Let me start out this spring article by saying thank you to those who have been traveling in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, enjoying its beauty. Spring is a great time of year to get outdoors and enjoy nature. Out on the range, the wildlife continues to flourish; I have seen a lot of birds (quail and dove), bobcats, javelina, coyotes, and of course our bald eagles.
This is a very exciting time of year for our eagles as it is nesting time, when the they lay their eggs. A successful year for bald eagles is largely determined by whether or not their eggs or eaglets survive during this crucial part of their development. If the bald eagles are disturbed, they could abandon their nest and offspring, so please avoid activity in these areas. Absolutely no one should be in the area of the nests. If you see any vehicles or persons around the nests, we encourage you to contact the Salt River Police Department (SRPD) at (480) 850-2000 or Environmental Protection and Natural Resources (EPNR) at (480) 362-7500. You are the “eyes and ears” in the Community. We depend on your vigilance to keep the eagles safe. The Community is very fortunate to have “Nest Watchers,” and they will call the police or EPNR to report any person or any vehicle near the nests.
All persons, whether they are Community members or non-Community members, are subject to tribal and federal bald eagle protection laws. Federal law (16 USC 668-668d) states “… no person shall … molest or disturb any part of the eagle or nest … the violator may have items seized and possibly forfeited to the Federal Government….” As an enrolled Community member, you do have cultural rights; if you would like eagle feathers, we ask that you please communicate with EPNR to obtain them through an established process that does not harm our eagles.
Dogs and Livestock
According to Salt River Community Ordinances, all dogs in the Community older than four months must have a current license and collar. If roaming at large, dogs may be subject to transport to the Maricopa County Animal Control and treated as a stray. If you are the owner of a dog, you are responsible for its actions, which means if the dog bites someone or attacks another dog, you may be held criminally or civilly liable. Please keep your dogs on your property, and most important keep its collar and license on, which will help keep your dog in your possession.
SRPD Ranger Bureau officers and patrol officers have been responding to roaming domestic horses and cows inside the Community. Per SRCO 12-8, you are not permitted to allow domestic animals, which includes horses and cows, to run at large in any locality or within the Community boundaries. Please regularly inspect your corral areas to ensure your livestock are safely secured.
On the Range and River
The ground is covered with dry vegetation, and this poses an extreme brush fire danger. Per the Salt River Fire Department Fire Prevention Division, there is no open burning. This means no wood or charcoal fires, and no smoking at the river. One hot ember, ash or hot coal is all it takes to start a wildfire. For cooking out at the river, please use propane only; this is a controllable flame. Also, the river area is a place of tranquility, and no alcoholic beverages shall be allowed at the river.
Unfortunately, during a recent cleanup we noticed a lot of trash and debris on the ground, while the trash cans were empty. Rangers would like to ask you to kindly put all trash in the trash cans. If a can is overflowing, please let us know. To those of you who have left your area clean after you leave, we can’t thank you enough. We would like to keep our river clean for our youth, and their youth, to enjoy for a very long time.
This time of year is snake season, when the temperatures start to warm up and the snakes are out looking for food. Beware when you visit the river. If you encounter a snake, leave it alone and never attempt to pick it up. Just walk away, giving it plenty of room. When you hear the snake “rattle”… it’s a warning to stay away.
With the warm weather comes the enjoyment of swimming in the cool waters of the Verde and Salt rivers. As a reminder, please watch your children around water. Make sure smaller children wear some type of floatation device, and never take your eyes off them, not even for a second.
Hunting and Fishing
Several Community members have asked us if they can bring along a friend who is not a Community member to go hunting or fishing. The answer is yes, but they must first obtain a SRPMIC permit (SRCO 15-12) from Administration. SRCO 15-11 states that any enrolled member of SRPMIC shall have the right to hunt and fish upon the lands of SRPMIC; however, also please remember that all single-shot and semi-automatic weapons, whether owned by Community members or non-Community members, must be issued a SRPMIC firearms permit by the Salt River Police Department. Contact Curtis Thomas at SRPD Communications, (480) 850-8200, for the application form and details about how to apply for a permit.
For the “loggers” in the Community, please go to the SRPD Administration Building (the old Finance building) and talk to the front-desk staff to obtain wood-cutting permits. When you are out gathering wood, you must have the permit with you, be driving the vehicle recorded on the permit, and obey all applicable laws. If you have questions about where to harvest the wood, please contact SRPD Rangers at (480) 850-8200.
“Lightening Your Footprint”
I would like to note for a moment the philosophy of “Lightening Your Footprint.” All individuals who explore the Community have both the opportunity and responsibility to determine how we impact the land for future generations. Every time we fail to take advantage of our opportunity and responsibility to treat the land as sacred, we negatively impact the natural environment and forever leave our mark, or “footprint.” When we leave an area cleaner than when we found it, and stay on the improved and unimproved dirt roads, we lighten our footprint and treat the land as it is meant to be kept, sacred.
Have fun, and above all, be safe in all your activities. Call the SRPD if you need any assistance. The rules and regulations established in the Verde/Salt River recreation area, as well as the entire range area of the Community, are established to increase our freedom and enjoyment.