Archive for the ‘In the Spotlight’ Category

Top 5 Reasons to Vote NO on Prop 301

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1. Arizonans have long identified preserving open space as one of their most important values. Proposition 301 was referred to the ballot by the legislature to raid the Land Conservation Fund. This is a voter-approved fund for conserving land and the only state fund dedicated to saving State Trust lands near Arizona communities.  Many of these State Trust land parcels contain crucial wildlife habitat, wildlife linkages, riparian areas, and other natural resources.

2. State Trust lands comprise 35 percent of the land base in eastern Pima County (25 percent is privately-owned). The Land Conservation Fund is the only dedicated state funding to help Pima County and other communities purchase State Trust land for conservation and open space.

3. Land Conservation Fund dollars are matched dollar for dollar by communities to buy State Trust land. Together these funds primarily benefit public education. When the legislature takes this $123 million, it is really taking twice that from the schools.

4. The Land Conservation Fund benefits lands identified in Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP). With the adoption of the SDCP planning process in 1998, and the many successful implementation steps taken in the ensuing 12 years, Pima County is ahead of the curve on regional land use planning. Without the Land Conservation Fund, Pima County would not be able to afford the purchase of State Trust lands – they are simply too expensive. Biologically sensitive State Trust lands identified in the SDCP could be developed in a piecemeal fashion, resulting in unnecessary habitat destruction.

5. In recent news articles, legislators have said that by sweeping Land Conservation Fund monies into the General Fund, this money can be spent on more important things like schools and health care. However, there is absolutely no assurance the money will be spent in this way. It could just as easily be used to off-set corporate tax breaks or other priorities the legislators identify. If they intended to spend this money on schools and health care, they should have said so in Prop 301.  They did not.

 

Background

Prop 301 was referred to the ballot by the Arizona State Legislature for the November 2010 election and asks the voters to approve sweeping all the funds in the Land Conservation Fund into the General Fund. During the previous two legislative sessions, the Legislature tried to sweep these funds without voter approval but a judge ruled that voter approval is necessary.

The Land Conservation Fund was created by voters in 1998 as part of the Arizona Preserve Initiative (API) and is the only state fund dedicated to helping communities save State Trust land. The API itself was created by the legislature in 1996 and was designed to preserve select State Trust land parcels around urban areas for conservation. The API established a process whereby communities could purchase State Trust lands for conservation without going to auction. However, due to a lawsuit threat, this was later amended. Now, all State Trust lands must go through an official auction to the highest bidder.

By creating the Land Conservation Fund, voters authorized the state to appropriate $20 million to the Land Conservation Fund every year. This appropriation is scheduled to end in 2011. A “Growing Smarter Grant” program was created in order to disburse the monies in the Land Conservation Fund. Communities can apply for “Growing Smarter Grants” to help purchase specific State Trust land parcels for conservation. Communities must provide a dollar for dollar match to the grant. Thus, once utilized, the Land Conservation Fund dollars actually go twice as far in their benefit to Arizona schools and other beneficiaries of the State Trust.

After receiving a provisional “Growing Smarter Grant,” jurisdictions request an auction from the State Land Department. In doing this, they are taking a risk that they could be out-bid on the purchase of the State Trust land parcels. This is one reason that there is currently $123 million in the Land Conservation Fund. With that said, communities are using the Land Conservation Fund to purchase and preserve State Trust land parcels for conservation and open space. In 2009 Pima County bought 320 acres of State Trust land on Tumamoc Hill at auction for $4.7 million. Phoenix and Scottsdale have requested auctions on parcels of land in the fall of 2010 that could potentially use an additional $50 million of the Land Conservation Fund.

 

tumamoc4.jpg
View of Tumamoc Hill. Photo by Pima County. 

 

 

Arizona Preserve Initiative Timeline

1996  

The Arizona Preserve Initiative (API) was passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

•    The API was intended to encourage the preservation of select State Trust land near urban areas for the benefit of future generations. It set up a process for specific lands to be deemed eligible for conservation and then sold to a state agency or local jurisdiction.

•    State Lands within 1 to 3 miles of municipalities, dependent on population, were eligible for preservation under API.  Lands must be sold at appraised market value.

•    The original intent of API was to allow the acquisition of lands for conservation purchases to occur without public auction. This would ensure that the lands would not be bid on for development purposes.

1997-1999  

Amendments to API were passed by the Legislature which expanded eligible lands in Maricopa and Pima County to a 13 mile radius surrounding incorporated areas. The Tortolita Mountains area in Pinal County became eligible for preservation through the amendments.

1998       

Voters approved a proposition which authorized funding of the program from 2000 to 2011. This proposition allocated $20 million per year to be utilized as matching funds for the purchase of State Trust lands.

2003      

Just before Tumamoc Hill was scheduled to be sold to Pima County for preservation, a group     known as People for the West filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of API. They stated that the land must be sold through a public auction to the highest bidder. The case never went to court, but as a result of the filing the State does not now allow land to be sold without going to public auction.

2009      

With the assistance of a “Growing Smart Grant” from the Land Conservation Fund, Pima County purchased 320 acres of State Trust land on Tumamoc Hill for $4.7 million at public auction. Also in 2009, Pima County purchased 67.17 acres at the Valencia Site for $940,000. Pima County was the only bidder at both of these auctions.

2010      

As of March 2010, there have been 15 land sales through the API. Totaling 5,908 acres, this land has added approximately $215 million to the permanent Trust funds. There are 11 pending sale applications, totaling 15,461 acres.

 

Please Vote NO on Prop 301

To read the official text of the proposed amendment and ballot arguments for and against the proposition, please visit the AZ Secretary of State’s site:

http://www.azsos.gov/election/2010/Info/PubPamphlet/english/Prop301.htm

Furnace Creek 508

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On October 2-4, Bruce Gungle, a long-time supporter and friend of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and Sky Island Alliance (SIA), will be competing solo in the Furnace Creek 508 bike race, for "Team Coonhound" (http://the508.com/). The total distance is 508 miles, to be covered within 48 hours. The course goes from Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles, CA, through Mojave and Trona into Panamint Valley, over Townes Pass and into Death Valley. The race finishes in Twenty-nine Palms. Team Coonhound includes Sky Island Alliance stellar IT support, Juan Rascon and Sergio Avila, SIA’s Northern Mexico Program Manager, as crew.

Team Coonhound is raising funds to support the work of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and Sky Island Alliance. They are asking for you to contribute whatever is significant for you. The fundraising goal is $4000, to be split equally between both organizations; Bruce has contributed $100 already. They encourage folks to pledge a certain amount per mile completed in the race (i.e., $0.25/mile = $25 should we manage 100 miles; $50 should we manage 200 miles; $100 should we manage 400 miles; or $127 should we manage to complete the entire 508 miles in the allowed time of 48 hours).

 

***Make your pledge by clicking here***

(Please note, this link will take you away from the Coalition website, but you will return after completing the pledge form.)

 

After the race is over we’ll send out another email letting everyone know how it went and how to make good on your pledge.

For those of you who make a pledge, a donation, or are just interested in the race, crew members will be posting periodic updates on the progress of the race that can be followed on CSDP and SIA Facebook pages.

Thanks for your support!

About our organizations:

For 12 years the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection has been hard at work ensuring that sound science and planning are brought to the table as Pima County implements and develops the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is a multi-faceted plan designed to steer commercial and residential development into less biologically sensitive areas and to preserve the more biologically sensitive parts of the County. In particular, the Coalition has ensured that this plan is based on the best available science rather than economics or politics, and has been incredibly effective at doing so.

Sky Island Alliance works to protect and restore the native species and habitats of the sky island region in southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and the adjacent Mexican states of Sonora and Chihuahua. Sky Island Alliance works to document the presence and movement of wild cats, to understand their needs of core habitat and corridors, and to ensure that safe monitoring techniques are used to achieve these ends (http://www.skyislandalliance.org/jaguars.htm ). The Bring Back the Cats! Campaign was initiated by a couple of donors who feel, as Team Coonhound does, that it’s important to ensure that jaguars and ocelots once again roam our mountains and our imaginations here in the U.S.

 

***Make your pledge by clicking here***

(Please note, this link will take you away from the Coalition website, but you will return after completing the pledge form.)

 

Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival

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The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection is proud to host
 
 WSEFF
 

Wednesday, September 15th, 6:30pm

The Loft Cinema

3233 E Speedway Blvd, Tucson, AZ

$10 General Admission

Tickets on sale NOW at Summit Hut , Antigone Books , and the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop !

The Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival On Tour brings together a selection of films from the annual festival held each January in Nevada City, CA. The chosen films not only highlight environmental concerns but also provide solutions, reaching people through beautiful imagery, and inspiring local individuals to get involved in “Conserving the Wild & Scenic Places Close to Home.”

 

Share the event with your friends on Facebook!

 

 

Thanks to our Local Sponsors

Summit Hut

Betts

antigone-copy.jpg

Brooklyn

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Nicolé Brule- Fisher

Tucson’s First Certified EcoBroker® & Tucson’s First NAR GREEN designee

 

 Eclectic

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Learning More About Wildlife Linkages

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Urban development and roadway construction seriously threaten the ability of wildlife to freely move throughout the Artist Rendering of SR77 Overpasslandscape. This movement is necessary for foraging, mating, and dispersal in search of home ranges. Development and the construction of roads through wildlife habitat can disrupt this movement, creating negative consequences such as reduced genetic diversity within wildlife populations. Preserving wildlife linkages in Pima County is one of the goals of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Through a variety of initiatives, strategies, and projects, the Coalition hopes to preserve open space within the linkages while also addressing significant barriers that currently exist for sufficient wildlife movement across the landscape.

Learn more about our work on wildlife linkages within Pima County.

Landmark Tumamoc Hill sold to county

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Landmark Tumamoc Hill sold to county
By Erica Meltzer
ARIZONA DAILY STAR

After more than a decade of false starts, wrong turns and roadblocks, it was over in just a few minutes. Pima County made the winning, and only, bid in a state trust land auction

Monday for 320 acres on Tumamoc Hill and became the owner of the site that once served as the poster child for state trust land reform. The county plans to preserve the site from development in perpetuity.

The small group of local politicians, environmentalists and bureaucrats gathered for the auction in Downtown Tucson broke into nervous laughter and then fierce applause as the auction closed.

Pima County will pay $4.7 million, the appraised value and minimum bid price, with half the money coming from county bond funds and the other half from state matching funds.

"This is a property I’ve desired to not have in our portfolio for a long time," State Land Commissioner Mark Winkleman said. "It’s a shame we’re only doing this because the state of the economy is so dismal. What it really points out is that we need a better tool. We really need state trust land reform back on the agenda."

Tumamoc Hill, just west of Downtown, holds cultural significance going back to Hohokam times and also is the site of the University of Arizona Desert Laboratory’s century-old research plots that provide irreplaceable information about the area’s climate and ecology.

The lab itself, on top of the hill, is not part of the parcel that was sold Monday. The university has a long-term lease on that site. But the 320-acre parcel bordered by West Anklam and North Greasewood roads includes some research plots.

Tumamoc Hill was considered for preservation back in 1995 when it was proposed for inclusion in the Arizona Preserve Initiative. The initiative was ruled unconstitutional after a lawsuit.

Several attempts to pass federal legislation to condemn Tumamoc Hill failed, as did a 2006 constitutional amendment to change the state trust land system.County officials decided to take advantage of the downturn in the real estate market to risk an auction in which the highest bidder would walk away with the property.

Some county officials weren’t sure about going ahead with the auction until two weeks ago, when the City Council agreed the city would take ownership of a 25-acre landfill on the site that was operated by the city in the 1960s.

"It’s a very exciting day, not just for open space and for environmentalists, but for all of our community," said Councilwoman Regina Romero, who represents the West Side.

"This is an important cultural icon for the entire community. We finally did the right thing."Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, had been nervous about risking an auction.
"I’m pretty excited," Campbell said. "There were people on the edge of their seats up to the last minute. We didn’t know if another bidder would show up."

Campbell said she now believes the time is right for the county to take more calculated risks, especially while state matching funds remain available, but the real need is for state trust land reform. Environmental groups already are planning for a 2010 ballot measure.

"I think we have an opportunity to do more of this, especially in the Tortolita fan," Campbell said. "The county needs to take a cautious approach because every time we do this, it’s a gamble. Tumamoc was probably the safest gamble, but it still was a gamble."

Did you know
Tumamoc Hill was selected for the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Desert Laboratory to study adaptations of plants to aridity in 1903. The saguaro-studded hill overlooked what was then a small university town of 10,000 people. In 1956, the University of Arizona bought the Desert Lab to house the new department of geochronology.
Published: 02.24.2009

Contact reporter Erica Meltzer at 807-7790 or emeltzer@azstarnet.com.

 

Clean Water Act is threatened

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Officials: Surface water regulation up in air
By Dick Kamp
Wick News Service
SV Herald 6/01/08 – text in previous email

Editorial: Congress should save Clean Water Act
Green Valley News
Published: Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:08 PM MDT
http://www.gvnews.com/articles/2008/06/05/news/news05.txt
text http://www.gvnews.com/articles/2008/06/05/news/news05.prt

State fears loss of surface-water rights
By Dick Kamp, Wick News Service
Green Valley News & Sun
Published: Thursday, June 5, 2008 6:08 PM MDT
text http://www.gvnews.com/articles/2008/06/05/news/news04.prt

Santa Cruz River studies may impact mining, development
By Dick Kamp, Wick News Service
Green Valley News & Sun
Published: Saturday, June 21, 2008 7:32 PM MDT
http://www.gvnews.com/articles/2008/06/21/news/news07.txt%20-%2052k
text http://www.gvnews.com/articles/2008/06/21/news/news07.prt

Corps action on Santa Cruz riles legislators
By Dick Kamp, Wick News Service
Sierra Vista Herald
Published on Tuesday, August 12, 2008
http://www.svherald.com/articles/2008/08/12/news/doc48a12791869e9860784931.txt
text http://www.svherald.com/articles/2008/08/12/news/doc48a12791869e9860784931.prt

A COUNTY EXPLOITS A CRIPPLED CLEAN WATER ACT
ANALYSIS BY DICK KAMP for Az papers 8 22 08 revisions
Wick Communications Environmental Liaison (SOUTHERN AZ LONG VERSION)
http://www.nogalesinternational.com/articles/2008/08/22/news/news2.txt

A County Exploits A Crippled Clean Water Act

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A COUNTY EXPLOITS A CRIPPLED CLEAN WATER ACT; OBAMA PROMISES HELP

ANALYSIS BY DICK KAMP for Az papers  8 20 08 revisions
Wick Communications Environmental Liaison (SOUTHERN AZ LONG VERSION)
 
The federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972 have gone from being a powerful tool created by the Nixon administration to prevent and enforce anti-pollution laws at the state and federal level to an excuse to avoid enforcement by cities and counties across the West ­ including Pima County.
 
Better known as the Clean Water Act, it boasts statutory authority to control pollution discharges regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, state and regional agencies, as well as to oversee the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ job of issuing permits to keep waters flowing.
 
The breakdown is a result of United States v. Rapanos, a Supreme Court decision in June 2006 that addressed the Clean Water Act’s ability to protect wetlands that had uncertain connections to bodies of water. The court case addressed the corps’ authority under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to regulate wetlands.
 
The Rapanos decision resulted in a strange split reflective of the politics of the court. Four members of the court wanted the old authority of the Act to apply; four wanted a restrictive interpretation that said that the water had to be flowing for the Act to regulate. Justice Anthony Kennedy insisted that there needed to be a “significant nexus” between a streambed and “a navigable water of the United States.”
 
Suddenly, every potential streambed in the country required an analysis of whether it was connected to another that could have or has had water craft on it before it could be protected from pollution or disruption.
 
What turmoil this stirred in the West, where the sunsets are magnificent, very little water is perennial, and many tributaries to sometimes peripheral streams are dry. Who knows what all the Supremes were thinking about regarding our arid ecology as they pondered how to regulate the country’s waterways.
 
In 1975, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the old Phelps Dodge Douglas, Ariz., smelter couldn’t discharge pollution into a nearby arroyo under the Act; the first of many precedents for the Act’s broad authority prior to 2006. (An earlier 2001 Supreme Court case did halt protection of isolated waterways for migrating birds, the first step in reducing authority.)
 
Most attorneys­both pro and con stronger federal enforcement­as well as the EPA’s enforcement division, concluded that the Rapanos decision applies to all aspects of the Clean Water Act, not just the corps’ Section 404 authority.
 
In fact, EPA headquarters, according to an internal memo from March released by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Ca), has ceased seriously pursuing enforcement of the Clean Water Act at least half the time.
 
Reform of the Act
 
Congressional efforts are underway to restore the Act to its original strength before the Bush Supreme Court left us with thousands of weird decisions to be made such as: “Is the Santa Cruz River navigable?”
 
This is a question that we should not have to see answered in order to get pollution controlled or diversions into the river regulated.

The Clean Water Restoration Act (HR 2421 and SB 8) is sitting quietly in committee in the House and Senate, introduced by Congressman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and Senator Russell Feingold (D-Wis). The 176 co-sponsors (including fellow Democrat, Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva) have set out to restore to the Clean Water Act the authority that Congress had accepted pre-Rapanos. Oberstar-Feingold may require amended language before it can pass through both chambers to be signed by another regulatory-minded president.

 Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) has not signed on to the bill, although she says she sees it’s mission as critical. She says she is committed to responding to Oberstar’s request, following the April hearing, “to move beyond the rhetoric and address the legitimate concerns about protecting our nation’s waters.” But her concern, shared by some moderates and conservatives, is that Oberstar-Feingold may grant the Act too much authority over private property.
Gov. Janet Napolitano is a strong supporter of Oberstar-Feingold. Water Quality Director Joan Card of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, testified on her behalf at an April hearing held by Oberstar that 96 percent of the state watercourses may be in danger of being poorly regulated under the Act, a figure also cited by EPA Region 9.
 
Obama-McCain Priorities?
 
In response to a query as to whether he would make restoration of the authority of the Act a priority in his administration, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s chief spokesperson, Shannon Gilson, replied, “A variety of court rulings have left about half of the nation’s streams, rivers and over 20 million acres of wetlands less protected than the federal Clean Water Act intended. These decisions also create uncertainty and less predictability for municipalities, businesses and the public.”
 
“Accordingly, waters of the United States should be defined in a way that reflects the vital role that streams and wetlands play in buffering property from the effects of flooding, enhancing water quality, ensuring safe drinking water, and providing important habitat,” said Gilson, adding that if elected, Obama “will support and sign into law legislation that effectively restores the historical scope of the Clean Water Act and thereby advances environmental protection, community values and public health objectives.”

Several futile attempts were made to obtain comments from Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain on how he would address Clean Water Act problems if elected president.
Industry likes Rapanos:
 
There are many who do not want to see the Oberstar-Feingold bill pass and who disagree with Obama. It is in their interests to keep big government off their backs.
 
Among them are the organizations that form WAC­the Waters Advocacy Coalition that presented Congressional testimony hostile to Oberstar’s bill at the April hearing. This “grass roots” organization includes 28 influential groups such as the National Mining Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest and Paper Association, American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Counties of which Pima is a member.
The testimony was presented by Washington attorney Virginia Albrecht.
According to John Bernal, Pima County Public Works assistant administrator, Albrecht has “assisted the county for several years under contract to the county attorney.” (Albrecht left a message for this reporter with her secretary that she would let Pima County discuss county matters.)
 
Albrecht is a respected Clean Water Act attorney for the pro-development-industry-mining-agriculture team and has argued before the Supreme Court.
 
She argued at the hearing that Oberstar-Feingold would impose “more federal regulation…..could have dire and unintended consequences by imposing further regulatory burdens on states and local communities, usurping state authorities”.
 
She called on Congress to “direct EPA and the corps to develop comprehensive regulations that provide greater clarity and predictability regarding the extent and limit of federal jurisdiction.” 
 
In other words, to put into concrete that the Clean Water Act will remain clearly defined as weak.

Pima exploits Rapanos
 
Albrecht apparently advised Pima County officials in their battle to claim that the Rapanos decision is indeed one that must be abided by­especially when it ensures that pollution and water diversion permits will fit individuals’ needs.
 
As far back as November, 2007, the county was operating under a memo from John Bernal that suggested that proving navigability should be a county strategy in addressing Army Corps permitting issues in order to try and get some issued. Thousands of such permits are backlogged nationally as a result of Rapanos.
In June, Deputy County Attorney Harlan Agnew presented testimony to ADEQ insisting that the agency could not establish new restrictive pollution regulations unless they proved that the streams were tributaries to navigable waters while simultaneously asking for special protection for Davidson Canyon ­ potentially from the proposed Rosemont Mine and other developments near the Santa Rita Mountains.
 
ADEQ’s Card interpreted the testimony as declaring that the state could not regulate pollution­including special protection for Davison Canyon. Did Pima County really care about polluting mines, wondered the agency aloud, or was it playing legal-political games?
 
Again, under post-Rapanos Clean Water Act world, a nexus to navigable water must be established to get the EPA and the Army Corps to protect such waterways as the Santa Cruz River and tributaries such as the Rillito River or Davidson Canyon.
 
It became public knowledge in early-June that the Los Angeles District office had declared the Santa Cruz River a “traditionally navigable water.”
 
Albrecht played a role in internal county memos such as one on June 25 that demanded the corps provide better justification for navigability of the Santa Cruz. She may have also assisted ex-Public Works staffer Greg Santos with his 10 pages of draft appeal written at that time against the navigable determination, or perhaps it was the county attorney’s office.
 
Sources in Washington close to the Army Corps have suggested that Albrecht may have met with Army Assistant Secretary John Paul Woodley immediately prior to his mysterious suspension of Santa Cruz navigability status at the beginning of July. Bernal says that the county had no part in a Woodley meeting and nothing is apparent in memos.
 
If the Santa Cruz is denied navigability determination, this could effectively stop the Army Corps from issuing or denying a permit for the proposed Rosemont mine for its impacts on Davidson Canyon.
 
On July 18, following newspaper reports on the county policy, the Pima Board of Supervisors called for an investigation of staff to determine if it had been hindering the navigable designation of the Santa Cruz River.
 
Yet, as recently as July 25, Administrator Chuck Huckelberry wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers to ask whether the county would be subject to the Clean Water Act Section 402 pollution discharge requirements related to storm water control if Pima voluntarily agreed to legal permit conditions addressing obstruction of water ways.
In other words, would the EPA or ADEQ not enforce the Clean Water Act?
 
In an Aug 1, letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, Grijalva said he wants EPA to investigate the Army Corps suspension of Santa Cruz River navigability. If the Corps does not declare the two stretches navigable, he wants the EPA to use their authority to override the Corps, as a “special case” based on unique features including its crossing international, tribal and other boundaries. Subsequently, EPA “can and must use its authority under the…Act..to declare the whole of the…River….navigable…so that the River and its tributaries can continue to be protected from un-permitted pollution and destruction.”
 
Grijalva says that the Santa Cruz case “appears to be the tip of the iceberg” of post-Rapanos damage. He demanded details of EPA Region 9 Rapanos-driven non-enforcement of pollution cases (the majority of them) discussed in the March memo released by Congressman Waxman.
 
Waxman and Oberstar upped the pressure on the Corps in an August 7 letter demanding explanations for how and why they were analyzing the Santa Cruz and Los Angeles Rivers.  Subsequently, on August 18, EPA agreed to become the lead agency to determine whether the entire Santa Cruz river from the border north and the LA River are “navigable”.
 
Pulling together to end Rapanos Disaster
 
Perhaps Pima County motivations can best be described as myopic. They wanted to move on with public works, they did not want some areas to get regulated where they contend regulations are unjustified. Rather than fighting on behalf of the substance of county concerns, staffers expended a lot of energy and taxpayer dollars exploiting the weaknesses of the Clean Water Act after a bad Supreme Court decision.
 
Pima County, like other less environmentally sympathetic regional and local governments in the West, has been making a pact with a devil. The county has been encouraging the long list of growing failures to regulate water in the West and nationally and these, in turn, are used as precedents by polluters and developers to cower a docile Bush EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
 
Harlan Agnew described to a reporter in June his objections over ADEQ trying to over-regulate sewage discharges and perhaps he is right. John Bernal has been concerned over public works projects in La Canada wash not getting permitted efficiently. Perhaps he is right.
 
They have been very wrong in aiding and abetting the dismantling of a federal regulatory tool that has saved lives and the environment.
 
Bernal, the former commissioner of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission under President Bill Clinton, now says, “The winds have shifted in the county” in fighting the Clean Water Act. He adds, “Rapanos has sowed a lot of confusion and it has slowed our ability to get our projects permitted. I guess we need Congressional reform to restore the strength of the Clean Water Act.”
 
He’s right, and bipartisan forces need to work quickly to heal this problem just as soon as the next President enters office. If they have problems with Oberstar-Feingold language­then come up with language that will work and get the votes to pass it. They must avoid bureaucratic excuses as to why industry and developments should not have water impacts regulated.
 
Pima is just one of many local governments exploiting a federal breakdown during an administration that has encouraged federal regulatory ambiguity.
Region 9 EPA staffers have described southern California towns hostile to regulation that have challenged any Clean Water Act pollution regulations affecting sewage plants and industrial plants located by dry washes.
 
In Nevada, according to EPA personnel, state and municipal regulatory officials have welcomed Rapanos as an excuse to back off of pollution enforcement.
 
The revelation that “conservationist” Pima County can act against the interests of conservation can be a regional lesson on balancing development and environmental protection. The crisis of the Clean Water Act however is growing and cities, counties, states and private citizens should be joining together to demand that Congress pass Oberstar-Feingold and halt the march to return to pre-Nixon water degradation in Arizona and across the country. Senator Obama says he will help. Senator McCain’s supporters should demand the same from their candidate. The next White House should see this as a top environmental priority.
 

Suppport More Open Space Acquisitions

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2008 Open Space Bond Needs Your Help!
As the 2004 Conservation Acquisition (Open Space) Program continues with implementation, Pima County is gearing up for another bond election in 2008. As of August 31, 2007, the County has spent nearly $75 million of the $174.3 million approved in the 2004 bond election. The County has acquired more than 25,500 acres of conservation land and holds grazing leases on an additional 86,000 acres of state trust land. All of these lands are an integral component to the success of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

The long-range vision of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan created an acquisition program that would necessitate a series of open space bonds in order to acquire all of the important conservation lands.  The citizens’ Conservation Acquisition Commission (CAC) has finalized its recommendation of $285 million for the 2008 Open Space Bond. The lands not yet acquired in the 2004 bond will be “rolled over” into the 2008 bond program, minus those that have since been developed. As well, there have been minor additions to the 2004 eligible property acquisition map.

These additions include additional private and state lands in the Tortolita Fan, grasslands, and lands associated with water rights, streams, and springs. The CAC also included a number of properties that have significance to the community. These properties include parcels at the base of Sentinel Peak (A Mountain), the West Desert Preserve in Green Valley, Rosemont Ranch, and private lands which would be added to Saguaro National Park.

Projects
Millions
Conservation Acquisition
   $285
Parks
  $357
Public Works
  $140
Law Enforcement
  $60
Transportation Safety
  $50
Cultural Resources
  $50
Affordable Housing
  $37.6
Neighborhood Reinvestment
  $31.75
Public Health Facilities /
Libraries
~$400

The 2008 Bond Program will fund various project categories in addition to Open Space. These categories include public works, justice and law enforcement, parks, transportation safety, affordable housing, neighborhood investment, libraries, public health facilities, and cultural resources. Each category was assigned to a subcommittee which will forward a recommendation to the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee (BAC). This Committee will review the proposals and send their recommendations to the Pima County Board of Supervisors in the coming months.
                                                           
The subcommittee proposals represent over $1.4 billion in project funding requests. It will now be up to the BAC to make cuts to the proposals in order to bring the bond package to somewhere in the range of $600 – $700 million.

Another important element to include is floodplain acquisitions. Pima County Regional Flood Control requested $10 million dollars to continue their program, but no funding was included in the Parks Subcommittee package.

In order for Open Space to be fully funded at $285 million, the BAC needs to hear from you!

Please let the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee know that the protection of the Sonoran Desert is your number one priority!
Please contact the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee and let them know you support:
·     $285 million for conservation acquisition
·     And an additional $10 million for flood plain acquisition.
Please take the time to send an email to bondinfo@pima.gov. You can also send letters to Nicole Fyffe, County Administrators Office, 130 W. Congress St., Floor 10, Tucson, AZ 85701.

Rosemont Mine Update – Save the Scenic Santa Ritas

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Dear Friends,

As you probably heard, Augusta Resource submitted their Mine Plan of Operations for Rosemont Ranch to the Forest Service on July 11, 2007. 

THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE MINE IS APPROVED!!!!  

The Forest Service now must review the plan for completeness to determine if there is enough detail to analyze the environmental impacts.  This may take 60 to 90 days, but could be sooner.  If the Forest Service decides to approve the plan, the NEPA process will begin.  This is the environmental review process and includes several opportunities for public input.

If you have not already done so, please contact the Forest Service at the address below and request to be put on the mailing list for the Rosemont Project.  You will then be notified of all public meetings and comment opportunities.

Beverly Everson
Coronado National Forest
300 West Congress St.
Tucson, AZ 85701

beverson@fs.fed.us

Please check our website for updates and more information.

Thanks,
Lainie Levick
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas
www.ScenicSantaRitas.org

Enter the NLCS Hike Contest

Posted on:

quot;Want to discover great hikes and a chance to win gear?"
Enter the National Landscape Conservation System Hikes Contest
The National Landscape Conservation System is the West’s best-kept secret. It holds the hidden treasures of the American West: 26 million acres of the Bureau of Land Management’s incomparable lands and waters, and miles of remote, rugged trails. It’s a network of the last places where you can experience the history and wild beauty of the American West.

Ironwood Forest National Monument and Las Cienegas National Conservation Area are local examples of great places to hike on Conservation System lands.

Share photos, details and a story about a special hike you’ve taken within the National Landscape Conservation System. Those of you who submit the 12 best hikes get a chance to win free gear and a chance to share your story nationally. Best yet, all of BLM’s great hikes will benefit from the increased attention this contest brings to the best hiking in the west. To enter the contest, go to www.americanhiking.org.

Read more about the National Landscape Conservation System at www.discovernlcs.org.

Happy trails and remember to Leave No Trace!"