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Archive for the ‘Action Alerts’ Category

Take action: Comment today in opposition to any freeway in Avra Valley!

Posted on: 13 Comments

Do you think we should construct a new interstate in between our treasured Saguaro National Park and Ironwood Forest National Monument? 

The Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration are currently accepting public comments (deadline is this Friday, June 2!) on proposed corridor alternatives for a new interstate between Nogales and Wickenburg. [Want to read the Coalition’s comment letter? Head here.] We are opposed to Corridor Alternatives C & D which go right through Avra Valley…and right next to Saguaro National Park and Ironwood Forest National Monument.

It is well-established that new interstates bring with them new development, new roads, and more traffic. They are not stand-alone pieces of infrastructure. They come with exits, gas stations, frontage roads, and all kinds of new development. They also have negative impacts on viewsheds, natural quiet, dark skies, and other wilderness values. 

Avra Valley is a biologically-rich part of our region with significant protected open space, wildlife linkages, and mitigation lands.  Avra Valley is located right in between Pima County-owned Tucson Mountain Park and national treasure Saguaro National Park to the east and Ironwood Forest National Monument and the Tohono O’odham Nation to the west. It also contains mitigation lands managed by the Bureau of Reclamation for impacts from the Central Arizona Project canal, open space lands owned by Pima County and the Regional Flood Control District, and the Santa Cruz River. A new interstate through all of these protected lands would be devastating and irreversible. 

Will you please submit an official public comment today opposing Corridor Alternatives C & D through Avra Valley?

The public comment period ends this Friday, June 2, 2017.

 

Comments can be submitted by email to: I-11ADOTStudy@hdrinc.com or at a new dedicated comment website: www.i11comment.com

Verbal comments can be left at this phone number: (844) 544-8049

Comments can also be mailed to: 

Interstate 11 Tier 1 EIS Study Team

c/o ADOT Communications

1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Need some talking points to get your started on your comments? Feel free to use these and make them your own:

  • New interstates bring with them new development, new roads, and more traffic. They are not stand-alone pieces of infrastructure. They come with exits, gas stations, frontage roads, and all kinds of new development. They also have negative impacts on viewsheds, natural quiet, dark skies, and other wilderness values. It is unacceptable to locate a new interstate with this many impacts next to a national park and a national monument. 
  • Avra Valley is home to a rich mosaic of biologically-important lands, including a national park and a national monument on either side. The proposed Interstate 11 in southern Arizona should use the existing Interstate 10 corridor.
  • We need to keep our public lands and wildlife linkages intact. Saguaro National Park is a national treasure that is already becoming increasingly isolated due to development pressure from Tucson and Marana to the east. Constructing a new interstate west of this national park would doom wildlife there forever.
  • Should there be a proven need for expanded capacity, making improvements to the existing Interstate 10 corridor is the best alternative to manage increased traffic volumes in southern Arizona. All transportation options also need to be investigated, including an expanded rail corridor between Tucson and Phoenix and multi-modal transportation solutions generally. 

Want to read the Coalition’s comment letter? Check it out here and feel free to quote us or use any of the language in our letter to help you with yours!

 

Thank you for speaking out and using your voice to make a difference! 

 

Questions? Please give us a call at (520) 388-9925 or send us an email at admin@sonorandesert.org. 

Take Action: Submit your comments today in support of our national monuments!

Posted on: 2 Comments

May 16, 2017

On April 25, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that ordered the Interior Department to conduct a review of national monuments designated since 1996. According to a press release issued by the National Parks Conservation Association:

This executive order targets the Antiquities Act of 1906, which permits presidents to declare federal lands, already owned by all Americans, as monuments in order to protect their historical, cultural or scientific value and overall national significance. The review specifically calls for Interior to review sites that are more than 100,000 acres, or where Interior Secretary Zinke determines the designation or expansion was made without “adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.”

Our national parks and monuments are economic generators. America’s national parks welcomed a record-setting 331 million visitors last year, that contributed nearly $35 billion to the U.S. economy. Today, the Outside Industry Association released their annual economic report that shows that the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually and sustains 7.6 million American jobs. Altering monument designations would negatively impact what is proven to be good for local businesses and communities across the country.

Nearly every president since 1906 (eight republicans and eight democrats) has used the Antiquities Act as a bipartisan conservation tool to protect our nation’s history and culture. The law was passed by a Republican-led Congress and signed by President Theodore Roosevelt. There are more than 150 monuments that protect America’s cultural, historical, and natural heritage for future generations. Notably, no president has attempted to revoke a predecessor’s monument designation.

In Arizona, the review covers four national monuments: Ironwood Forest, Sonoran Desert, Grand Canyon-Parashant, and Vermilion Cliffs. All four of these national monuments protect stunning landscapes that are home to hundreds of wildlife species and important cultural sites. They also provide quiet open spaces where American citizens can find solace, view wildlife, and connect with the natural world. 

Please submit your comment today that expresses support for all our national monuments and urges Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to not make any changes to our currently designated national monuments. 

Our national monuments belong to all Americans. They are part of the legacy we are leaving for future generations. We need to fight for them today. 

How do you submit comments?

Comments can be submitted directly to the Interior Department here:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/11/2017-09490/review-of-certain-national-monuments-established-since-1996-notice-of-opportunity-for-public-comment#

There is also information at the site above on how to submit comments by mail.

What is the comment deadline?

There are two comment deadlines. Comments on Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted by May 26, 2017. Comments related to all other national monuments under review must be submitted by July 10, 2017. 

For a thought-provoking Guest Editorial about why President Trump should visit Arizona’s national monuments by Sierra Club-Grand Canyon Chapter Director Sandy Bahr, published in the AZ Daily Star on May 23, 2017, head here

Thank you for supporting our national monuments, and especially Ironwood Forest National Monument in southern Arizona.

Did you know that the Coalition led the effort, with our community partners, to have Ironwood Forest National Monument (IFNM) designated in 2000? IFNM is 129,000 acres of rugged Sonoran Desert habitat that contains an incredible diversity of wildlife species. Our member group, Friends of Ironwood Forest, has more information about IFNM at their website. You can also check out a recent news story about IFNM, including an interview with Friends of Ironwood Forest Board President Tom Hannagan, here

 

Lazy K Bar Ranch proposal is back on the table

Posted on:

April 27, 2017

The Lazy K Bar Ranch development proposal is back on the table. On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, the Town of Marana Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of a new development proposal for the Lazy K Bar Ranch property, with Commissioner Marcia Jakab dissenting. The Marana Town Council rejected a similar proposal two years ago. 

In 2014, the owners of the Lazy K Bar property submitted a development proposal to Marana to construct 178 homes on the historic site and the Town Council rejected the proposal twice, both in late 2014 and early 2015. Councilmembers who voted “nay” cited concerns about the historic nature of the property and the density of the homes. There was also a large opposition from neighbors, Saguaro National Park (which lies only a 1/2-mile away from the property), and local conservation groups. The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection ended up supporting the project at the last minute after receiving concessions from the property owner in regards to a larger buffer around the property, assurances that no riparian habitat would be impacted, and details about native plant protection. Our main priority was protecting a significant wildlife corridor on the property that is part of the larger threatened wildlife linkage between the Tucson Mountains and the Tortolita Mountains. 

This time around, the development proposal still involves the construction of 178 homes. Unfortunately, new elements of the project will infringe more on natural washes. We are in opposition to the proposal as it stands now. As Coalition Director Carolyn Campbell stated in a recent AZ Daily Star article, “We’ve been clear about what the wildlife needs. If they can provide that, we’re OK, but so far we haven’t seen it.” 

Now that the Marana Planning and Zoning Commission has made a positive recommendation about the proposal, the Marana Town Council will make a final decision about the proposal on May 16, 2017. 

To learn more, check out the official Marana staff report about the project, which includes the full development proposal, here

For an AZ Daily Star article from April 23, 2017, head here.

For an AZ Daily Star article published after the April 26 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, head here

For an AZ Daily Star article published on April 28 announcing the May 16, 2017 Mayor & Council meeting when a final decision will be made, head here

For a KVOA news story that aired before the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting that has some beautiful footage of the Lazy K Bar property, head here

And for some history on the failed proposal from 2014-2015, check out this AZ Daily Star article

If you want to express your opinion about this development proposal, send an email to the Town of Marana Town Clerk at clerk@maranaaz.gov

Thank you for supporting responsible development and the protection of open spaces and our critical wildlife linkages! 

Take Action: Attend public meetings about proposed Interstate 11!

Posted on: 4 Comments

April 13, 2017

UPDATE: The Coalition submitted an official comment letter on the I-11 Corridor Alternatives on May 31. Check it out here and feel free to quote our letter or use any of our language to help with your comments. 

Mark your calendar! Save the date! And get ready to voice your opposition to any proposed interstate that goes through Avra Valley!

The Arizona Department of Transportation and the Federal Highways Administration are holding a series of public meetings in May to discuss their corridor alternatives for a new interstate between Nogales and Wickenburg. We are opposed to Corridor Alternatives C & D which go right through Avra Valley…and right next to Saguaro National Park and Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Do you think we should construct a new interstate in between our treasured Saguaro National Park and Ironwood Forest National Monument? 

It is well-established that new interstates bring with them new development, new roads, and more traffic. They are not stand-alone pieces of infrastructure. They come with exits, gas stations, frontage roads, and all kinds of new development. They also have negative impacts on viewsheds, natural quiet, dark skies, and other wilderness values. 

Avra Valley is a biologically-rich part of our region with significant protected open space, wildlife linkages, and mitigation lands.  Avra Valley is located right in between Pima County-owned Tucson Mountain Park and national treasure Saguaro National Park to the east and Ironwood Forest National Monument and the Tohono O’odham Nation to the west. It also contains mitigation lands managed by the Bureau of Reclamation for impacts from the Central Arizona Project canal, open space lands owned by Pima County and the Regional Flood Control District, and the Santa Cruz River. A new interstate through all of these protected lands would be devastating and irreversible. 

First, can we count on you to attend one of these public meetings and voice your opposition to Corridor Alternatives C & D through Avra Valley? 

 

There are two meetings in the Pima County area, and four more in other parts of southern Arizona. 

Tuesday, May 2, 5-7pm

Arizona Riverpark Inn, 777 W. Cushing St., Tucson

Wednesday, May 3, 5-7pm

Marana Middle School – Cafeteria, 11285 W. Grier Road, Marana

For a full list of all the public meetings and more information, head to the project website at http://i11study.com/Arizona/Meetings.asp

For a map of the corridor alternatives being presented at these public meetings, click here

Second, will you please submit an official public comment opposing Corridor Alternatives C & D through Avra Valley? The public comment period is April 28-June 2, 2017.

 

Comments can be submitted by email to: I-11ADOTStudy@hdrinc.com or at a new dedicated comment website: www.i11comment.com

Verbal comments can be left at this phone number: (844) 544-8049

Comments can also be mailed to: 

Interstate 11 Tier 1 EIS Study Team

c/o ADOT Communications

1655 W. Jackson St., Mail Drop 126F

Phoenix, AZ 85007

 

Need some talking points to get your started on your comments? Feel free to use these and make them your own:

  • New interstates bring with them new development, new roads, and more traffic. They are not stand-alone pieces of infrastructure. They come with exits, gas stations, frontage roads, and all kinds of new development. They also have negative impacts on viewsheds, natural quiet, dark skies, and other wilderness values. It is unacceptable to locate a new interstate with this many impacts next to a national park and a national monument. 
  • Avra Valley is home to a rich mosaic of biologically-important lands, including a national park and a national monument on either side. The proposed Interstate 11 in southern Arizona should use the existing Interstate 10 corridor.
  • We need to keep our public lands and wildlife linkages intact. Saguaro National Park is a national treasure that is already becoming increasingly isolated due to development pressure from Tucson and Marana to the east. Constructing a new interstate west of this national park would doom wildlife there forever.
  • Should there be a proven need for expanded capacity, making improvements to the existing Interstate 10 corridor is the best alternative to manage increased traffic volumes in southern Arizona. All transportation options also need to be investigated, including an expanded rail corridor between Tucson and Phoenix and multi-modal transportation solutions generally. 

Want to read the Coalition’s comment letter? Check it out here and feel free to quote us or use any of the language in our letter to help you with yours!

 

Thank you for speaking out and using your voice to make a difference! 

 

Questions? Please give us a call at (520) 388-9925 or send us an email at admin@sonorandesert.org. 

Action Alert: Sign on to “A Conservation Vision for Arizona’s Water Future”!

Posted on: 2 Comments

March 30, 2017

The conservation of our water resources is essential for the future health and resilience of both people and wildlife. A group of organizations, including the Coalition and spearheaded by Coalition member group Sierra Club-Grand Canyon Chapter, recently drafted “A Conservation Vision for Arizona’s Water Future.” This visionary document outlines the many reasons and ways we believe Arizona water policy needs to be changed and revised. More than anything, the Coalition believes environmental water needs should be considered in Arizona water policy. This includes policies that try to keep our rivers, streams, and springs flowing and subsequently support our incredible Sonoran Desert wildlife. 

The vision document states in part:

“We believe a clearer vision of water sustainability for Arizona’s future is needed, one that would:
• Consider environmental water needs and propose policies to keep rivers, streams, and springs flowing;
• Consider the water needs of rural Arizona;
• Incorporate the high probability that climate change will afflict Arizona with multidecadal droughts, increased temperatures, and diminished water supplies;
• Include new possibilities for controlling water demand through creative and strong water conservation measures; and
• Include a comprehensive economic evaluation of alternative augmentation techniques and advanced water reuse technology.”

It also concludes, “We are committed to including a broad range of stakeholders (both large and small) in the discussion, including our towns and communities, rural communities, Indian tribes, grassroots and community groups, local businesses, and the environmental community.”

Will you support “A Conservation Vision for Arizona’s Water Future” by adding your name in support of this document? We are seeking both individuals and organizations to sign on so please inform any organizations that you are involved in that this opportunity for action is available to them too. Sign on here

You can read the full vision document here

Going forward, we will be keeping you updated on how this new vision document will be used to advocate directly to Arizona’s water policy decision-makers and other ways you can be involved. 

Thank you for supporting water policies that support our environment and wildlife! 

In the News: Oracle Road wildlife crossing results make a splash!

Posted on:

March 16, 2017

The new progress report on the first year of monitoring of the Oracle Road wildlife crossings has been a hot topic this week. 

The full report can be found here.

A KVOA4 news story on March 13, 2017, featuring Coalition Advisory Committee member Christina McVie, can be viewed here.

An article in the AZ Daily Star on March 15, 2017 can be found here

A Pima County news release on March 15, 2017 can be found here

A CBS News story on March 16, 2017 can be found here

A U.S. News & World Report story on March 16, 2017 can be found here

We have been a proud partner in this project since the very beginning and our volunteers and supporters continue to be essential to the future success of this project. Did you know Coalition volunteers monitor a set of cameras in the approach areas of the Oracle Road wildlife bridge? The data from these cameras is being shared with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to help them understand what animals are approaching the crossings but are not yet comfortable enough to use them. Some animals take longer to acclimate to new crossings – since these crossings are the first of their kind in the Sonoran Desert, we hope to learn how long it takes different species to use the crossings over the next few years. 

Thank you for everything you do to help protect and re-connect our important Sonoran Desert wildlife linkages! 

Action Alert: Oppose Bill that Repeals Arizona State Parks Board!

Posted on:

March 9, 2017

The Arizona State House of Representatives recently moved forward HB2369, which contains provisions to repeal the Arizona State Parks Board. This destructive bill has not been heard by the Arizona State Senate yet – will you voice your opposition to this bill by adding your name to a growing list of organizations and individuals that oppose HB2369? Read the letter and sign here.

The State Parks Board’s purpose is to “select, acquire, preserve, establish, and maintain areas of natural features, scenic beauty, historical, and scientific interest, and zoos and botanical gardens, for the education, pleasure, recreation, and health of the people…” Elimination of the State Parks Board will mean less transparency, fewer opportunities for public engagement on a broad level, and one less entity to advocate for a parks system badly in need of more advocates.

So many of us love and enjoy our nearby state parks such as Catalina State Park and Kartchner Caverns State Park. Our collective voice is needed now to let the Arizona State Legislature know that Arizonans want our state parks overseen by a transparent, diverse State Parks Board.

Thank you for taking action today!

Update March 23, 2017

Yesterday, the Senate Government Committee passed HB2369 on a 6-1 vote BUT they amended the bill to remove the provisions about eliminating the State Parks Board. This is fantastic news – your voice was heard! The bill will still have to be heard and voted on by the full Senate and we are hopeful this amendment will hold. We will keep you updated as we learn more. 

Pima County’s Multi-Species Conservation Plan Becomes a Reality

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After close to two decades of planning, Pima County’s Multi-Species Conservation Plan (MSCP) has become a reality. On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the Pima County Board of Supervisors gave their final stamp of approval to this long-awaited conservation plan.

With conservationists, homebuilder, realtors, ranchers, and developers on board, this plan will protect 44 Sonoran Desert wildlife species. These species include seven that are currently listed as endangered. The remaining 37 species could become endangered during the 30-year life of the plan.

“While many regional Habitat Conservation Plan have been approved before, Pima County’s MSCP is unique in that local officials truly embrace the intent of the Endangered Species Act,” said the Coalition’s Director, Carolyn Campbell. “This plan takes a regional approach to conservation and will protect not only the 44 covered species but also a diverse range of habitats found within the Sonoran Desert.”

Pima County’s MSCP is part of an application for an Incidental Take Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish and Wildlife granted this permit in July 2016. On September 6, the Board of Supervisors approved the “Implementation Agreement” for the plan, which outlines the various responsibilities of the County and Fish and Wildlife as the plan is executed. By voting to approve this agreement, the clock has officially started on the 30-year plan.

Steve Huffman, government affairs director for the Tucson Association of Realtors, described the MSCP as a “win, win, win,” for the county, developers and conservationists.

The MSCP is one piece of Pima County’s larger Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. This nationally-recognized plan also includes a substantial open space preserve system throughout Pima County, which will serve as mitigation lands under the MSCP. Since 1997, Pima County has protected over 200,000 acres of open space, either through the lease of State Trust Lands or through outright purchases.

This preserve system allows the County to also include private development under the permit, one reason why the plan is supported by developers. One of the larger goals of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is to balance development and conservation, directing development to appropriate areas and protecting the most biologically-rich places of the region.

Thank you to all our supporters for their persistent and passionate support for the MSCP and the Coalition over the past 18 years – this accomplishment is yours too! 

Submit scoping comments today on the I-11 Environmental Impact Statement!

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The proposed Interstate 11 is moving forward and your comments on this proposal are needed now! The Arizona Department of Transportation and Federal Highways Administration are holding a series of scoping meetings throughout Arizona this month for a new Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed Interstate 11 segment between Nogales and Wickenburg.

There are two meetings this week in the Tucson region. Both meetings are from 4-6:30pm with a short presentation at 4:15pm and an open house format after the presentation is finished.

Wednesday, June 22
Arizona Riverpark Inn
777 W. Cushing St.
Tucson, AZ

Thursday, June 23
Marana Middle School Gymnasium
11285 W. Grier Rd.
Marana, AZ

Comments will be accepted at the meetings on June 22 and June 23 and up until the final comment deadline of July 8. More information about the project can be found at i11study.com/Arizona.

The Coalition’s final scoping comments can be found here.  The main issues we address and which we encourage you to address in your comments too include:

  • Impacts to federal and local protected open space lands such as Ironwood Forest National Monument, Saguaro National Park, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Central Arizona Project mitigation corridor, City of Tucson mitigation lands for their Avra Valley Habitat Conservation Plan, and Pima County mitigation lands for their Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
  • Impacts to highly threatened wildlife linkages and have been identified in multiple planning processes, including the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, Arizona Wildlife Linkages Assessment, and Pima County Wildlife Linkages Assessment. These linkages include the Ironwood-Picacho wildlife linkage, Avra Valley wildlife linkage, and Ironwood-Tortolita wildlife linkage.
  • Impacts to Pima County’s Conservation Lands System, an integral piece of both the larger Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and the more targeted Multi-Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
  • Impacts to riparian habitat specifically, an increasingly rare and threatened habitat type that 80% of vertebrate species in the Southwest are dependent upon for some part of their life cycle (Noss and Peters 1995).

Comments can be submitted in a few different ways.

Interstate 11 Tier 1 EIS Study Team

c/o ADOT Communications
1655 W. Jackson St., MD 126F
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Thank you for submitting comments on this important issue!

Coalition hosting the Wild and Scenic Film Festival on August 17th

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WSFF-Logo
CELEBRATION OF OUR ENVIRONMENT!
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival comes to Tucson

The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection will once again host the Wild & Scenic Film Festival at the Loft Cinema on Wednesday, August 17th, at 6:30pm.

PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS TODAY!!

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is a collection of films from the annual festival held the third week of January in Nevada City, CA which is now in its 14th year! Wild & Scenic focuses on films which speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet. “Films featured at Wild & Scenic give people a sense of place,” says Tour Associate Director, Amelia Workman. “In today’s busy world, it is easy to disconnect from our role in the global ecosystem. When we realize that the change we need in this world begins with us, we start making a difference. Come get inspired!”

This event will inspire the people of Tucson to go out and make a difference in the community. This is the Coalition’s fifth year hosting the festival and past films have inspired local activism and raised awareness in a powerful way. This year, we will continue to show a series of motivating and entertaining films to bring strong and impactful messages to our community, including the Coalition’s first ever short film! Before the films begin, local conservation organizations will be on hand to share information about conservation efforts in our region. Music and food available at the Loft will round out a fun and inspiring evening!

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) in 2003. The festival’s namesake is in celebration of SYRCL’s landmark victory to receive “Wild & Scenic” status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999. The 5-day event features over 150 award-winning films and welcomes over 100 guest speakers, celebrities, and activists who bring a human face to the environmental movement. The home festival kicks-off the international tour to over 150 communities around the globe, allowing SYRCL to share their success as an environmental group with other organizations. The festival is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal of using film to inspire activism. With the support of National Partners: Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Orion Magazine, Klean Kanteen, Earthjustice, and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, the festival can reach an even larger audience.

For more information about the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, go to www.wildandscenicfilmfestival.org.

EVENT DETAILS:

When: Wednesday, August 17th – 6:30pm

Where: The Loft Cinema, 3233 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, Arizona

Tickets: $8.00 in advance, $10.00 at the door night of event. Purchase your tickets online now.

For more information contact Hannah Stitzer, sarah.whelan@sonorandesert.org or at 520-388-9925.

2016 Film Program (click the image to view larger)

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A special thanks to our local sponsors!

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