Arizona Hunters Support Investment in Natural Infrastructure

By Laura Reese, Artemis Ambassador – Arizona

As the owner of a public relations firm in Tucson, most of my days are spent championing the work of my fellow Arizonans. But a few sacred weeks a year, I get to go hunting. And when I hunt in Arizona, I experience a gratitude, joy, and fraternity that renews me all year long. I feel gratitude for the resources that sustain me. I feel joy for the quiet mornings spent observing animals in ponderosa pine forests. And I feel fraternity with the friends and family I get to hunt with, as well as all the countless others who share my deep love and desire to protect Arizona’s public lands.

I am so thankful for the privilege to chase game and feed my friends with a harvest bounty. It’s my love of those ponderosa forests and the animals that inhabit them, that compel me to advocate for their survival.

Over the past 10 years, I have seen tremendous changes in the wildlife habitat in our forests and watersheds in our state. Last year, wildfires destroyed nearly a million acres of our land in Arizona. This year, a half-million acres have already burned up. These extreme events displace wildlife, threaten our communities and alter our ability to hunt and fish. After the fires are out, the destruction continues every time it rains and sediment pours into our streams and rivers, killing fish and threatening drinking water supplies.

Part of the problem is that our forests and watersheds have been neglected, allowing fuels to accumulate so that megafires can rage. One such fire in 2017 destroyed Mt Graham, including streams where rare and native Gila trout live. Last October (instead of harvesting game) I was able to help state biologists backpack Gila trout into recovered streams. But so much more is needed to rehabilitate and protect Arizona’s lands and animals. 

Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon. Congress is poised to make historic investments in forest and natural infrastructure restoration. Those investments would fund shovel-ready projects in Arizona that would restore our forests and streams, and improve hunting and angling in the process. It would also strengthen our communities through more jobs, as well as conserving the wild places where we find personal and spiritual renewal, returning to our jobs refreshed and inspired.

I urge Senators Kelly and Sinema to ensure we invest in natural infrastructure. Such restoration projects will restore wildlife habitat, rehabilitate our lands and waters, protect communities from wildfires, and improve hunting and fishing all while creating jobs to boost our economy. It’s a win-win-win for Arizona.

A resident of Tucson, Laura loves to hunt and explore Arizona’s bounty of public lands. When not dreaming of the next outdoor adventure, she runs Storyteller Public Relations, a PR firm that specializes in urban infill businesses and redevelopment projects. She loves to cook with wild game and will host any friend or family member willing to try Arizona’s original wild, organic and delicious meat.