Arizona Game and Fish Dept. Seeks Citizen Scientists for American Kestrel Project

The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) is enlisting the help of landowners and citizen scientists to assist biologists as part of the American Kestrel Partnership, a program designed to collect data to be used to conserve this important species for future generations. AZGFD is participating in the partnership, which is coordinated nationally by The Peregrine Fund.

“The goal of this project is to provide nesting habitat and raise awareness for kestrels in Arizona, while contributing to national efforts to assist these falcons,” said Kurt Licence, an AZGFD biologist. “This great citizen science opportunity will help us to collect data to guide management decisions that could impact the stability of kestrel populations. That data will help us to better understand why long-term studies have shown that American kestrel populations have declined 50 percent across their range in the past 40 years.”

For more information about the program, visit www.azgfd.gov/kestrel or e-mail raptors@azgfd.gov.

URGENT! Public Comment Period on Review of National Monuments Extended to July 10

There is still time to submit your comments on the pending review of many of our national monuments, starting with Bears Ears National Monument.

An Executive Order has been issued calling for review of many national monuments to determine whether to redraw boundaries, reduce protections or even rescind designation for our most diverse and inclusive national monuments.

Since the Antiquities Act went into effect in 1906, millions of acres of environmentally, culturally, and historically important lands in the US have been protected for the enjoyment of generations to come. Without the constant vigilance of groups such as the Conservation Lands Foundation, there is a very real possibility that these lands could be removed from protected status.

Please consider acting now to help protect Bears Ears and other national monuments by clicking here to submit a public comment.

If you wish to make a donation to defend our national monuments, you may click here to make a contribution to the Conservation Lands Foundation to help them continue the fight to protect our national lands.

Appeals court rules ADWR must consider SPRNCA water rights

Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) officials did not properly consider the rights of the Bureau of Land Management, namely the federal reserve water right for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) created by an Act of Congress in 1988, when it gave the go-ahead for a 7,000-home development in Sierra Vista, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

See the article on the appellate ruling (by Howard Fisher of Capitol Media Services) published by the Sierra Vista Herald for further information.

BLM invites public input on iconic trees

Mahoney_SPH_cottonwoods_photo

Photo by James Mahoney

The BLM issued a press release announcing the public comment period on its plans to address the iconic cottonwood trees at San Pedro House.  The BLM has proposed pruning the healthy tree that overhangs San Pedro House and removing the huge, aging cottonwood just to the west.  The Friends of the San Pedro River prefer an alternative in which both trees are pruned and the larger, western tree is left fenced to protect the public and allowed to die naturally.

UPDATE: The arborist’s report and his slide presentation on the trees have been added to the BLM eplanning website where the scoping document is still available. This is your opportunity to provide substantive comments. The deadline has been extended to July 29.  BLM asks that these comments be emailed to: blm_az_tfoweb@blm.gov.  The scoping document describes the type of questions that would inform substantive comments.  According to the BLM announcement:

In order for your comment to be substantive you must include rationale for why the extraordinary circumstance is triggered.

Again, read the scoping document for details on how to comment.  Stay tuned to our FSPR Facebook page for updates.

Finally, Tom Wood of the Southeastern Arizona Bird Observatory (and a former President of the Friends of the San Pedro River) has created an on-line petition to save the trees. “Signing” the online petition is one way to express your opinion and feelings about the cottonwoods at the San Pedro House.

Cottonwoods featured on local radio

Cropped photo by James Mahoney.

Cropped photo by James Mahoney.

The Friday Morning Focus Show featured a discussion about the iconic cottonwood trees at San Pedro House.  The show, hosted by Pat Call, invited FSPR President Robert Weissler to discuss BLM’s plans to address these large, aging trees and public reaction and concern over the possible removal of the oldest one.  Hear the hour-long radio program.

Vigneto.. Sustainable Groundwater Use?

VignetoCMP_comments_to_Benson_thumbProposed Vigneto Development Plan Must Address Sustainable Groundwater Use

El Dorado Benson LLC recently submitted the Final Community Master Plan for “The Villages at Vigneto” to Benson officials.  One key area of concern is the prospect of large-scale groundwater withdrawals to supply water to the proposed development. We want to ensure that the developer is committed to measures like enhanced recharge of the aquifer and xeriscape landscaping.  And we want to convince Benson officials that now is not the time to become complacent about our precious water resources.

Read the entire letter to the Benson Planning and Zoning Commission.

Does Villages at Vigneto threaten the San Pedro River?

Does the proposed Villages at Vigneto development planned for Benson pose a threat to the San Pedro River? Is groundwater pumping for the planned 27,000+ homes sustainable? Or is this a repeat of unconstrained development like that of California?

Call on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to re-evaluate impacts of this huge, prospective city-sized development that threatens to adversely impact the San Pedro River, a Global Important Bird Area, migration corridor and biodiversity hot spot.  Learn more in the Arizona Daily Star article.

Deadline approaching for comments on SPRNCA RMP alternatives

Help Ensure Good Stewardship in the SPRNCA RMP

Send Comments to BLM by Wednesday, June 10

The deadline for public comments on the Resource Management Plan alternatives is fast approaching. If you care about good stewardship of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, please take the time to send your comments to the Bureau of Land Management.

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Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Tucson

Wednesday, August 19 at 6:30 p.m.
Advance Tickets can be purchased at the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop!: $8
Day Of: $10

At the Loft Cinema

The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection is proud to once again be hosting The Wild and Scenic Film Festival! This event is a collection of films from the annual festival held each January in Nevada City, CA. Wild & Scenic focuses on films which speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet.

Tucson Audubon will have music, local conservation organizations tabling, and a fabulous raffle with unique items from local sponsors. Join them for this memorable and inspiring event! Visit www.sonorandesert.org for more information.