It isn’t often you get a chance to profoundly affect the quality of life of people you’ve never met.
Water and the Arizona Lifestyle
Will Rogers said, “Buy Land, they ain’t making it any more”. That’s still good advice, but in Arizona we can invent our own truism, “Take care of our water, we’ll never have anymore than we do right now”.
Arizona’s continued growth and healthy economy are closely tied to water supplies. But there’s another factor that make our water even more precious – its impact on the lifestyle of Arizona’s residents.
Water in every form, from the giant reservoirs on the Salt and Colorado rivers to the tiniest stream in the White Mountains – water is a magnet to desert dwellers. We cruise on it, camp beside it, swim, fish and water ski. We cook out and bask in the sun; hike the trails, hold family sing-a-longs around the evening campfire; or enjoy a dinner cruise under a full moon on Lake Powell, Havasu, Pleasant or Canyon.
We love water. It soothes and saves and heals. Our Arizona family eagerly anticipates a day or weekend on the water. When we return, refreshed and renewed, memories linger. Stuck in traffic or deskbound, we can close our eyes and be transported to a slice of beach in some lonesome canyon – our own, personal canyon. And, suddenly the day looks bright again.
So water-based recreation, in all its many forms, is an important part of the Arizona lifestyle; a potent antidote to life’s stresses, a magic power to heal.
Lakes where there were no Lakes
Lakes are new arrivals on the Arizona scene. A century ago there were no lakes in our state – except in a few high country areas that held water in very wet years. Then we began building dams for irrigation, flood control and power generation. Beginning with Roosevelt in 1911 and ending with Lake Powell in early 1963, the role call is impressive: Powell, Mead and Havasu on the Colorado; Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon and Saguaro on the Salt; Horseshoe and Bartlett on the Verde; Pleasant on the Agua Fria; San Carlos on the Gila; and Alamo on the Bill Williams. Add several dozen trout lakes in the high country and you have more than 100,000 acres of water sounding siren calls to desert dwellers.
It’s impossible to put a dollar value on the total outdoor experience, but here’s what fishermen mean to the Arizona economy:
512,167 Arizona Adult fishermen spent $358 million on trips and equipment
9,325 full-time jobs
$187.5 million in wages
$21.0 million in state tax revenues
$18.7 million on federal tax revenues
And – most important – they spend 4,600,000 days fishing
High Noon on the Water
Our lakes turned out to be a “build it and they will come” situation. We weren’t ready for the explosion of water-based recreation…it caught us by surprise. The demand far outstripped the facilities.
Oh, there was a boat launch ramp or two on some lakes; marinas with basic services on a few of the larger reservoirs or streamside camping, but not much else. There didn’t need to be. But that’s all changed. Boy, has it changed!
Let’s talk fish. A majority of those who visit Arizona’s lakes and streams do some fishing. A good fishing lake has abundant habitat in the form of submerged trees, bushes, rock piles, etc. The habitat holds food too, in the form of zooplankton and other basic building blocks of the food chain. But the natural trees and bushes that once existed in our reservoirs are long gone. Vast stretches of lake bottom are as smooth as a bathtub. No cover, No fish!
Anglers United to the Rescue
Anglers United began back in 1982, with a dozen concerned sportsmen and business leaders getting together to talk about the “fish and facilities” dilemma. They held fund raising banquets and began to look for worthy “on the water” projects.
The first major venture was a first for Arizona – a public fishing dock on Canyon Lake, with access for the physically challenged. After Arizona’s Coors Distributors furnished the “seed” money, a wonderful thing happened. A variety of State and Federal agencies (Tonto National Forest took the lead) recognized the value of the project and wanted to be a part of it.
So, the Coors’ money, and some donated by Anglers United, was matched, and then matched again by businesses and public agencies. Materials and expertise were donated and volunteers assembled special long-lasting artificial habitat to be placed beneath the dock, to ensure better fishing (click here to read about these structures). The project escalated from a modest $50,000 or so to nearly $500,000, to include parking and a first class picnic area with restrooms and armadas.
Now It’s Your Turn
There’s a great sense of satisfaction in seeing Arizona waters transformed, sharing them with families out to spend a day in the outdoors, realizing your efforts are helping to make the quality of life better in Arizona.
But there’s frustration too. There are thousands of families who don’t own boats. They want more dockside fishing; more hiking trails beside the water, more facilities of all kinds.
How well have we done? Anglers United has raised more than two million dollars so far. With it, we’ve wheeled and cajoled and matched and matched again – making room for more partners while spearheading projects totaling more than forty million dollars.
That’s a pretty good return!
Here’s our guarantee. We’ll take your contribution and see that it’s matched and matched again, so you get maximum bang for your buck. We’ll give you progress reports all along the way. If you’d like to sponsor a specific project or part of a specific project – say a fishing dock or access trail or a specific cove on a lake – we can do that too!
What is Your Return?
A day or two on the water, getting back to basics, means better family relationships, a refreshing outlook on life, better parents, and better citizens. Even better employees on Monday morning. What kind of outdoor heritage do we want to leave behind? Twenty-five or fifty years from now will those who follow salute our foresight? The word “recreation” contains the phrase “re-create”. No more playing catch-up.
The Time is Now
Let’s turn Possibilities Into Realities.