Several wildlife agencies are coming together Saturday to improve wildlife habitat and ask the public's help to complete the work project.
As part of Field & Stream magazine's Hero for a Day program, and in conjunction with the Mule Deer Foundation, volunteers from state and federal programs, including Arizona Game & Fish and the Arizona Antelope Foundation, will participate in a one-day project to improve habitat for mule deer and pronghorns by replacing fencing over a two-to-three-mile segment near Dugas.
"We'll be pulling the barbwire off the lower strands and replacing it with smooth wire, so mule deer fawns and pronghorns can pass underneath," Terry Herndon, regional director for the Arizona Southern Nevada Mule Deer Foundation, said. "We'll also lower the top wire on another section so the deer's hooves don't get caught - that's a horrible death."
The groups also will recycle removed wire and coils that have been abandoned in the area over the years.
Herndon said he hopes for 30 volunteers so the work can be finished on Saturday.
"That would be awesome," Herndon said. "It's something else to see volunteers working to make life better for wildlife. Our motto is 'saving mule deer one acre at a time.'"
He said Arizona's drought, as well as a 1994 trapping law that's increased predators, have caused a decline in mule deer population.
Herndon said Daryl Polland, chair for a soon-to-be chartered Prescott area chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation, also is involved.
"Hero for a Day is an opportunity for residents to take action in sustaining and protecting fish, wildlife, and habitat in their area," said Amanda McNally, Field & Stream's director of public relations.
Added Mike Toth, the magazine's executive editor, "It's a great opportunity to meet some of the nation's most passionate conservationists, reconnect with the outdoors, roll up your sleeves and make a big difference in your community ─ all with just a single day's work."
Work takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Volunteers should dress in long sleeves, long pants and closed-toed shoes to protect themselves from rattlesnakes and thorns. It's also a good idea to wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen. Bring work gloves and wire snippers, if available. MDF will provide tools, lunch, and a celebratory barbecue supper.
"It helps to have great partners like Field & Stream, Toyota, BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Arizona Game & Fish Dept. Public lands and wildlife are a treasure that all Americans should help conserve," MDF President and CEO Miles Moretti said.
In its third year, Field & Stream's Hero for a Day program, in collaboration with Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., raises awareness of conservation groups' local efforts. This spring, the magazine will spotlight 10 Hero for a Day projects across the country.
The local project takes place on the Tonto National Forest's Sycamore Mesa. Volunteers should meet at the Mule Deer Foundation campsite. Take Exit 268 off I-17. Follow Dugas Road east about 4 miles, until it meets the Yellow Jacket and Ash creeks on the south side of the road. Look for Mule Deer Foundation signs.