Public will be able to watch Game and Fish Commission at the department‘s regional department offices

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February 4th, 2009

PHOENIX – Thanks to modern video conferencing techniques, those living in rural areas of Arizona will no longer have to travel long distances to participate in regularly scheduled Arizona Game and Fish Commission meetings.

Starting Feb. 6-7, the Game and Fish Department is initiating a pilot program to provide video feeds of the commission meetings to all of its regional offices (except Mesa), allowing it to reduce costs while increasing the opportunity for public involvement at the same time.

The regional offices are located in Tucson, Flagstaff, Kingman, Yuma and Pinetop. The Mesa Regional office will not be included, mostly because the conferencing system only allows six feeds at one time, but also because those living in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area can readily attend the meeting without having to travel extreme distances. For a list of office addresses, visit www.azgfd.gov/offices.

This pilot program will not only give constituents and news media from different parts of the state an opportunity to view the meetings via video-conference at the regional offices, but also to submit “blue slips” to present oral comment on the call for comment portions of the agenda, just as if they were attending the meeting in person.

The commission announced in December that it will hold its 2009 meetings at the Phoenix headquarters complex to reduce travel and other costs associated with holding such meetings in different regions of the state as it has in the past.

But the commission also wanted to keep constituents from various parts of the state engaged in the public meeting process.  “This pilot program is one way of doing that,” said Harry Seck, assistant director for special services. “Our constituents can save money by not having to travel long distances to participate in the process, and we can save much-needed revenues by not having to conduct meetings around the state.”

The department already has the technology and equipment on hand, so there are no additional fiscal outlays. It will require having personnel available to open up the regional offices for the Saturday portions of the meetings.

A test on the video system was conducted this week. “With these advanced technologies, there will likely be unanticipated technical issues to iron out, but it looks very promising so far,” Seck said.

However, he said, viewers at the regional offices may have a more limited view of the proceedings than they would in person. “We’ll work on those issues as they arise,” Seck said.

To view a copy of the agenda for this week, visit www.azgfd.gov/commission and click on the “commission agenda” link.

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