Friends of the Desert #26

Friends of the Desert
January 2005, Issue #26

A project of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection in Pima County, Arizona
300 E. University Blvd., #120, Tucson, AZ, 85705, (520) 388-9925

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

In This Issue:

· Greetings for the New Year
· Expanding the Coalition’s Outreach Program
· Jason Reinert’s Arizona Trail Adventure for the Coalition
· Challenge Grant Update-We’re Almost There! Help Us Reach It!

Greetings for the New Year

The Coalition board and staff wishes all of you a happy New Year, and sends it’s heartfelt thanks for your ongoing support of our efforts to protect the Sonoran Desert. This year looks to be the most exciting yet, as Pima County anticipates the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan to be approved in September. With this momentous close to a nearly 8-year planning process, we will need your help more than ever during these final opportunities for public comment to, yet again, remind the Board of Supervisors of our community’s pride and concern for our Sonoran Desert home. We have much to do to ensure that the final SDCP adequately protects our native wildlife and natural resources into the future, and we have some new and expanded projects planned toward this goal. We are excited at the possibility that this year holds for the plan and, ultimately, the future of our community. We hope that you’ll join with us in working to make the SDCP something we can be proud of-a legacy that protects what’s best about Pima County for ourselves and future generations.

Expanding the Coalition’s Outreach Program

One of the Coalition’s major projects for this year will be to expand our current Outreach Program. The success of the May 2004 Open Space Bond proved that the community at large – regardless of age, ethnicity, or income – agrees with us about the importance of protecting our Sonoran Desert. But, unfortunately, many still are largely unfamiliar with the SDCP, and its significance to our future.

The goal of the SDCP is to allow our community to grow without destroying the things that make Pima County special – the mountain ranges, riparian areas, habitat that supports abundant wildlife, and places where we can leave the city behind and enjoy the solitude of nature. We need your help in spreading the word about the SDCP and the Coalition’s work to others in the community, so that we are all ready to again show our support for conservation during the public comment opportunities that will occur as the plan is completed this year.

Coalition staff, board, and key volunteers are now engaged in the initial planning for this expanded Outreach Program. We are busy identifying partners and groups for presentations and meetings, preparing materials in both Spanish and English.

Once prepared, we’ll begin introducing the Coalition’s work and vision for a sustainable Sonoran Desert to communities and groups who aren’t currently involved in the SDCP. We need to build on the pride and ethic of concern for our native ecosystem that currently exists, and mobilize these new allies to join with others who share their feelings of community responsibility toward our Sonoran Desert home. Our work is anticipated to include presentations to neighborhood groups, tabling at community events, hosting public forums, door-to-door canvassing, and publicity in newsletters and newspapers and airtime on TV and radio.

In order to pass a conservation-minded SDCP, we will need to show as much public support as possible for that vision of the plan as the September 2005 deadline approaches. Through our expanded Outreach Program, by late summer we hope to add 2,000 community activists to our existing 1,000 supporters. We’ll be asking supporters to write letters to the editor in response to newspaper articles, sign and/or gather petition signatures, contact County Supervisors, attend public hearings, and host house parties. Only with a groundswell of community support will the SDCP become the great plan we’ve worked toward and adequately protect our native ecosystem in the face of the second-highest growth rate in the U.S.

Volunteers will be needed to help with all of these tasks. Whatever assistance you can give will be greatly appreciated. If you or anyone you know can help, please email Sean@sonorandesert.org or call the office at (520) 388-9925.

Jason Reinert’s Arizona Trail Adventure

This fall, Jason Reinert set out to hike the entire 790-mile Arizona Trail, from Utah to Mexico, traversing open meadows, narrow canyons, golden aspens, and the Grand Canyon to raise both awareness and money for the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and current efforts to complete construction of unfinished sections of the Arizona Trail. Jason made it 39 days and 380 miles down the trail, well into the rugged Mazatzal Mountains, before he was forced to end his hike because of bad weather and health problems that ensued as a result – but don’t worry, they were temporary and he and his dog, Roanoke, are fine now. We are very proud of Jason’s accomplishments, and are so thankful for his efforts to raise both money and awareness for the Coalition and the need to protect the Sonoran Desert and Arizona’s many other beautiful and threatened places. In all, Jason helped to raise nearly $1,000.00 in pledges and donations for the Coalition.

You will find more details of his amazing adventure and his ultimate decision to leave the trail on our website, http://www.sonorandesert.org, in a letter from Jason to all those who followed and supported his effort and the last of his trail journals. He hopes to continue where he left off in either the spring or fall of 2005, and the Coalition will be there to support and celebrate with him when he does. Again, thank you, Jason, for all your efforts-and thanks to those of you who supported him!

The Arizona Trail Association (ATA) is continually "Working to build, maintain and promote the Arizona Trail", and are always looking for volunteers to help with the trail. More information on the AZ Trail, the ATA, and volunteer events can found at www.aztrail.org.

Challenge Grant Update

Just before the end of 2004 a local, anonymous donor awarded the Coalition with a $15,000 challenge grant to fund our expanded Outreach Program-meaning that the donor will match dollar-for-dollar every donation up to $15,000. We are happy to report that we have received over $10,000.00 toward the $15,000 challenge! The response has been wonderful, and we are so grateful to those of you responded so generously this season. To those that haven’t yet given, please help us reach the $15,000 goal. We’re almost there, but we need your help to make it! Visit our website at http://www.sonorandesert.org to donate, or send your check to Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, 300 E. University Blvd., #120, Tucson, AZ, 85705. Thank you!

Looking Good and Protecting the Sonoran Desert

The Coalition’s new long-sleeved, organic cotton T-shirts are going fast! They are a warm sage color with our logo on the front and a beautiful picture of a cougar and words of wisdom from Thomas E. Lovejoy on the back: "The choice is not between wild places or people. Rather, it is between a rich or an impoverished existence for Man."

They are a comfortable and eye-catchin’ way to show that you care about our Sonoran Desert home and support the Coalition’s efforts to protect it. Order yours now before they are gone!

Only $15.00, available in sizes M-XL; and we still have our natural short-sleeved T’s (same graphics, with a quote from Tucson’s own Chuck Bowden) for only $12.00.

Download our online order form at http://www.sonorandesert.org, or call the Coalition office at (520) 388-9925 to order yours today!

Thanks for your generous support. If you can make an extra donation it would greatly help our upcoming work. Please visit http://www.sonorandesert.org/content/csdp_support-001.html to donate.

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