As people that live in, or visit the Rim Country, we are fortunate to have many chances to enjoy Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources. Within a few minutes’ drive of Payson you can see a multitude of game and non-game animals as well as hundreds of species of birds and fish. Working behind the scenes to preserve and enhance Arizona’s wildlife and habitat are conservation groups, volunteers and outdoorsmen that along with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Tonto National Forest and local agricultural producers contribute millions of dollars and countless hours dedicated to our natural resources.

The Mogollon Sporting Association (MSA) has made several contributions to the area’s wildlife and youth programs over the years. Some examples from this past year include MSA partnering with the 7 Slash K ranch providing $21,000 worth of funding to develop five springs and run almost 17,000 feet of pipeline to nine new water troughs that will distribute water to an abundance of wildlife and cattle. In 2020 MSA also provided $7,500 worth of funding to the O Bar C ranch to install a solar pump on an artesian well that will keep a large storage tank full of water and distribute it across part of the dry desert landscape of Tonto Basin to supply much needed water to the area. Those are just two recent examples of the many local contributions made by the Mogollon Sporting Association.

The Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation (AZSFWC) produces the Arizona Wildlife license plate. That money along with other funding is used to benefit wildlife across the state of Arizona. Last year the AZSFWC provided $13,000 locally for water improvements on the H4 ranch. The project converted an old windmill to solar power and paid for a holding tank and pipeline to distribute much needed water across the landscape. This funding came at a good time helping restore some water distribution lost in the Bush Fire.

There are so many conservation organizations and volunteers that it would be impossible to write about all the wonderful work they do in one article.

In 2019, the Mule Deer Foundation provided $25,000 worth of funding to help with restoration after the Woodberry fire. Along with monetary contributions, the Arizona Elk Society has an army of volunteers constantly at work across Northern Arizona. Every year the Arizona Mule Deer Organization, the Arizona Deer Association and MSA host two youth deer and elk camps in the area teaching conservation along with safe and ethical hunting practices to our youth. Since 2018, local volunteers Keith Niver and Roger Rohrbach have hauled over 60,000 gallons of water to local wildlife drinkers logging over 1,400 volunteer hours. They are also constantly working on wildlife waters in the area to keep them functioning.

These are just a few recent examples. Volumes could actually be written about all the contributions from conservation groups in Arizona. So the next time you’re out enjoying everything that the Rim Country offers, take a minute to remember the amazing men and women that volunteer countless hours and millions of dollars for the benefit of Arizona’s wildlife. If you see one of these groups out working, take the time to say thank you. If you would like to get involved, contact one of these organizations, they’re always looking for good people that are passionate about wildlife.

Daniels is a Wildlife manager with Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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