300 E. University Blvd., #120, Tucson, AZ, 85705, (520) 388-9925, http://www.sonorandesert.org
In This Issue:
" Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan Update
" "A Friend of the Desert Is a Friend of Mine" Slogan
" May 14th Celebration Update
" Expanded Outreach Activities-Help Use Spread the Word About the SDCP
" New Coalition Hats Available Soon!
" Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP) Update
Pima County is steadily closing in on the finalization of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP). The SDCP is a nationally-recognized effort to plan for future growth throughout the region in a way that protects our natural environment and quality of life and meets the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act. We expect the final draft to be released this September or October, followed by a public comment period before the County sends the final plan to the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for approval. Although the FWS will have also have a public comment period, as required by law, our best chance to influence the final draft will be on a local level, with the Board of Supervisors, and, as we’ve mentioned previously, we’ve expanded our public outreach efforts in preparation for this important opportunity.
The Coalition has made significant headway in making the community’s vision for the SDCP of protecting our Sonoran Desert home into the future a reality, but some of the most important work is still ahead of us in this final phase-including help from you. Like the Open Space Bond last year, your participation will be crucial in reminding the County of the community support for conserving our desert environment. We will be sure to send out information on when and how to make your voice heard to the Board of Supervisors when we know more. Your phone call or letter may make the difference in establishing a plan that actually protects the fragile ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert. Please stay tuned for a call to action, and read more below about other ways you can support the Coalition’s efforts to establish a strong SDCP.
In the meantime, we will continue to work diligently with County staff and Supervisors as they permit ongoing development, review and update ordinances to be consistent with the plan, and develop management and monitoring plans for conserved lands. Previous and current drafts of the SDCP state that the County’s natural resources will be protected. However, without ordinances ensuring that future development is consistent with the plan and without adequate funding and proper plans for management and monitoring of conserved lands, there is no guarantee that this protection will occur. We have seen other plans like the SDCP fall short because of the lack of on-the-ground measures that provide real conservation, and we are working hard to make sure that the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan lives up to the County’s overarching purpose of the plan to "ensure the long-term survival of the full spectrum of plants and animals that are indigenous to Pima County through maintaining or improving the habitat conditions and ecosystem functions necessary for their survival."
As we mentioned above, the work we’ll do from now until the SDCP is finalized will be some of our most important, and we need all of our Friends of the Desert to help.
Between June 1 and August 31 the Coalition hopes to raise at least $50,000 from our top individual supporters and $50,000 from our foundation friends. This campaign will not only help fund existing staff’s efforts to educate public officials and remain engaged in the final battles over the SDCP, but will also fund a variety of vital new Coalition resources and tools, including our new bi-lingual video and new outreach materials, an expanded office for meetings and volunteer work, expanded hours for existing staff, hiring a new outreach coordinator and kicking off new business, community outreach and landscape connections campaigns.
In pledges and gifts received we have already raised over $56,000 towards this combined $100,000 goal.
If you have already given a gift we thank you!
If you haven’t, we again invite you to support this campaign to help us finish the job of protecting our desert home. Please give online through our website http://www.sonorandesert.org, call the office, or return the gift card we send you in the mail last month. The Coalition knows what it takes to finish the job – but we need your help.
It’s time to end the blading of valuable wild desert lands.
It’s time to preserve the wild places we enjoy with family and friends.
It’s time to put in place a plan that protects the Sonoran Desert we call home.
" "A Friend of the Desert Is a Friend of Mine" Slogan
In the last newsletter edition, we asked supporters to help the Coalition develop a new slogan for our community outreach efforts. We were pleased to have received a number of great entries, and it was a difficult choice -thanks to those of you who contributed!
At our May 14th Celebration Event (see more below), we announced the winner of the contest, Richard Calabro of Green Valley, and his slogan "A Friend of the Desert is a Friend of Mine." Thank you, Richard, for submitting and allowing us to use your slogan, and for your sincere love of our desert home.
At the event, we also unveiled our new bumper stickers and magnets, with the new slogan in both English and Spanish. We will eventually have them available on our website, but until then, stop by the office or give us a call to get one (a small donation is always appreciated.)
" May 14th Celebration Update
In May, the Coalition held a celebration in honor of all of our great supporters. It was a great success, and a lot of fun, too! Over 80 people attended and got to know Coalition staff, member organization representatives, and each other as we announced our slogan winner and unveiled our new bumper stickers, magnets, and bi-lingual outreach video. Pima County Supervisors and staff members were on hand to show support for the Coalition and adopting a strong SDCP. The staff and volunteers at the Tucson Audubon Mason Center were great hosts and it was a pleasure to hold the celebration in the beautiful ironwood tree preserve. Thank you to everyone who came and helped to make the event so enjoyable!
" Expanded Outreach Activities-Help Us Spread the Word!
When the public comment period for the SDCP begins later this year, we will be asking all of the Friends of the Desert to voice support for the key elements that must be included in the SDCP in order to protect our Sonoran Desert home into the future (see the Community Vision our website at http://www.sonorandesert.org for details). We need as many people as possible to show the Pima County Board of Supervisors that there is strong support behind implementing a Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan that truly protects our native desert resources, and have set a goal of reaching 10,000 new people by September of this year.
We are well on our way, but really need your help! Below is a list of some simple tools you can use to help us reach others who care about our desert home but still don’t know about the plan. Together we can ensure that this plan will be the best in the nation and will be used as a model for other communities who want to establish their own conservation plans.
o Host a House Party!
A great and fun way to help is by hosting a house party. Help spread the word of the Coalition’s work to your friends, neighbors and co-workers, and help us raise the necessary funds to continue our work. Coalition staff will work with you to make the party a success.
House parties usually last about 2 hours, with enough time for a meet and greet, a short presentation by staff or a Coalition representative, and an opportunity for general discussion. This intimate setting is great for engaging others in the community to support the Coalition. If you are interested, please contact Kevin Gaither-Banchoff at 869-4673 or 388-9925 and he will fill you in on all of the details.
o Coalition Video
The Coalition has produced a short film (~7 min.) in both English and Spanish to help educate the public about the SDCP and the Coalition’s work. This film, developed with the help of a local film maker, lays out the importance of protecting our desert and the dangers of not acting. With beautiful scenery and interviews with local residents, it is an easy and interesting way to introduce the topic to family, friends, or larger groups who may not be familiar with the Coalition and the SDCP. We will also have a downloadable version on our website in the near future. Available on DVD & VHS. Call the office to get yours (520) 388-9925. We would greatly appreciate a small donation for each video.
o New Website
We are currently working on a new and improved website. Our hopes are that the new format will be more user-friendly and will provide tools that will allow people who are just learning about desert conservation efforts to better understand the SDCP and the Coalition’s work. The new home page will be updated on a regular basis and will provide information on action alerts, media coverage, a listing of public meetings, and more. We will also be setting up a system where Coalition merchandise can be purchased online. We are planning to have the new site up and running by August 1st, so check it out and stay up to date: http://www.sonorandesert.org.
o National Media Coverage
The work that is being accomplished here in Pima County is receiving attention around the U.S. We hope that this national coverage will bring new supporters to the Coalition and encourage other communities throughout the country to follow the model of science-based conservation planning. As you will see in the articles below, many other conservation plans have fallen significantly short in actual conservation; in contrast, the SDCP is being touted as the best conservation plan to date. But we know that simply being better than other inadequate plans that have been put into place is not enough. We want to set the highest standard possible and help provide others with the resources that the Coalition has found most critical during the planning process of the SDCP in ensuring that conservation goals are met.
These articles and others will soon be accessible through our website:
Seattle Post Intelligencer. Thursday, May, 5 2005. "Plan Designed to Preserve an Ecosystem"
Audubon Magazine. May-June 2005. "Score One for the Desert"
Time Magazine. April 4, 2005. "Living with the Desert"
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