BLM Plans Safety and Access Improvements at San Pedro House

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. – The Bureau of Land Management’s Tucson Field Office will construct a permanent fence near the San Pedro House located in the BLM-administered San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area near Sierra Vista along Highway 90. The work will occur where a temporary fence was previously installed to protect the visiting public from falling branch hazards from a large Cottonwood tree. Some of the trails in the nearby Demonstration Garden will be surfaced with crushed stone to improve accessibility. The work is planned from Jan. 11 ― Feb. 11.

“The work is necessary to ensure that the public continues to safely visit the San Pedro House and enjoys improved access to the popular area,” said Tucson Field Manager Jayme Lopez.

During the work, the area around the fence, including the Demonstration Garden, will be temporarily unavailable to protect public safety. Temporary fencing will remain, and signs will be posted notifying the public of the work and associated hazards. Access to the popular San Pedro Trail will remain available during construction.

For further information contact the Field Manager, 3201 E. Universal Way, Tucson, Arizona 85756-5021; (520) 258-7200, or Email: blm_az_tfoweb@blm.gov.

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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.