Friends of the Desert #22

Friends of the Desert
E-News Issue #22
March 4, 2004
*A project of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection in Pima
County, Arizona*

Please visit our NEW AND IMPROVED website for more information:
http://www.sonorandesert.org.

If you know of anyone who would be interested in receiving this
newsletter, or if you would like to be removed from this list,
please reply to csdp@dakotacom.net.

IN THIS ISSUE: 
* Special Update on the May 18th Open Space Bond Election 
* Draft MSCP Released 
* The Ironwood Forest National Monument Update: La Osa Development 
* March 13th: Your Support for the SDCP and the Tumacacori Wilderness
is Crucial! 
* Can You Make An Extra Gift this Spring? 

* Special Update on the May 18th Open Space Bond Election
Pima County has scheduled a bond election for May 18, 2004,
including Question 1 that would provide over $170 million for open
space protection. This money will go to support the Sonoran Desert
Conservation Plan by permanently protecting some of the lands
identified as most important to the ecological health of our
community under this process=97like desert grasslands, old-growth
saguaro forests, mesquite bosques, creeks and streams and cottonwood-
willow groves. Question 1 will also provide money to protect other
lands that have other community values, to preserve our quality of
life in the midst of a population growth rate TWICE the national
average.

Question 1 is so important for the future of our community, and it
is crucial that voters know about this opportunity to protect what’s
best about it. The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection is
working with other community members as Friends of the Sonoran
Desert to promote Question 1. Please visit the Friends website at
OpenSpaceBond2004.org for more information on the bond, or to find
out how you can help.

REQUEST YOUR EARLY BALLOT NOW!
You can request your vote-by-mail ballot now, and can send in your
vote as early as April 15th for the May election. Call the Friends
of the Sonoran Desert office at (520) 321-1900 to get an application
for your vote-by-mail ballot. 

* Draft MSCP Released
As many of you know, in addition to being a plan for future growth
for our community, the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is being
developed by Pima County for the US Fish and Wildlife Service
(USFWS) because the county needs to address issues related to
endangered species.

The element of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan being developed
for the USFWS is called the Pima County Multi-Species Conservation
Plan, or PCMSCP. This plan is required to specify what species will
be targeted for conservation, and how the county intends to achieve
the conservation for those species.

A draft has recently been released by Pima County. Copies can be
requested through the County Administrator’s Office at 740-8162, or
can be viewed on-line at http://www.pima.gov/cmo/sdcp/reports.html. 

* The Ironwood Forest National Monument (IFNM) Update: La Osa
Development
A new and serious threat to the IFNM has arisen, this time in
neighboring Pinal County. A development of approximately 20,000
acres, "La Osa Ranch," has been proposed to the Board of
Supervisors. If approved, the full build-out of 150,000 residents
would make this development essentially the 8th largest City in
Arizona!
The proposed development is located within the floodplain of the
Santa Cruz River, immediately adjacent to a rich archaeological
district within the monument, and within a mile at the furthest from
the IFNM boundary to the south and west. Human impacts from a
development of this magnitude could have massive negative effects on
the natural and cultural resources that the Coalition and others are
working hard to protect. In addition to the future impacts from the
housing, commercial and resort development, the developer has been
actively destroying the desert resources in and around the monument
prior to obtaining local, state or federal permits. The damage
includes: 
* Releasing diseased goats into the area around Ragged Top and
Silverbell peaks, infecting many of the desert bighorn sheep. The
diseases have caused deaths to bighorn sheep in this last known herd
in the Tucson area, and so far no lambs have survived this season. 
* Archaeological artifacts, including human remains, have been
unearthed and damaged. 
* The mesquite bosques of the Santa Cruz River have been
cleared and construction has been done on the river at Sasco Road.
All of this has been done without permits. While we are pursuing
legal action where appropriate, the Pinal County elected and
appointed officials continue to support this project.
So far, we have successfully delayed this project at the Planning
and Zoning Commission level. A hearing, and most likely a vote, on
the project is currently scheduled for Thursday, March 18th at 9:00
a.m at the Pinal County Governmental Complex, Building F, in
Florence, AZ. The Board of Supervisors will most likely hear the
case within a few weeks of the Commission. PLEASE ATTEND THE
HEARING IF YOU CAN TO SHOW YOUR OPPOSITION. In particular, Pinal
County residents are sorely needed to weigh in.
For a thorough story on La Osa Ranch development, and the developer
proposing it, please read the news story–with photos–that appeared
in the Phoenix New Times Weekly, "Big Bad Developer George Johnson
is quickly becoming the most notorious developer in Arizona",
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/2004-01-
22/feature.html/1/index.html. 

* March 13th=97 Your Support for the SDCP and the Tumacacori
Wilderness is Crucial!
We need your help on Saturday, March 13th to speak up for the
Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan at the Arizona Game and Fish
Commission hearing in Tucson. Pima County will be testifying on the
SDCP, and the public will have the opportunity to speak after the
official presentation(s) are heard. In addition, representatives
for both Sky Island Alliance and Congressman Raul Grijalva will be
testifying on the conservation benefits of designating the
Tumacacori Highlands as wilderness, which the Coalition has endorsed
and is identified in the SDCP.

When: 9:00 am, March 13, 2004
Where: Best Western Inn Suites, 6201 N. Oracle Rd., Tucson.

We expect that the Commission will take action on these items.
Please attend the meeting to show your support and encourage the
Commission to take a position supporting the SDCP, and Congressman
Grijalva’s Tumacacori Highlands Wilderness proposal.

We anticipate a large turnout of anti-environmental forces to attend
in opposition to both of these important initiatives and it is
crucial that we get enough people in attendance to fill the hearing
room.

Please ask to speak!!! Your voice will go a long way in advocating
for these critical issues! 

* Can You Make An Extra Gift this Spring?
No matter how important, timely or vital the Coalition’s work, it
doesn’t happen without funding for staff, an office, computers and
projectors, newsletters, reports, brochures and other outreach
materials, and giving presentations. And there has never been a more
important time for the Coalition and the Sonoran Desert than the
next few months!

This is why we are asking you, the Coalition’s most committed
supporters, to again show your generosity and dedication by making
another tax-deductible gift. You can follow this link,
http://www.sonorandesert.org/contents/support.html, to go to the
website’s donation page, or you can send your donation directly to
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, 300 E University Blvd,
Suite 120, Tucson, Arizona 85705. Call us if you have any
questions. Thanks!

Until next time!

Susan Shobe
Assistant Director
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
300 E. University Blvd., #120
Tucson, AZ 85705
(520) 388-9925
Susan@sonorandesert.org
http://www.sonorandesert.org

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