Julian and AAF/AWF VP Glen Dickens. Many questions were answered about the AAF and multiple folks took the available handouts and quarterly magazines. Both the AAF and the Southeastern Arizona Chapter of Quail Forever are affiliates of the AWF. 

    Andy the Antelope was on hand to be “adopted” and sales were made for family stocking stuffers for the upcoming Christmas Holiday.

    It was a great time and the AAF and AWF will be represented again next year. Thanks much to Kara and Robert for making the drive from Phoenix with our  organizations materials and booth displays!

  • August 10, 2019 2:31 PM | Deleted user

    By Gary Boyer AAF Board Member

    The weekend of August 10th and 11th marked the fourth AAF work project of 2019 and the beginning of a new project site for the Arizona Antelope Foundation (AAF). The area known as the Garland Prairie, south of I-40 and between Williams and Flagstaff is the site for several future fence removal and modification work projects. Garland Prairie is roughly 14,000 acres, the pronghorn spend summer and fall there and other high elevation meadows before migrating up to 60 miles south along I-40 and down SR 89 to Prescott or Jerome. Some animals stay around Wagon Tire or Drake.

     AAF is coordinating with AZGF (Arizona Game and Fish), Kaibab and Coconino NF (National Forest) personnel to develop projects to remove or modify existing fences to facilitate the Pronghorn migration routes from winter to summer ranges. Using data collected from radio collared Pronghorn, existing routes are identified then plotted. This data is used to identify obstructions in the animal’s routes. Other species in the area, elk and mule deer, also benefit from this activity. Pronghorn prefer going under fences and only in extreme cases do they attempt to jump fences. AAF modifies fencing by removing the bottom strand of barbwire and replacing it with smooth wire 18” above the ground, or in the case of this first project, complete removal.

     Ramrodding this project were: Jeff Gagnon, AZGF Statewide Biologist; Scott Sprague, AZGF Biologist; Roger Joos, Coconino NF Biologist; Travis Largent, Kaibab NF Biologist. Also assisting were Troy Christensen, AZGF; Colin Beach, AZGF; Sarah Bearman, AZGF; and Mike Ebright, AZGF.

      Early arrivals on Friday at the basecamp, located on the west side of Garland Prairie, were treated to a dinner of pulled pork, baked beans and coleslaw, many thanks to our camp cooks, Bill and Mary Keebler. After dinner and evening around the campfire, folks turned in.

     Saturday morning after 14 large pots of coffee and a continental breakfast, at eight a.m. 80 volunteers gathered for an orientation talk by Jeff Gagnon. Jeff gave a brief history of why, how and what we were going to accomplish that day. Volunteers broke up into four groups. Each crew had a wire roller mounted on ATVs, post pullers and hand tools. Then the crews headed out to their work areas, several close to camp and another 2 mile stretch of fence about 12 miles distant. Thanks to our team leaders, Travis, Roger, Scott and Jeff’s guidance, by early afternoon crews had removed over 3 ½ miles of fence, some of it more than 100 years old.  Also removed was about 120 yards of old sheep fence. Fence posts, both wooden and steel T-posts, had been gathered and stockpiled along with countless spools of old wire destined for the recycler. The ranchers take the T-posts for reuse.

     Being the efficient, energetic group of people involved, the rest of the afternoon was spent “lopping” or cutting down young Ponderosa pines, cedars and other brush that were encroaching on a corridor that had been cleared 5 years earlier. Keeping this area open, and as grassland is important as a migration route for the Pronghorn. Pronghorn need open grassland as their eyesight and speed are their only defenses against predation. Congratulations are in order for that crew as they cleared an astounding 130 acres that afternoon. Well done, especially after all the fence work and on a very warm day.

    Back at camp, our cook crew, Mary and Bill, assisted by, Connie Leadabrand were preparing their famous Quesadillas, salsas, etc. to snack on while dinner was being prepared.  Bill’s Tri-Tip, Mary’s Scalloped Potatoes and a huge Green salad were served. Always a great meal followed by sitting around the campfire telling stories, some true, worn out folks, myself included, headed for bed. Sunday morning Mary’s delicious breakfast burritos were enjoyed while everyone broke camp. By 9 a.m. the forest returned to normal as almost everyone headed for home.

    Many thanks to all the participants, too many to list, however, know that each and every one of you contributed to this, another successful work project. As our regular photographer, Betty Dickens, was attending to our VP, Glen Dickens, who is recovering from heart surgery, Kenny Cook took over photography duties. Also assisting with photos was long time contributing member Richard Ockenfels.

    Representing the AAF Board: Ken Meadors, Joe Bill Pickrell, Terry Schupp, Gary Boyer, Kara Jensen, and Robert Velasco. 

  • July 30, 2019 8:45 AM | Deleted user

    The first step in conserving 240 acres southwest of Flagstaff at Rogers Lake has been completed, as the culmination of a unique, collaborative effort involving Camp Navajo-Arizona National Guard, the Army National Guard, Coconino County, and the Central Arizona Land Trust (CALT).

    As a partner with Camp Navajo in the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB), CALT has established the first of two conservation easements that will ultimately conserve 240 acres owned by Coconino County. This property, known as the Frontiere property, is located adjacent to the Rogers Lake County Natural Area, 10 miles southwest of Flagstaff, Arizona.

    Rebecca Ruffner, Board Chair of the Central Arizona Land Trust, stressed the importance of CALT’s most recent conservation effort and its importance to the community.

    “This successful conservation effort will serve a two-fold purpose; it will guarantee permanent conservation of an important wildlife corridor for elk, pronghorn antelope, and other large mammals, and ensure the long-term, compatible land use to sustain the state and national security objectives at Camp Navajo," said Rebecca Ruffner.

    CALT is proud to be a part of planning for the future of Camp Navajo and the region, and the ability to partner with Camp Navajo in a strategic effort to support economic sustainability and strategic conservation.

    “The success of the Army Compatible Use Buffer program on The Arizona National Guard’s eastern boundary of Camp Navajo clearly indicates the level of community commitment to the military missions in Northern Arizona,” said Colonel Ray G. Garcia, Commander of the Arizona Training Centers and Camp Navajo. “Camp Navajo and the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station are strategic assets supporting the Department of Defense and the defense of our Nation, so ensuring the long-term viability of these two installations is critical to our future. The Arizona National Guard has served the community, State and Nation for over 75 years through its resources at Camp Navajo and can only continue to do so if we mitigate potential encroachment through the ACUB program. I want to thank all of the community partners that have made this program successful,” said Col. Garcia.

    Protecting the Frontiere property from development supports improved opportunities for recreation and outdoor experiences at the Rogers Lake County Natural Area as part of the Coconino County Parks and Recreation system.

    “The conservation easement at the Frontiere Property furthers our mission while protecting a beautiful and ecologically valuable asset for today’s and future generations. That is something the County, Central Arizona Land Trust, and the Army National Guard can be very proud of,” said Cynthia Nemeth, Director of Coconino County Parks and Recreation.

    Conserving land around Rogers Lake is extremely important because wetlands are among the most bio-diverse ecosystem types that exist, supporting a very diverse range of animal and plant species.

    “We have a strong partnership with the Central Arizona Land Trust,” said Matt Ryan, Coconino County Supervisor. “The conservation easement on the Frontiere property continues our work in the ephemeral wetlands of Rogers Lake County Natural Area to further protect this community asset for generations to come for activities such as hiking, environmental education, biking, and other outdoor opportunities.”

    CALT background: As a nonprofit organization, CALT has been dedicated to its mission, “to preserve and protect open space, wildlife habitat, working agricultural lands, and the scenic and cultural values of central and northern Arizona for future generations” since 1989. Contact CALT by email at or by phone at (928) 445-7790. More information at:

  • July 08, 2019 12:26 PM | Deleted user

    By Dave Cagle AAF Board Member / AGFD Wildlife Program Manager/Projects

    A third fence project was completed by 73 volunteers east and west of the Rudd Knoll campsite near Big Lake on June 8th in Game Management Unit 1. We modified 4 miles of existing four strand fence in three separate work parties by removing the bottom strand and replacing it with the smooth bottom strand set at 18 inches.  Another work party also inspected and repaired three fences surrounding important high elevation shallow reservoirs, which will protect quality wetland habitat by excluding cattle during the summer grazing season.

    This 3rd project was an integral part of what is known as the Big Lake Pronghorn Initiative lead by the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Pinetop Region in partnership with the AAF. It began in 2013, with the collaring of eight pronghorn on the 9,000-foot elevation grasslands surrounding the Big Lake summer range. The collars permitted daily monitoring and two full years of pronghorn movement data from summer range, where they fawn and breed to winter range and back again through 2015. The 2 key objectives of the collar data were to determine seasonal habitat use and to identify potential bottlenecks on their 20-30mile trek from summer range to winter range and back again. The collar data revealed a key corridor utilized by pronghorn to seasonally go from 9,000-foot elevation summer range near Big Lake to 7,000-foot elevation winter range to the north of HWY 260. In this narrow corridor area, pronghorn must traverse forested areas, cross the Little Colorado River and cross a highway to continue to winter range to the north and again repeat the pattern in reverse in the spring.

    This was the 3rd of five planned annual prioritized volunteer summer fence modification projects that will be used to remove obstacles in the migration corridor and modify key fences on the Big Lake plains for summering pronghorn.

    All activities and coordination were supervised by District Wildlife Manager Jason Capps and yours truly.


    Meals fit for a king and/or queen were provided on Friday and Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday mornings by Bill and Mary Keebler.  Mary’s secret brisket recipe topped off with Bill’s homemade sauce were a Saturday night highlight! Project photos were taken by Betty Dickens, thanks Betty!

    Thanks as well go out to several groups of folks and the many individuals that contributed to the success of this project;

    -Representing the AAF Board:  Ken Meadors, Brian George, Joe Bill Pickrell, Dave Laird, Connie Taylor, Al Sue, Gary Boyer, Robert Velasco and Dave Cagle.

     -Representing the AGFD: Dave Cagle, Roger Thompson, Jason Capps and Troy Christensen

    -Representing the Apache Sitgreaves Forest: Forest Supervisor, Steve Best; Biologists Valerie Horncastle and Mandy Scott.

    -Other AAF members and volunteers: Bill/Mary Keebler, Mike Anderson, Jason Angell, Franklin Armor, Cameron Becker, David Breeden, Robert and Connor Bueche, Cheryl Cagle, Bradley Caylor, Ken and Kathy Cook, Dave Cruce, Betty Dickens, Steven Damm, Mike Ebright, Terry Faley, Eric and Sandra Friend, John and Marilyn Grena, Clair Harris, Johnny Johnson, Art Jordon, Gerald Keller, Bob Krogh, Jay and Connie Leadabrand, Caroline Long, Brad Lough, Ed Marcarelli, Jeff and Gail Marcroft, David McCasland, Bill McClendon, John Millican, Suzanne Moeller, Clifford and Lynn Nystrom, Alan Sandoval, Robert and Susan Seils, Steve Tritz, Mark Vale, Thomas, Jamie, Alexander and Deana Watkins, Darrel Wood, Sadie Lee Thompson, Vilma Vale, Jim Long, Zion Johnson, Westley and Ally Curry, Savannah Thompson, Riley and Keagan Thompson.

    Project highlights including increasing the mobility of pronghorn by modifying four miles of fence was witnessing the birth of a pronghorn fawn right outside our camp on Saturday evening!  The little guy was up and running around mother within two minutes after birth. 

    Thanks everyone for your efforts!

    Photos by Betty Dickens

  • June 28, 2019 8:01 AM | Deleted user

    Article by Gary Boyer AAF Board of Directors:

    On Friday June 28th members of AAF and AGFD met with the ranch manager, Erik Swanson, to discuss possible future projects on the Cross Mountain Ranch. At 10:30 a.m. we gathered at the Jolly Rd. / I-40 off ramp, midway between Seligman and Kingman. There we had a tailgate meeting to outline our plan for the day.

    Cross Mountain Ranch encompasses 36 sections and is used primarily for raising cattle. Erik laid out plans for the future of the ranch that includes Juniper removal to open up more grassland for grazing and wildlife habitat improvements. Also approximately 20+  miles of existing fence consisting of 36” wire mesh, aka Sheep fence, topped with two strands of barbed wire. The plan is to have AAF remove various sections of the fence to promote connectivity for Pronghorn and other wildlife. AAF will plan on doing two work projects a year for the next 5 years beginning in 2020 in the months of April/September removing or modifying fences.

    After the roadside meeting we began our tour of the ranch. The first two stops were to locate and inspect camp sites for our basecamp. Both sites are north of I-40 and offer easy access among the Junipers. As we moved farther north into the ranch we checked out fence lines and the general landscape.

     Next we stopped at two separate wells that are currently not being used. Erik explained that both wells had very good water production in the past with one at a depth of 900’. Also next to the wells are large storage tanks connected to water troughs.  The existing pump jacks were installed in the 1950s and although very interesting, they are no longer functioning. The discussion turned to the feasibility of reactivating the wells most likely with solar powered pumps. Pronghorn does require a water source within one mile of fawning grounds thus the importance of reliable water nearby.

    The ranch is checker boarded with some other land owners and we stopped at one spot were the land owners had built an exclosure fence around their property. Apparently they don’t want terrestrial wildlife on their land, to create a preserve of some type. What was interesting to observe is the grazed land on the Cross Mountain ranch side had a healthy grassland appearance, while the “preserve” side was reverting to scrubby, woody type of flora.

    The field trip was informative and successful in that AAF and AGFD gained a good perspective on what is needed to provide suitable habitat for pronghorn and other species in the area. As we left the ranch just before reaching I-40 a group of 8 pronghorn gracefully ran across our path as if to say either “get out of here” or more likely “thanks for looking out for us”.

    AAF thanks the Cross Mountain ranch, Erik Swanson and AGFD for an outstanding field trip. Also in attendance were Kingman Region 3 AGFD personnel Erin Butler Wildlife Program Supervisor, Wade Zarlingo, Landowner Program Specialist and Elizabeth Johnston, Habitat Evaluation and Lands Specialist. Also attending AAF Glen Dickens VP/Grants/Projects Manager, past AAF President and founding member Jim McCasland,  Betty Dickens our resident photographer and yours truly.

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