Pima wins eco-acclaim

Pima wins eco-acclaim

County is named a ‘nature friendly community’
By Jeff Commings
ARIZONA DAILY STAR, Saturday 6-25-05

Attention all nature lovers: According to a new book, your efforts are paying off.

Pima County is recognized in "Nature-Friendly Communities" as one of 19 places in the country that actively works to protect local landscapes, natural resources and wildlife.

The book, released Friday, doesn’t rank the communities, but rather presents them in alphabetical order. Nine counties – including Cook County, Ill., home of Chicago – are presented as special case studies on extraordinary areas. Other areas listed in the book include Austin, Texas; Fort Collins, Colo.; and Teton County, Wyo.

The book devotes 15 pages to Pima County, detailing the county’s landscape and population. It also gives praise to the area’s citizens for keeping 30 percent of the land federally owned despite rapid growth, and also for helping preserve the abundant native plants and animals in the area.

"It doesn’t surprise me," said Dorothy Perlman, 67, of Pima County’s recognition while taking a break from her 1-mile walk on the trail along the Rillito River. "When I moved here, everyone kept telling me about all the wildlife around here and how I should always be aware of not feeding wild animals and letting the animals roam. I’ve lived all over the country and I’ve never known a community to be so concerned about being Earth-conscious."

Perlman, a retired banker, said she has also lived in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio and Rockville, Md., before settling in Tucson in 1989.

The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, intended to protect endangered and vulnerable species from development, also gets attention. Pima County’s seven-year plan is detailed in the book as an effort to keep urban growth from sucking up available water and land.

"It continues to confirm our fundamental principle about conservation,"
said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. "We have a community that got its foundation in growth of natural beauty of the Sonora Desert. Being environmentally sensitive and nature friendly is a viable economic tool."

Huckelberry said Pima County will trumpet its recent acclaim to visitors and future residents.

"We’ve been working pretty hard the last six years," he said, "and it’s not been without its controversy. It’s a lot of positive reinforcement that we’re going in the right direction."