Friends of the Desert #19

Friends of the Desert
E-News Issue #19
June 6, 2003
*A project of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection*
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* ACTION ALERT: Board of Supervisors meeting to vote on Open Space
Bond election, June 17th!! 
* SDCP Steering Committee Update 
* Please write to protect lands State Trust Lands on the NW side! 
* Volunteer Pizza Parties, June 9th and 11th 
* Mark your calendars! Coalition forum, August 16th: SDCP Update
and Public Input Opportunities 

* ACTION ALERT: Please attend the Board of Supervisors meeting, June
17th, for open space bond vote!!

As part of the SDCP implementation, the Coalition has been
advocating for an open space bond for November of this year. Working
with the bond advocacy group, the "Friends of the Sonoran Desert",
members have been busy giving presentations to civic, neighborhood,
and other community groups about the importance of this bond in
being able to support the goals of the SDCP and otherwise protect
valuable open space–and we have gotten the Board’s attention!

On Tuesday, June 17th, the Board will be discussing whether or not
to put an open space bond on the ballot for November � AND WE NEED
YOUR HELP!! Please attend this meeting and let the Supervisors know
that you support a $250 million open space bond being on this year’s
November ballot. The County needs to hear from YOU in order for
them to understand what we already know � that the public believes
strongly in the protection of our community’s natural resources for
current and future generations, AND they are willing to support the
establishment of specific funds, like open space bonds, to make this
happen. The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors’
hearing room, 1st floor, 130 W. Congress, beginning at 9am on
Tuesday, June 17th.

If you cannot attend the meeting, PLEASE CALL OR WRITE the
Supervisors with your support:

The mailing address for all Supervisors: 130 West Congress Street,
11th floor, Tucson, AZ 85701

Phone, fax and email addresses:
District 1 – Ann Day, Tel: (520) 740-2738; Fax: (520) 740-8489;
District 2 – Dan Eckstrom, Tel: (520) 740-8126; no email
District 3 – Sharon Bronson�Chair, Tel: (520) 740-8051;
District 4 – Ray Carroll, Tel: (520) 740 8094; Fax: (520) 740- 2721;
District 5 – Richard El�as, Tel: (520) 740-8126;

For more information, or to find out how to get more involved,
please call the Coalition office at 388-9925. 

* SDCP Steering Committee Work Completed!!
The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan Steering Committee finalized
its recommendations on the SDCP for the Board of Supervisors at its
last scheduled meeting on May 21st. The recommendations will be
compiled into a report for the Supervisors, and will also be
discussed by the Supervisors at the June 17th meeting.

The Coalition has been actively participating in this committee
since it began meeting nearly 5 years ago. Thanks to a lot of hard
work and countless hours of discussion and deliberation between
members of varying interests, the committee was able to reach
agreement on important issues � many of which were proposed by the
Coalition. Some of the committee’s recommendations that the
Coalition proposed include: 
* That the plan take an "ecosystem" approach to protect 55
vulnerable species, including both federally protected and non-
protected species, as opposed to a plan protecting only eight to 12
federally protected species. 
* That the county Board of Supervisors put on the November
2003 ballot a $250 million bond issue to buy open space for the
* That county land protection efforts emphasize the county’s
rarest habitat types: 181,000 acres of cottonwood-willow riparian
habitat, mixed deciduous riparian forests, mesquite bosque and
sacaton grassland that exist on private and state land. 
* That the county create a network of connected, protected
lands where native habitat and natural corridors remain. 
* That the county systematically evaluate lands throughout
eastern Pima County to identify protection priorities in all
biologically important areas.

While there is some discussion of re-convening at a later date to
discuss actions taken by the Board, there are no additional meetings
scheduled at this time.

It is anticipated that the Board will incorporate the Committee’s
recommendations into a more detailed version of the SDCP to be
released to the public for additional input. The Coalition will be
hosting a public forum in August (see below for details) to discuss
the timeline for the finalization of the SDCP, the specifics of the
Steering Committee recommendations, and opportunities for public

In addition, the long-awaited economic analysis of the Section 10
permit of the SDCP has been released. The analysis was completed
for Pima County by ESI Corporation and SWCA Environmental
Consultants and presented to the Steering Committee at the May 10th
meeting. Copies of the report are available from the County
Administrator’s Office, 740-8661.

The Coalition feels that the report has merit in that it
incorporates information regarding both the potential costs and
benefits of obtaining a permit under the SDCP. However, we are
concerned by the lack of attention given to acquiring or otherwise
protecting some of the most biologically significant lands; in
particular, those on the Northwest side that have been identified as
crucial to the pygmy-owl. The Coalition, while advocating for the
ecosystem approach for conservation under the Plan, has always
maintained that some especially imperiled species, such as the pygmy-
owl and the Pima pineapple cactus, will require special protections
in order for them to survive and recover. The Coalition feels that,
without these lands, the SDCP will not meet the intent and
requirement of the Endangered Species Act � which prompted the
County to undertake the SDCP process � of providing an overall
benefit to the pygmy-owl through the provisions specified in the
Plan. Further strengthening this position is the SDCP Steering
Committee’s recommendation of habitat priorities for the SDCP, which
includes lands in this area, and the directive that the Board
prioritize lands for protection in all of the biologically important

* Please write to protect lands State Trust Lands on the NW side!
In 1997, Pima County requested that certain State Trust lands east
Tortolita Mountain Park be put into conservation status through the
Arizona Preserve Initiative (API) process–which would allow the
County to purchase these lands with matching State funds and
permanently preserve them.

However, the Town of Oro Valley wants to annex these lands (known to
them as "Section 16"; annexation request A-03-06), which means that
they would likely be developed. This area has pristine slopes, as
well as containing habitat that supports a variety of important
species; development would have a significant negative aesthetic and
ecological impact.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution opposing
this annexation, but the Coalition has been given indication that
the County is now being pressured into withdrawing that opposition.

The Coalition and its member groups will continue to discuss this
issue with the County, but we need you to weigh in! Please call or
write the Board of Supervisors and the State Lands Commissioner to
express 1) your support for the approval of the API application and
2) your opposition to the proposed annexation of these lands
("Section 16") by Oro Valley. The State Lands Department has
essentially been sitting on the issue, but we are hoping that the
new administration will demonstrate a more conservation-friendly
approach and approve the API request immediately.

Additional information that may be helpful to you includes:
This land has been identified under the Sonoran Desert Conservation
Plan as a "critical landscape linkage" and, as an important wildlife
corridor, provides for the essential life functions of many species.
Conserving this land would provide a link between BLM properties
east of the parcel and the Tortolita Mountain Park, bordering on the
west and south. This would be an important step toward building a
connected series of lands throughout Pima County, which will be
necessary to provide for the long-term survival and recovery of the
region’s wildlife.

Current infrastructure will not support intensive development in
this area, and providing for such would drastically alter the
characteristics of the area in a way that would effectively nullify
the ability of the area to support or be compatible with the
regional conservation goals of the SDCP.

Contact information: State Land Commissioner Mark Winkelman, 1616
Adams, Phoenix, Arizona, 85007; please see above section regarding
the open space bond vote for Pima County Supervisors’ contact

* Pizza Parties: Volunteers Needed for Newspaper Clipping and Phone
Tree, June 9th and 11th
The Coalition has a collection of conservation and SDCP articles,
but have fallen behind in keeping up with the papers over the last
year. Clipping the articles is very easy, but a little tedious for
one person to handle, so we’re asking for your help to get caught up.

As well, we need volunteers to call our Coalition groups’ members to
encourage them to attend the June 17 Board of Supervisors meeting.

We will be hosting a volunteer pizza party on June 9th from 1-5pm,
and on June 11th from 4-9pm in the Tucson Audubon Conference Room,
300 E. University (SE corner of 5th Avenue and University, enter
from the Courtyard on University). We have intentionally set long
work sessions so that people may participate as long or short a time
as they are able � whatever time you can volunteer, we’d appreciate

We’ll provide the pizza and drinks – just bring yourself and, if
possible, a pair of scissors and a stapler! So that we may
adequately anticipate how much food and beverages to provide, please
RSVP to Susan at 388-9925.

If you are not able to make these sessions, but would be interested
in helping, please contact the Coalition! 

* Mark your calendars! Coalition forum, August 16th, 9a-noon: SDCP
Update and Public Input Opportunities

The Coalition will be hosting a free public forum to update the
community on the SDCP and the timeline for finalization, to discuss
the recommendations of the Steering Committee and other advisory
teams about the plan, and to provide information about important
additional public input opportunities. The forum will be held on
Saturday, August 16th from 9am to noon at the Duval Auditorium at
University Medical Center (UMC, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.)
Announcements will be sent out as the date approaches, but please
make plans to attend now�this will be an important event that you
won’t want to miss!

Until next time!

Susan Shobe
Assistant Director
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection
300 E. University Blvd., #120
Tucson, AZ 85705
(520) 388-9925