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February 10, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Bass at Roosevelt Lake

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Game and Fish Department is spending $356,000 to increase the bass population at Roosevelt Lake. Curtis Gill, an Arizona Game and Fish Fisheries Program Manager, will talk about the effort to introduce a fast-growing Florida species of bass to Roosevelt Lake.
  • Curtis Gill - Program Manager, Arizona Game and Fish Fisheries
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, fish, bass, arizona, roosevelt, lake, population, species,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Arizona game and fish department is spending $356 thousand, to increase the bass population at Roosevelt Lake by introducing a fast-growing Florida species of bass. Here to explain is Curtis Gill, fisheries program manager at Arizona Game and Fish. It's good to have you. This is fascinating. I had no idea this kind of a problem existed out here. Why is this increase again needed, bass at Roosevelt Lake?

Curtis Gill: Well, over recent years we've noted a big decline in our fish populations there, we've noted about a 75% decline in our catch rates for large-mouth bass. About an 80% decline in our bluegill fish catching rates. Same with the black croppy, it's declined about 80 % and a decline in the condition of those fish.

Ted Simons: And why is that? What's going on?

Curtis Gill: There could be a number of factors. We've had gizzard shad showed up for the first time in Roosevelt Lake in 2007, that's an illegally introduced species that can compete with sport fish in the larva stage and can also -- They outgrow the gape size so quickly they're unavailable as forage. We've also had large mouth bass show up, it was first detected in 2011, though we haven't seen declines yet, it has been shown to cause declines in other states. We have decreasing water levels at Roosevelt Lake. It's been on the decline for the past three or four years during the spring, at the time when the fish are spawning. So that can dry out their spawning sites and you can have really poor reproductive classes. Additionally, we've also seen golden algae, we've had major fish kills at other lakes, back in the mid 2000s as result of golden algae, basically eliminating the small mouth populations at Apache Lake, so we noted our first fish kills at Roosevelt in 2012. We have a number of things that have collided at once there that have attributed to these declines in our fish populations.

Ted Simons: That's a big -- Roosevelt seems to me, was once considered a huge bass location, like one of the best in the country.

Curtis Gill: Yeah. It was noted as one of the best in the country, and it's our second highest in anglen use in the state.

Ted Simons: I want to go through these a little finer tune here in a second. But what about, I've read about this, other lakes and other parts of the country, cormorants are being blamed for lots of fish dying off and fish levels slowing. Are cormorants a problem at Roosevelt Lake?

Curtis Gill: Not at Roosevelt Lake. We do have some issues at urban lakes, like Tempe Town Lake and some other smaller urban lakes, but at lake like Roosevelt we don't have the population of cormorants we're seeing.

Ted Simons: Not that big of concern.

Curtis Gill: Not at Roosevelt.

Ted Simons: You mentioned gizzard shad, this is a fish invasive?

Curtis Gill: Yes.

Ted Simons: And it's pushing out the smaller shad?

Curtis Gill: Correct. Fred finch shad grow only sixth or seven inches maximum length, where as gizzard shad can grow up to sixteen to eighteen inches. And they can grow are terror eight inches within their first year of life. So they quickly outgrow the size most fish can eat them, sport fish can eat them.

Ted Simons: Even the large mouth bass, not as large a mouth needed?

Curtis Gill: That's one of the things maybe the Florida strain can help. They grow faster and larger than the northern strain we have, so it's possible they may be able to eat some of these gizzard shad.

Ted Simons: Talk about this Florida species. They're faster producing, what are they super bass?

Curtis Gill: No, they're just a strain of large mouth bass that typically do well in warmer climates. In Florida especially, they're known for their fast growth and then the size they can attain. And so Arizona, we have very similar conditions to some of these other states that have shown success with Florida strain large mouth bass like Texas and Oklahoma have had good success growing larger bass using the Florida strain.

Ted Simons: Are they as easy or are they more difficult to catch?

Curtis Gill: That kind of depends. There's been studies that shown they are a little more difficult to catch. But there's also studies that say they're basically the same. It's kind of mixed on the research that you read.

Ted Simons: When they're more difficult to catch, they're just smarter than the average bass? What's the?

Chuck Essigs: smarter --

Ted Simons: Just wary of lures?

Curtis Gill: Yeah.

Ted Simons: Are they more expensive than our Arizona homegrown bass?

Curtis Gill: They're fairly expensive. I don't know that they're more expensive, but bass in general are just -- They're right now I think the going right on large mouth bass is $20 per pound. So almost $20 a pound. They're fairly expensive.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the falling lake levels. Not as many nutrients, not as many hiding places. Talk about this, the idea that some artificial reefs, Arizona bass like to hide spring?

Curtis Gill: Many of our reservoirs in Arizona, they're typically fairly devoid of any kind of aquatic habitat. Roosevelt Lake does have a lot of submerged trees, things like that to provide habitat, but it's been down in elevation for three or four years, so it's only about 48% full right now. So when it's at that elevation these reservoirs were formed in steep canyons -- A riverbed basically, so there's not a lot of habitat. So one way we're hoping to help counteract the declines is give spaces for young fish to avoid predation from other fish and grow.

Ted Simons: I did read, tell me if I'm wrong, that the large mouth bass here in Arizona, they like to hide and attack and use some of these hiding places as opposed to this Florida species which is so big they say here I am I'm going to come get you.

Curtis Gill: Well, in all honesty I'm not familiar with that difference.

Ted Simons: All right. Maybe I read too much into the difference between those. The impact on local businesses, hotels, marinas, we can talk all we want about sports Fishermen and what they're going with, it's a concern, but there's a business aspect to this too.

Curtis Gill: There is. And we've actually been meeting with some of the local communities up there in that Roosevelt area, we've had -- Hosted three public meetings to date and we'll be hosting another in March to get their feedback on their perceived concerns, and what the issues they think, and how we can address those issues and try to help them out. Because they have voiced they have seen some pretty significant financial impacts from the fishing decline.

Ted Simons: You've mentioned this was kind of a perfect storm. Is that storm continuing, are conditions changing, is it kind of a looting goalpost?

Curtis Gill: The one thing we did most with the decline in other fish species, we did see a decline in our gizzard shad population. Whether that's going to be a long-term trend, I don't know. But as far as other factors, like the golden algae, unless we get precipitation the latter part of this winter, there's a really good chance we can have golden algae fish kill this summer because it's triggered by higher connectivity levels, so when we don't have the runoff in the salt river system those levels rise and we can see fish kills related to golden algae.

Ted Simons: Last question here, just out of my curiosity, how do you know how many fish are in the lake? How do you do samplings, how does that work?

Curtis Gill: We do sampling with electrofishing boat and gill nets. So electrofishing boat is our primary tool we use for sampling large mouth bass, that's the most effective way to do that. And basically it's just -- We have booms off the front of our boat that put a positive charge in the water and the fish are drawn to that, they come up, they're stunned momentarily, we net them, weigh them, measure them, and get good information on the species status basically.

Ted Simons: All right. So when are we going to see these Florida bass flopping around?

Curtis Gill: This spring. We're hoping to get them in this spring and stock up again in the fall with Florida strain large mouth bass and crappie and blue gill.

Ted Simons: We hope it works. Thanks for joining us.

Curtis Gill: Thanks for having me.

Broadband for Schools

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  • Governor Jan Brewer has proposed expanding the state’s internet broadband infrastructure for schools at a cost of $350 million. However, the plan is meeting some resistance from school officials because it calls for schools to pay for it. Chuck Essigs, director of governmental relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, will talk about the plan.
  • Chuck Essigs - Director of Governmental Relations, Arizona Association of School Business Officials
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, broadband, schools, internet, plan, cost,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The governor's office is proposing a plan to expand internet broadband infrastructure for schools at a cost of $350 million. But the plan is facing opposition from school officials. Joining us now is Chuck Essigs, director of governmental relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials. Good to see you again.

Chuck Essigs: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Broadband infrastructure across Arizona. This is a very important stuff, and we've got a ways to go to catch up to other states.

Chuck Essigs: We certainly do. And we've had many years where we haven't done as much as other states. But it impacts our schools, our libraries, it impacts our hospitals, all our individuals.

Ted Simons:: And the importance again to education, because that's your focus. Talk to us about that.

Chuck Essigs: It connects education and students to the world. Part of it, what's being focused on is the testing program. Because the new testing program to the state will be an online testing program. That's only for a small portion of the year. Main thing with the internet, not only in Arizona, but in all other states, they're using it for students to access information globally, to be connected, to do courses online. It just has such great influence on a student's education.

Ted Simons: If we are lagging 15 to 20 years behind and here's a plan now to spend $350 million to get back up to speed, what's the problem?

Chuck Essigs: There is absolutely no problem with the plan. I've not talked to a school person who isn't excited to see this coming to Arizona. But so should everybody else in the state. It would really move our state into the super highway information highway mode. What concerns schools is how it's being funded. They object to the fact they're being singled out and having to pay a portion of the cost themselves, where other portions of the state that will benefit really aren't being assessed the cost. It's something great for the state to do and something good for the state to fund.

Ted Simons: And this is $15 per student for six years, something along those lines?

Chuck Essigs: Yes, that's correct.

Ted Simons: So $15 million maybe a year for six years?

Chuck Essigs: $90 million.

Ted Simons: The total cost of $350 million, schools, sounds like that's about a quarter of the total cost. Correct?

Chuck Essigs: That's correct.

Ted Simons: And the general fund would be a quarter of the cost and private firm pays what?

Chuck Essigs: They say the private companies will pay about half of the cost. Because they'll benefit from it, because they'll be -- They will own the system and than able to market the service.

Ted Simons: So a quarter of the cost you think that's still too much for schools to pay?

Chuck Essigs: Definitely. When you look at -- First thing I just went on the internet today, broadband creates jobs, broadband a small catalyst for small business growth. It will be such an economic boom to Arizona, but I don't know how you assess who benefits the most? Libraries are going to benefit, schools are going to benefit, hospitals are going to benefit, doctors are going to benefits, people's businesses going to benefit. So why single out schools? This is something the state ought to take responsibility for. And people have heard this before, schools have been hit hard over the last five years with budget cuts, and it's one more thing they don't need to pay for.

Ted Simons: I know there's an argument that schools could pay for this through the inflation adjusted funds. Your thoughts on that?

Chuck Essigs: Inflation adjustment funding is to do just that, so schools don't lose ground to inflation, which they’ve lost ground over the past five years. You're right, you could use that to pay for just about anything, but it defeats the purpose, inflation funding is so schools can keep pace win inflation so they don't have to cut programs.

Ted Simons: The idea of the schools, a quarter of the total cost, the fee was go to the state, could you leverage that money to get federal money, you leverage the federal money to get more private development in here. The schools are a part of the community, many cases the focus of a community, a lot of lawmakers I'm hearing saying why not?

Chuck Essigs: Well, when you look at the schools in most communities are the center of the community. When the information gets to the school, it's going to be available to everybody in the community. So why doesn't the state make that -- I was quoted in the paper, when they built the highway to Flagstaff, they didn't charge Camp Verde because Camp Verde was going to benefit. That's the same way we shouldn't charge schools. A lot of schools have done a lot of the work already. And they're going to be charged $15 per student where some district that hasn't done anything -- So there's a fairness issue involved, but also if there's anything the state should do, this is it.

Ted Simons: So if that's not the best idea as far as funding, what is a good idea?

Chuck Essigs: A really good idea is the internet tax that is most likely going to be in place in most states. Right now a lot of the internet sales are not taxed unless the company has a presence in their own state with a warehouse. The federal government is pretty close to changing that, and once they do, Arizona's estimated to get $100-700 million in additional revenue every year. What a better place to use some of that money early on to get this project completed, and once it's done they can use the money for other purposes. Because the reason that people can shop on the internet is because they have access to the internet. And expanding internet will expand that concept.

Ted Simons: And yet there's already talk of maybe cutting Arizona income taxes correspondingly to what those internet taxes might be in order to keep Arizona consumers from facing a tax hike.

Chuck Essigs: I don't think it's a tax hike, because if you would have purchased a television in Arizona at a store, would you have paid the sales tax. You purchase it online you don't pay the sales tax. It's just an equity issue. Other purchases are covered.

Ted Simons: With a quarter of the funding coming from schools, and school officials saying that's too much, what isn't too much? An eighth, a 16th? What?

Chuck Essigs: I think people ought to look at it differently. They ought to look at, this benefits everyone in the state. Rather than trying to figure out who benefits by what percentage, this is something that the state should take on and get it in place and then the districts and homeowners and everybody else can pay the annual fees to use it. But I don't know how you determine who benefits by how much.

Ted Simons: Indeed, last question, senator Don Shooter, who is very much behind this, says it's good for the community, hospitals, government agencies, they can all tap in along with the schools. It's all good. Everyone is contributing, you're just saying too much on the backs of the kids?

Chuck Essigs: He proved my point. Of that group you just listed the only one being assessed a fee is schools. Everybody else is going to benefit and they're not being assessed the $15 per student or anything similar to what schools are. So he's basically proved the point this is something good for a wide variety of people, why not have the state take that responsibility on?

Ted Simons: General fund a quarter of the amount paid as well in this particular plan. More, you think, should come from the state?

Chuck Essigs: Maybe the private sector can make a greater contribution. We also have, if you notice the president has proposed $750 million I think of new money from businesses, the E-rate is going to be doubled. There's going to be a lot of money coming from the federal government and from businesses to help. Maybe that will cover a good portion of the cost?

Ted Simons: Where do you see this headed? Are people talking about this?

Chuck Essigs: There's a lot of discussion, and I just want to repeat, schools are very much in favor of this. It's just the method they chose to fund it that schools don't think is fair.

Ted Simons: All right. Chuck, it's good to see you.

Chuck Essigs: I'm glad to be here. Thank you.

Optimal Aging

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  • The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Arizona State University will hold a forum on “optimal aging.” Six speakers will present information on the latest research on the topic. Richard Knopf, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the ASU College of Public programs, will talk about the event and optimal aging.
  • Richard Knopf - Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, asu, optimal, aging, research, information,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: ASU's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute is holding a forum on aging this Saturday at the ASU nursing building in downtown Phoenix. The event is called "Abundant Aging and Longevity" and will feature speakers presenting the latest research on a variety of age-related issues. Here now is Richard Knopf, director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute-- It is Osher, correct?

Richard Knopf: That's correct.

Ted Simons: I want to make sure I get it right. It's going to be around for a while. The focus here is optimal aging. Define optimal aging.

Richard Knopf: I would love to. I'd like to start with the notion, did you know at the turn of the century the life span was 47 years? And we're up to 87 years now. So what is happening, we have a preponderance of older adults with a lot of gifts, a lot of ways to contribute to society, and historically many people looked at older adults as frail. So the whole idea is to flip that whole paradigm around and start looking at older adults with abundance and ways to contribute to society.

Ted Simons: And the event is titled "Abundant Aging and Longevity." That's what you're talking about, but it sounds to me like you're talking about folks who aren't necessarily aging. It's the other folks looking at the aging folks and saying, you're not so frail anymore.

Richard Knopf: That's right. And the reason this all came about is we started looking at the medical side of the house and we have an event that will look at breaking medical news, and the more we poked around ASU, we found out that's just a piece of the equation. There's things called community formation, there's caregiving elements, there's a lot of scientists doing a lot of work on how to create optimal aging processes, only some of which is related to medicine.

Ted Simons: Indeed. I notice you had speakers talking about Alzheimer's, and memory issues, and healthier brains, the study of bees and mice on healthier brains.

Richard Knopf: It's amazing.

Ted Simons: That sounds fascinating. Other issues, if you have a chronic illness and you're older, you could be spending quite a few years managing that particular illness.

Richard Knopf: Yes. And that's where the social environment comes in. We've done a lot of research on abundant aging. If you think of four cylinders in an engine, there's four things that have to work well. One is being physically fit. And physically alive. The second is cognition and being cognitively alive. We've always heard the saw I work crossword puzzles because it's good for my brain, but it's deeper than that. Neuropsychologists have talked about flexible cognition. Where different neural nets start working together, and that's different than ROTE learning. So the whole idea of the Osher institute is to expose people to cause and effect the reasons why things work, not just how and what to do. That's the second thing. And the third thing is actually the sense of community. There's some very sobering statistics put out by the AARP, and what they've shown is in the last 10 years, older adults feeling of loneliness has skyrocketed. Some 15 % more older adults feel lonely. The flip side, those who are doing research on that phenomenon find that people involved in community and involved with their family and friends, are interested on passing things along in the next generation, their rates of depression go way down. The fourth element, I almost forgot, is the feeling of self-efficacy. A feeling you're important, that you have a way to contribute. This all ties together in that medicine is only one piece of the equation in abundant living.

Ted Simons: Another speaker will talk about the literary and cultural ways to make every moment count.

Richard Knopf: Exactly.

Ted Simons: Interesting. So basically you're talking about the arts and the impact on aging.

Richard Knopf: The arts and also he'll be sharing through history of literature how people have approached older adults, sort of looking at the end of life, and he's going to tie it into some meditative principles of how do you refrain the whole direction of your life? So you have a more abundant life.

Ted Simons: What about the issue of boomers balancing and maybe optimizing caregiving and their own, taking care of themselves? That's -- You talk about turn of the century, that's a new phenomenon too.

Richard Knopf: It's huge. Sandwiched. We often hear that word. And Dr. Kuhn will be speaking about that very issue of how to actually balance your own lives as you do the caregiving for your family.

Ted Simons: Is this an evolving issue? Is this something we're learning something new all the time? It sounds like it is, because as you mentioned, it's something that hasn't necessarily been around.

Richard Knopf: Yes. And that's the phenomenal part of ASU in which I'm very proud. The revelations are just incomprehensible, happening every month. So, yes, we're proud of that.

Ted Simons: The Osher lifelong learning institute, give us a synopsis.

Richard Knopf: A brief synopsis, part of Michael Crow's vision for an age-friendly University. That is to open the doors of the University to all components of society. We offer short courses, $35 a pop, about 150-160 course as year, it's literally simulating the ASU experience. You can come in and have a short course, no test, four session on sociology. Or on neuropsychology. Or robots and the planets. To bring older adults access to ASU intellectual, cultural and social experiences.

Ted Simons: All right. “Abundant Aging and Longevity” this, is 9a.m. to noon on the 15th at the nursing college.

Richard Knopf: Exactly.

Ted Simons: All right. Almost remembered that one myself.

Richard Knopf: You're good.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here.

Richard Knopf: Thank you very much.