Trout Unlimited is known for its rock-rolling work where we are often found with our waders on making rivers and streams better for trout and salmon, and of course, anglers. But we also spend plenty of time in our finest attire in the halls of state and federal legislative buildings advocating for smart water policies, protecting public lands and funding allocations to continue our on-the-ground efforts.
With Arizona’s legislative session ramping up, here is a look at some of the bills we are watching and how we’ll play both offense and defense to advance our goals of conserving, protecting and restoring our coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.
HB2056 – This bill, introduced by Rep. Griffin, allows instream water rights holders to have more flexibility with their allocated water allowing for better habitat for aquatic species as well as downstream users. The concern for many water rights holders is the loss of that water right, but this bill would allow these holders to keep more water in the stream for beneficial use while maintaining their water rights.
HB2247 – Also, introduced by Rep. Griffin, this bill would offer tax incentives for companies willing to help with the massive task of removing slash/biomass from areas within the 4FRI footprint and surrounding forest area. We have coined this the “biomass bottleneck” because with thinning and creating healthier forests comes a massive amount (up to 50 tons per acre) of small timber, limbs, shrubs and smaller debris that also needs to be removed. Without this tax credit, there is little incentive for removal of this product; therefore, making forest thinning nearly impossible. Companion legislation has also been introduced in the Senate, SB1177 with Sen. Kerr as the primary sponsor.
HB2127 – The AZ Heritage Fund would give $10 million to park and trail maintenance. Introduced by Representatives Osborne: Blackman, Bowers, Chávez, Cook, Dunn, Hernandez A, Jermaine, Lieberman; and Nutt. This bill has a good chance of passing and would be a boon to anglers, hunters and recreationists across the state.
Of course, we’ll keep our readers updated on the happenings in Arizona’s legislature, and we’ll reach out if we need assistance in advocating for these and perhaps other bills. Keep an eye on TU.org and our Facebook page for the AZTU council for more.