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Latest News in Black Canyon, AZ

I-17 reopens near Black Canyon City after downed power lines caused closure Thursday

BLACK CANYON CITY, Ariz. — Interstate 17 has been reopened at milepost 243, near Black Canyon City, after downed power lines caused an hours-long closure Thursday, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.Drivers were advised to find an alternate route or expect significant delays in the area.There is no word on how the lines got on the roadway.You can now watch 12News content anytime, anywhere thanks to the 12News+ app!The free 12News+ app from 12News lets users stream live events — inclu...

BLACK CANYON CITY, Ariz. — Interstate 17 has been reopened at milepost 243, near Black Canyon City, after downed power lines caused an hours-long closure Thursday, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Drivers were advised to find an alternate route or expect significant delays in the area.

There is no word on how the lines got on the roadway.

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The free 12News+ app from 12News lets users stream live events — including daily newscasts like "Today in AZ" and "12 News" and our daily lifestyle program, "Arizona Midday"—on Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

12News+ showcases live video throughout the day for breaking news, local news, weather and even an occasional moment of Zen showcasing breathtaking sights from across Arizona.

Not a jaguar, not a cougar, not a bobcat: Mystery cat prowling Phoenix Mountains Preserve

It's not a jaguar, mountain lion, bobcat or house cat, according to the Jim DeVos with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.PHOENIX — Something is prowling through the mountains of Phoenix, and the experts aren't sure what it is.But they are sure what it's not."I can tell you, from the suite of felids — of cats — in Arizona, it's nothing that I recognize as a native species to Arizona," said Jim DeVos, assistant director with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).Arizona...

It's not a jaguar, mountain lion, bobcat or house cat, according to the Jim DeVos with the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

PHOENIX — Something is prowling through the mountains of Phoenix, and the experts aren't sure what it is.

But they are sure what it's not.

"I can tell you, from the suite of felids — of cats — in Arizona, it's nothing that I recognize as a native species to Arizona," said Jim DeVos, assistant director with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD).

Arizona is no stranger to big cats. Mountain lions (also called cougars, pumas, and about 40 other names) live in most of the state's arid, rocky habitats and sometimes wander into nearby neighborhoods. Jaguars are occasionally spotted in southern Arizona and can range as far north as the Grand Canyon.

RELATED: 'I was blown away': Cougar caught on camera drinking out of Scottsdale pool

However, video of the cat, posted by YouTube user Jen Fields, shows something very different than the usual suspects.

"We have ocelots, which are spotted. Jaguars, spotted. Mountain lions that are one color," DeVos explained. "It's not a bobcat, for sure. So it's not a native species. Where it came from would be anybody's guess."

The video shows that the animal has dark black fur that stands out from the rocks around it: a distinct contrast to the typical pelts of native cats.

Social media users suggested that it may be a mountain lion or jaguar with melanism: a genetic trait that makes an animal's fur appear much darker than the usual colors. However, to date there has never been a confirmed case of a black mountain lion, according to the Mountain Lion Foundation.

DeVos has a different idea. He thinks it's an exotic animal that escaped captivity.

"My guess is that it's probably something that was bought at a wildlife auction. Could be from Africa or South America. It's nothing I'm familiar with, but it's not a house cat."

Exotic and invasive though it may be, DeVos doesn't think the department will go after it unless it starts causing problems for people.

"Until we see some type of unacceptable behavior [...] a close encounter with a human, an aggressive encounter with a human, then it's out there and the chances of us being able to go out and find that particular animal again — unless it's constantly getting into trouble — is very, very slim."

So for now, the mystery cat is here to say. AZGFD will be looking for more reports of sightings and encounters. All big cat encounters, attacks, or sightings in urban areas should be reported to AZGFD dispatch at 623-236-7201.

>> Download the 12News app for the latest local breaking news straight to your phone.

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Explore amAZing people, places and things across our state on our 12News YouTube playlist here.

Birds and big mountain views are just two reasons to try this Arizona hike

Ubiquitous yet largely invisible to the casual hiker, barn swallows play an interesting game of hide-and-seek with those who wander through their habitats.The migratory species feeds in midair, capturing insects (they love flies, which explains their name) in acrobatic swoops over open terrain, rangeland and farms.Also known as cliff swallows, the tiny birds build their nests in rock crevasses, caves and crags, but have discovered that human-made structures like highway tunnels, bridges, culverts and abandoned buildings are als...

Ubiquitous yet largely invisible to the casual hiker, barn swallows play an interesting game of hide-and-seek with those who wander through their habitats.

The migratory species feeds in midair, capturing insects (they love flies, which explains their name) in acrobatic swoops over open terrain, rangeland and farms.

Also known as cliff swallows, the tiny birds build their nests in rock crevasses, caves and crags, but have discovered that human-made structures like highway tunnels, bridges, culverts and abandoned buildings are also suitable locations for their distinctive nests.

Travel:You can be one of the first to hike this history-filled trail in Arizona. Here's how

Plastered to ceilings and walls, the cup-shaped nests are made of dry bits of local grasses molded with mud and lined with feathers. For observant hikers, the earth-toned cups — which mostly look like wads of mud flung onto ceilings — can be spotted in overhead shadows in the concrete tunnels that usher trails under busy roads and freeways.

The tunnel under State Route 69 in the Yavapai County town of Mayer outside of Prescott is rife with nests as the surrounding landscape is dotted with farms, washes and open range where the swallows never hunger for a meal of insects.

That tunnel ferries trail users between the Big Bug and Copper Mountain segments of the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail, a 100-mile historic route that runs between Phoenix and the Verde Valley. While a walk through the tunnel is — at least for nature nerds — an interesting passage, there’s much more to love about the Copper Mountain segment.

More:Black Canyon Trail hike reveals Arizona's ragged interior

The trip begins at the Big Bug trailhead about an hour's drive north of Phoenix. Take the left fork a few yards south of the restroom, passing through the tunnel and heading into wide open pastureland. Save for a few lonesome junipers, the scrubby, windswept terrain has little shade and even less to disrupt big mountain vistas including glimpses of the long mesas of the Pine Mountain Wilderness and the pine-covered Bradshaw Mountains.

After passing a couple of ranch sites, the trail dives into an unrelenting series of ups and downs. At the 1.6-mile point, the trail meets the Copper Mountain Loop junction.

The 8.7-mile add-on loop heads left for a twisting trip through the foothills below 5,026-foot Copper Mountain.

The loop reconnects with the Copper Mountain segment at the Russian Well Segment 3 miles north of the south junction.

To stay on the main trail, head right and follow the route northward through drainages, gullies and grasslands where grazing cattle are nearly as pervasive as the swallows that dart among the cows and cactus diving for their dinners.

More:Best bird-watching hikes in Arizona: Where to look for trogons, owls, tanagers and more

Black Canyon Trail: Copper Mountain segment

Length: Copper Mountain segment: 4.6 miles one way (9.2 miles out and back). Copper Mountain segment with loop: 15.1 miles for the entire loop plus access from trailhead.

Rating: Moderate.

Elevation: 4,020-4,414 (1,265 feet of accumulated elevation change).

Getting there: Use the Big Bug trailhead. From Interstate 17 in Cordes Junction take Exit 262 for State Route 69 heading north toward Prescott. Continue 4.2 miles to the signed turnoff for the Black Canyon Trail on the left.

Facilities: Vault toilet.

Details: Black Canyon Trail Coalition, https://bctaz.org. Prescott Hiking Club, https://www.prescotthiking.com. Information about cliff and barn swallows, https://azdot.gov/adot-blog.

Widening Interstate 17 could spell trouble for Black Canyon City's water supply

Opinion: ADOT plans to use nearby groundwater to widen Interstate 17 near Black Canyon City. It's a worthy project, but one that could have catastrophic consequences for residents.A compelling case study of conflicting water interests is unfolding in Black Canyon City, where the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is preparing much needed ...

Opinion: ADOT plans to use nearby groundwater to widen Interstate 17 near Black Canyon City. It's a worthy project, but one that could have catastrophic consequences for residents.

A compelling case study of conflicting water interests is unfolding in Black Canyon City, where the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is preparing much needed improvements to 22 miles of Interstate 17.

It poses serious implications for Arizona’s efforts to better manage its ever-dwindling groundwater.

In an area that’s outside of a regulated Active Management Area and dependent on a shallow aquifer, the two main water providers – Black Canyon City Water Improvement District and Cold Water Canyon Water Company – have determined they cannot risk their water supply by providing construction water to ADOT.

Private well owners are free to sell their water and several have contracted with Kiewitt-Fann Joint Ventures, ADOT’s contractor, to do just that. But well levels have already dropped 2 feet this summer. The monsoon has not helped the Agua Fria, a major source of groundwater recharge, to flow consistently, and users are facing a serious Stage 3 set of water restrictions.

Construction has yet to start.

Previous road construction dried up a spring

When ADOT reconfigured the Cordes Junction Traffic Interchange from 2010 to 2013, water usage caused a nearby spring to dry up. The contractor was free to obtain water from a local water company that was free to provide it. But Big Bug Spring on the Miramonte Ranch in Spring Valley dried up for five years, impacting both livestock and wildlife.

As a result, the Upper Agua Fria Watershed Partnership met several times with ADOT arguing that only sustainable water resources should be used for ADOT construction. That is, no existing user or the environment should be adversely impacted. In fact, we asked that ADOT mandate that any future contractor use only sustainable sources.

No solution:Lawmakers have done little to address rural groundwater problems

Kiewitt-Fann Joint Ventures is planning to use 65 to 114 million gallons of water, some reclaimed from Anthem, some from their wells at Table Mesa Road. But it also is lining up Black Canyon City water from private wells.

The residential concern is that as groundwater is withdrawn for the project, if the aquifer is affected and water levels drop, there is no commitment from ADOT to monitor or to stop the local water overdraft.

The Upper Agua Fria Watershed Partnership covers 1,200 square miles from Dewey Humboldt to Lake Pleasant and Crown King to Pine Mountain. It consists of federal, state, county and local agencies, private property holders and the general public with a focus on water quantity and quality as well as watershed health.

The group has been considering this issue for the past year at its monthly meetings urging ADOT to source water responsibly.

How ADOT could minimize impacts to wells

Should 2,500 people suffer for a worthy project?

ADOT gets credit for transparency regarding the Anthem to Sunset Point Improvement Project. The thorough public meeting in Black Canyon City in May answered many questions except those regarding source water for construction. ImprovingI17.com is packed with information and welcomes questions.

What could ADOT do to assure a sustainable sourcing of construction water necessary for dust control, soil compaction, gravel washing and concrete production?

Yavapai County Supervisor James Gregory asked a representative from the Arizona Department of Water Resources if the department could or would intervene in the event of a Black Canyon City water crises triggered by ADOT construction. The answer was no, ADWR has no authority in areas not designated as Active Management Area.

We need more tools to manage rural groundwater

The Black Canyon City project highlights the need for a statute to better manage groundwater in rural (non-AMA) areas.

The state House and Senate natural resource committees have stymied all attempts for decades to address the problem. The committee chairs don’t even hold hearings to discuss the issues.

State Rep. Regina Cobb of Kingman promoted the concept of RMAs – Rural Management Areas – to allow for rural water management in areas determined by the county, to no successful conclusion.

Increasing aridification, more demands on our shrinking water resource, private wells and public springs drying up with no remedy all require creative, cooperative, future-considerate solutions.

It is time for the Legislature to act.

Mary Hoadley is chair of the Upper Agua Fria Watershed Partnership. Tim Flood is the water team lead for Friends of the Agua Fria Monument. Reach them at maryhoadley@icloud.com and tjflood@att.net.

Parts of Camp Verde remain evacuated while some in Yavapai County can return home

RIMROCK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Wet weather has caused flooding and dangerous conditions across much of the state, and, as a result, multiple highways are closed, and some cities were ordered to evacuate in northern Arizona. But as the rain has stopped, some evacuations have been lifted. Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said evacuees from Rimrock, Black Canyon City, Mayer and Prescott in the area of Granite Dells could go back home. People who live in the Armetta area of Camp Verde still can’...

RIMROCK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Wet weather has caused flooding and dangerous conditions across much of the state, and, as a result, multiple highways are closed, and some cities were ordered to evacuate in northern Arizona. But as the rain has stopped, some evacuations have been lifted. Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said evacuees from Rimrock, Black Canyon City, Mayer and Prescott in the area of Granite Dells could go back home. People who live in the Armetta area of Camp Verde still can’t go home yet. The neighborhood is near the Verde River, which has flooded in certain parts.

Residents Rimrock and Lake Montezuma along Beaver Creek were told to leave Tuesday due to rain causing major flooding issues. The American Red Cross has set up a shelter at 395 S Main St. at the Camp Verde gym.

Around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, YCSO said Cornville residents living along Oak Creek, including Lo Lo Mai, Sunrise RV Resort and low-lying houses in other low Oak Creek estates, should consider evacuating to higher ground. Cornville Road will be closed at Windmill Park due to flooding. The sheriff’s office warns not to cross flooded areas.

Heavy rain and floods continue to hit the state, also causing dangerous road conditions for the high country. The Arizona Department of Transportation says the following highways are closed due to weather and crashes.

Last Updated: 9:27 p.m. Wednesday

ADOT recommends postponing non-essential travel as today’s weather is also causing rocks and debris to fall onto highways. If travel is necessary, ADOT advises drivers to pack an emergency kit and be prepared to spend an extended amount of time in winter conditions.

The following areas in the Coconino National Forest are currently closed due to flooding:

The Coconino National Forest is continuing to monitor other sites and advises people to use caution, stay home, and avoid roadways in an impacted area.

In Maricopa County, flooding has resulted in the following closures:

Officials are urging people not to drive across flooded roads or crossings. For questions regarding flooding or evacuations, call (928) 442-5103.

Visit Arizona’s Family’s First Alert Weather page to stay up-to-date on the latest forecast.

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