Friends of the Desert #10

Friends of the Desert
E-News Issue #10
December 10, 2001
*A project of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection*
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*Ironwood Monument Update and Dec. 11 Meeting
*Comprehensive Plan Hearing this Wednesday Dec. 12
*County Science Receives High Marks from Peer Reviewers
*Upcoming Public Forums
*Attend January 9 SDCP Steering Committee Meeting

Environmentalists and representatives from ASARCO Mining Company (who
operates the Silverbell mine adjacent to the monument), continued to
discuss possible strategies to resolve the issue of trespass by
ASARCO, who has unauthorized facilities on public land within the
monument boundaries. Coalition members are working on negotiations in
the hopes that there will be a net gain for the monument with this
resolution. Both the Interior Secretary’s office and Congressman
Kolbe have assured us that they are hoping for a "local solution,"
instead of adjusting the monument boundaries for ASARCO. We
will continue to update you as we make progress.

The Tucson Field Office of the BLM is holding its next public meeting
on the development of the Ironwood Forest National Monument Resource
Management Plan this Tuesday, Dec. 11 from 6 pm to 9 pm at the Pinal
Air Park, Building 18. (Pinal Air Park is located in Marana, 4 miles
west of I-10; take Pinal Air Park exit #232.) This meeting will
provide an update on issues regarding the Ironwood National Monument,
including an update on the ASARCO situation and the resultant bighorn
sheep study, guidance for the planning process, and a review of the
recently released proclamation and interim management guides.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will be holding its one and only
public hearing on Pima County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan update
this Wednesday, December 12, as mandated by the state’s Growing
Smarter legislation and integrated by Pima County with the Sonoran
Desert Conservation Plan.

Why is this crucial to the SDCP? Comprehensive and General Plans
provide a blueprint for future growth by laying out a range of
possible densities and uses. With development being the number one
activity contributing to loss of habitat for species in Pima County,
the adoption of a strong comprehensive plan will help with
implementation of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

The Board of Supervisors is poised to adopt a Plan Update on December
18, but only if the Planning and Zoning Commission makes a
recommendation to the Board at their next meeting, so please plan to
attend and let your views be known. With adoption of the
Comprehensive Plan by the Board, we can begin the real work of
designing the biological reserve and accompanying policies for the
Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and its subset, the Section 10a
permit under the Endangered Species Act. Please plan to attend the
public hearings:

Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission
Public Hearing
Wednesday, December 12
9:00 am — (should last ALL day)
Leo Rich Theatre at the Tucson Convention Center
260 South Church Avenue, Tucson 85701

Pima County Board of Supervisors
Public Hearing
Tuesday, December 18
9:00 am
Board of Supervisors Hearing Room
130 W. Congress, 1st Floor, Tucson 85701

If you cannot attend, please call your Supervisor at 740-8126 and let
them know that you agree with the Coalition’s comments regarding the
Comprehensive Plan.

The County’s science process, which has involved over 50 local
scientists, was reviewed in late October by nationally recognized
conservation biology expert Reed Noss and by Laura Hood Watchman, of
Defenders of Wildlife. Watchman called the plan "at the cutting edge
of conservation planning," while Noss said it is in the top 10 percent
in scientific credibility of more than 300 habitat conservation plans
that have won federal approval.

The two praised some of the plan’s key features that critics have
found objectionable =96 insulation of the plan’s scientists from
politics, and linkage of the conservation plan with the county’s
proposed comprehensive land use plan. The reviewers said linking the
comprehensive plan and conservation plan will reduce conflicts between
them. They also praised the county for providing enough money and
staffing for the plan and for consulting with 150 experts on various
species. Their criticisms of the plan were mainly technical, but they
said the plan should look more closely at the effects of grazing and

The Coalition is currently planning for our next series of forums to
take place early next year. We have scheduled a forum on "Outdoor
Recreation and the SDCP" for Saturday, January 19, from 9am to 1pm.
As soon as we get the location firmed up, we will let you know.

Additional forums are also being planned on topics including
transportation, the economics of conservation and alternative funding
mechanisms for the SDCP. As always, these forums are free and open to
the public =96 please join us and learn more about the issues
surrounding the SDCP.

The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan Steering Committee will be
meeting January 9, 2002, from 7pm to 9pm at the Tucson Estates
Recreation Center, 5900 W. Western Way Circle in Tucson. (Call
520-321-1111 for directions.) We hope to see you there!