Posts Tagged ‘Ironwood Forest National Monument’

The latest on I-11: Lawsuit sees its first day in court

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On Wednesday, January 25, 2023, U.S. District Judge John C. Hinderaker heard arguments on the federal government’s motion to dismiss a portion of our challenge to Interstate 11 filed in April 2022 in collaboration with the Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Audubon Society, and Friends of Ironwood Forest. Big thanks to the 30 Coalition supporters that showed up to support us at the hearing.

According to a press release about the hearing, “The lawsuit says the agency failed to consider other transportation alternatives, such as rail, and sidestepped the required environmental review before approving the 280-mile-long highway between Nogales and Wickenburg. The planned interstate’s west option would plow through desert wildlands in rural Avra Valley and between Saguaro National Park and Ironwood National Monument. It would disturb hundreds of archaeological and cultural sites and spread invasive buffelgrass known to fuel wildfires.” 

You can learn more at at a KVOA4 story that aired after the hearing and a KGUN 9 story that aired before the hearing. We will update you when we learn more about a timeline for Judge Hinderaker’s decision on the case.

Whatever his decision, we remain grateful for your support as we continue advocating against the West Option for Interstate 11 and for a connected and restored Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona for all. 

Want to learn about the history of Interstate 11 and ways to get involved today? Head over to our comprehensive set of webpages (also found at the top of this page under the “Our Work” tab), including a history of the planning process, a thorough list of media articles,  maps, and more. 

CSDP and partners sue over federal approval of Interstate 11

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On April 21, 2022, four conservation groups – the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, along with our member groups Center for Biological Diversity, Tucson Audubon Society, and Friends of Ironwood Forest – filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Tucson challenging the Federal Highway Administration’s approval of Interstate 11 last year.

The agency approved the highway in November 2021 despite postponing an environmental review or deciding between two route options in Pima County, both of which would harm wildlife, public lands, and air quality and exacerbate the climate emergency. The lawsuit says this “approve now, study later” approach violated federal law.

The Coalition’s Executive Director, Carolyn Campbell, said in a press release about the lawsuit, “This is an egregious assault on 100 years of efforts by local, state and federal land agencies to protect important desert lands forever, for species to survive and move through the landscape. There is overwhelming opposition by residents, tribal entities, public agencies and elected officials here in the Tucson area and we won’t stop until we’ve blocked this destructive and unneeded freeway that will harm our wildlands and wildlife.

To learn more, you can read a press release and an AZ Daily Star article about the lawsuit. You can also find comprehensive background information on Interstate 11 at this webpage, which includes a main page with the latest information and extensive sub-pages that chronicle our years-long campaign opposing this project. 

Thank you for using your voice to oppose the West Option for Interstate 11! 

Join us in removing old fencing and improving wildlife connectivity in Avra Valley!

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Join us this week to remove old fencing and improve wildlife connectivity between the Tucson Mountains and the Tohono O’odham Nation!

Background

This past December, over 65 volunteers came together one morning to remove three miles of old fencing, including three tons of fence posts and wire fencing, from an area in Avra Valley west of the Tucson Mountains. Removing this fencing is important to improve the critical wildlife linkage areas between Tucson Mountain Park, Saguaro National Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument, and the Tohono O’odham Nation.  And now this collaborative project is moving forward with another opportunity to pitch in and remove even more fencing!

The details

When: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – March 10, 11, and 12

Time: 8am-12pm, 12pm lunch (will be provided), Afternoon flexible

Where: Avra Valley area near Three Points (more detailed instructions on exactly where to meet will be sent out to volunteers after they sign up)

What to bring: Water bottle, work gloves, sturdy shoes, sun hat, etc. (again, more details to follow)

How to sign up: Head over to this GoogleForm to sign up

According to Don Swann, a biologist at Saguaro National Park, “Many studies have shown that barbed wire fences can stop large animals, change their movement patterns, and keep them away from water and food sources they need to survive. Animals can also be killed trying to jump over a barbed wire fence if they become entangled and are not able to free themselves.” 

You can sign up for one, two, or all three days! All you need to do is sign up through our online form.

To see a slideshow and learn more about the December 2021 event and what’s in store for the March 2022 event, head over to this recent blog post on our website

Questions? Feel free to reach out to CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell at Carolyn.Campbell@sonorandesert.org or leave a voicemail at (520) 388-9925 and we’ll get back with you ASAP. 

Avra Valley Fence Removal Volunteer Day a Big Success!

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On December 11, 2021, a group of local organizations and state/federal agencies came together to celebrate National Public Lands Day by holding a Fence Removal Volunteer Day in Avra Valley. It was a wonderfully cool day with volunteers in high spirits to accomplish something tangible and positive for wildlife. 

A few fun stats from this great event:

  • Over 65 volunteers, a group from the American Conservation Experience (ACE) program, and staff from Arizona Game and Fish Department and the National Park Service joined together for the project. 
  • 3 miles of fence were removed from the landscape in one morning.
  • 3 tons of metal, including fence posts and wire fencing, were hauled away.

This is a fantastic start to improving the permeability of the landscape for wildlife movement between the Tucson Mountains, Ironwood Forest National Monument, Pima County open space lands, and more. And a big thanks to the Coalition volunteers that came out and volunteered their time – we are so thankful for you. 

This is the first of a few Fence Removal Volunteer Days – we plan to hold one to two more this winter and spring so keep your eye out for more details. We’d love to have you join in on the next event! 

Thank you to all the organizations that helped make this event possible, including Friends of Ironwood Forest, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Saguaro National Park/National Park Service, Arizona Game and Fish Department, American Conservation Experience, Pima County, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Mule Deer Foundation. 

Photos below are courtesy Carolyn Campbell and Lee Pagni. 

New report on I-11 calls it a “white elephant” and “unnecessary”

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On August 8, 2019, the Center for American Progress released a new report on the proposed Interstate 11 as part of its “White Elephant Watch” series, which “profiles projects that demonstrates the failures of the current U.S. policy approach to transportation infrastructure.” 

This report provides a detailed analysis of this proposed project, including a point-by-point analysis of the Purpose and Need section of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The report concludes the following:

“ADOT’s proposed I-11 corridor has four major flaws:

  • Fails to increase transportation choice or reduce local single-occupant vehicle trips made within the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas
  • Promotes low-density land use and dependence on automobility
  • Produces significant environmental harms
  • Is based on flawed travel demand models that do not adequately account for induced demand”

The report can be found online and as a pdf document. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to read this timely and well-written report! 

Learn more about the history of CSDP on this new podcast episode!

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On May 12, 2019, CSDP Executive Director Carolyn Campbell was interviewed by Amanda Shauger for the “30 minutes” program on local community radio station KXCI 91.3 FM. Over the half-hour show, Carolyn and Amanda discuss the history of the Coalition, the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and what we’re working on these days. Topics covered include how and why the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan came to be, protecting Sonoran Desert wildlife linkages, our fight against the Rosemont Mine and Interstate 11, our Critter Cam program, and more! 

The full show can be listened to at:

https://kxci.org/podcast/coalition-for-sonoran-desert-protection/

Thanks for all your support over the last 21 years! 

Stand up for Avra Valley!

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One of the Coalition’s supporters, Rick Brown, wrote this beautiful and powerful poem in defense of Avra Valley. Take a moment to sit with Rick’s commanding words about what we stand to lose if Interstate 11 is built at the doorstep to Saguaro National Park and other irreplaceable public lands. Thank you, Rick, for YOUR voice on behalf of the wildlife and wild places of the Sonoran Desert. 
 
Stand Up for Avra Valley! 
 
Midst a scenic desert valley
a freeway is planned to flow 
more useless sprawl and chaos
whose outcome we all know
 
This Sonoran panorama
is a treat for jaded eyes
seducing all who view her
‘neath those brilliant blue skies
 
A first trip to this landscape
will cause your heart to flutter
with glimpses of Arizona
before it fills with clutter 
 
A treasured realm of nature
spreads forth in grand repose
dotted with tall Saguaro
in their striking graceful pose 
 
Vistas that stir our conscience
abound from this great place
Tucson Mountain to Ironwood
are gifts you can NOT replace
 
Sacred and spiritual 
historic and sublime
Avra’s cultural essence
is the ideal paradigm
 
But greed, wealth, and pressure
fueled by backroom politics
keep Avra on the radar
with puzzling little tricks
 
It’s just another freeway
more miles of stark concrete 
What could possibly happen
when the Interstate’s complete?
 
Bulldozers by the hundreds 
would scour this mighty plain
by tearing it asunder
in a militant campaign
 

Noise, glare, and vibration 
would be the new calling card

gone are her days of wonder
left tattered, torn, and scarred
 
Thousands of tiny boxes
will rise from scattered seeds 
strewn across this basin
like machine-built tumbleweeds
 
Gridlock and more congestion
will become regular routine
Drivers could not imagine
this place was once serene
 
Destroying creation’s realm
when alternatives exist
is heinous to the utmost
and why we must resist
 
Foundations are in place
without building yet anew
along present corridors
much less-costly to pursue
 
Floodplain and water sources
occupy this narrow route
Why build amid these features
posing danger, risk, and doubt?
 
Our duty is to save her
from harbingers of doom
By protecting this fine Eden
she’ll forever stay abloom
 
Stand up for Avra Valley
let voices be overheard
It’s time to show the powerful
the passion of our words!
 
by R. Fleet Brown – 2018
 
 

Opposition to any proposed interstate in Avra Valley grows

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The recently convened I-11 Joint Stakeholder Community Planning Group has released a press release and position statement opposing any proposed route for Interstate 11 in Avra Valley. The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection is a proud leader of this new community stakeholder group. The full press release is below:

Citizens Convened by Federal and State Highway Departments Strongly Oppose Highway in Avra Valley

Stakeholders find Common Ground in Downtown Route to Create a Sustainable City

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA) recently convened representatives of several stakeholder organizations in a process to explore two alternative routes for the proposed Interstate 11 through Pima County. Stakeholders have developed a consensus position that re-designing I-10 and I-19 to accommodate co-location with I-11 could have a positive effect on downtown revitalization, while stating strong opposition to an “I-10 bypass” in Avra Valley. See letter here. “A freeway that borders Tucson Mountain Park, Tohono O’odham tribal lands, Saguaro National Park, and Ironwood Forest National Monument makes absolutely zero sense,” stated Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. “The direct and cumulative effects of a freeway to these natural and cultural iconic places of the Sonoran Desert simply cannot be mitigated. This route should not be under consideration.”

Stakeholders believe that there are shortcomings associated with the federal review process that focuses on new highway construction.  However, “we believe that there could be a significant opportunity to address some of the historic negative consequences that resulted from the construction of I-10,” said Gene Einfrank, Menlo Park Neighborhood Association President. “The building of I-10 physically divided our community and diminished the quality of life of our downtown and other neighborhoods along the highway. Instead of simply adding new lanes to our existing highway, we should consider redesigning portions of it—either going underground or suspended—so that we can reconnect our city.” 

Moreover, stakeholders encourage a broader look at future transportation options, focusing on changes to the management of the existing highway to reduce congestion, including pricing, scheduling, and other programs; technologies that improve traffic flows; and enhancements to the rail system, including light rail and intermodal transportation.

The group recommends ADOT and FHwA refer to the I-11 Super Corridor study final document, which was submitted to ADOT in 2016, to draw inspiration on a comprehensive design. The Sustainable Cities Lab, hosted at the UA College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, completed this transdisciplinary study on the I-11 corridor along with Arizona State University and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. UA’s study area focused on opportunities from Marana to south of downtown Tucson. Their outcomes incorporate the addition of light and heavy rail, walking, cycling, new technology for controlling traffic as well as incorporating alternative forms of energy production and transportation.

Have a Beer for a Bighorn on November 18th!

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The Coalition, Friends of Ironwood Forest, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society are hosting a fun event on November 18, 2017 to support Ironwood Forest National Monument. Will you join us in having a beer for a bighorn? 

What: Have a Beer for a Bighorn Event

When: November 18, 2017, 3-7pm

Where: Dragoon Brewing Company, 1859 W. Grant Rd., #111

Details: There will be information available about Ironwood Forest National Monument, food trucks, brewery tours, snacks, and a slide show!

A pdf flyer about the event can be downloaded here. Please share with your friends and other community members who care about the Ironwood Forest National Monument! 

We hope to see you there!

 

Speak out in support of the Antiquities Act and our National Monuments!

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The Antiquities Act and our National Monuments are under assault in Congress and we need your help!

Ragged Top in the Ironwood Forest National Monument would not be protected without the Antiquities Act. Speak up today to support our public lands!

Earlier this month, Utah Representative Rob Bishop introduced HR 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” and it passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee on October 11, 2017 (23 in support, 17 against).

This bill would GUT the Antiquities Act. According to the Sierra Club, the four main takeaways of the bill are:

1. It changes the definition of what qualifies as deserving of protection. Artifacts and buildings are in, items of scientific importance and natural objects are definitely out.
2. It places restrictions on the size of monuments. Anything over 85,000 acres definitely can’t be a monument. National monuments between 10,000 and 85,000 acres require approval from state legislatures and governors, which has been known to take decades.
3. It includes language that explicitly permits the president to rescind a national monument, totally undercutting the Administration and Bishop’s arguments that the Antiquities Act as currently written already allows the president to get rid of a monument.
4. It completely prohibits the creation of marine monuments under the Antiquities Act.

Will you contact your Representative and express your opposition to HR3990?

Please let your representative know why you support our national monuments, those that are protected today and potential ones in the future.

For an excellent editorial by Coalition supporter and Friends of Ironwood Forest Board Member Bill Thornton about why we need to protect the Antiquities Act, head here

We don’t know yet when HR 3990 will be debated and voted on in the House of Representatives so check back for an update – we’ll post one here when we know more.

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