List of volunteer services for VSA form

New! In order to complete the revised BLM Volunteer Service Agreement form (also available in hardcopy) for fiscal year 2019 starting October 1, 2018, volunteers should check each of the boxes listing the services they plan to provide during the course of the year.  The volunteer roles associated with those services are described in the pages below:

Join Tucson Audubon on the San Pedro

Join Tucson Audubon Society for two events in September:

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FSPR position on draft RMP

The BLM has released a draft Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA). This plan will govern how the SPRNCA will be managed for the next few decades. The Friends has completed a first review of the document and will provide comments to the BLM during meetings and in writing. We would like to share with you our reaction and concerns.

But first, how to find the draft documents…
The draft RMP is available for the public to review and provide comments on the BLM ePlanning website at https://go.usa.gov/xnTuM.  Get involved!  Your opinion counts. Your voice is needed to counter those with influence who are working behind the scenes to undo the work of the last 30 years.

Public meetings on the draft plan are scheduled for:

  • July 30, 5:30-7 p.m., Sierra Vista Police Department, 911 N. Coronado Drive, Sierra Vista, Arizona (Meeting attendees should use the lobby entrance to access the room)
  • Aug. 8, 5:30-7 p.m., Benson Fire Department Station 71, 375 E. 7th Street, Benson, Arizona
  • Aug. 22, 5:30-7 p.m., Sierra Vista Police Department, 911 N. Coronado Drive, Sierra Vista, Arizona  (Meeting attendees should use the lobby entrance to access the room)
  • Aug. 23, 5:30-7 p.m., Pima Community College, 401 N. Bonita Ave., Tucson, Arizona

Public input will shape the final plan, and we encourage you to attend one of the public meetings to learn more about the draft RMP and voice your opinions and suggestions.

Overall assessment. The BLM has been working on this document for several years. We commend them for the completion of this draft and look forward to working towards issuance of a final plan that continues current protection of this precious national resource.  However, we do have significant concerns as discussed below.
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Join the Great Backyard Bird Count!

Great Backyard Bird Count from February 16 to 19

The Great Backyard Bird Count runs from February 16 to 19

Join a Global Bird Count for The Year of the Bird 
The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place worldwide, February 16 to 19

For Release: February 7, 2018
New York, NY, Ithaca, NY, and Port Rowan, ON—The 21st Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) will take place February 16 to 19—in backyards, parks, nature centers, on hiking trails, school grounds, balconies, and beaches. This global event provides an opportunity for bird enthusiasts to contribute important bird population data that help scientists see changes over the past 21 years. To participate, bird watchers count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at birdcount.org.

BLM Announces Re-opening of San Pedro House

Pruning of Plaza and Bailey, the two Fremont Cottonwoods at San Pedro House, has been completed and the house and the surrounding area are once again open to the public.  All walks and other activities planned for the area will resume today, November 5.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as BLM and the contractor hired to complete this project have worked to ensure the safety of the public as well as prolong the lives of these two magnificent trees.
 

Come out to San Pedro House soon to see Plaza and Bailey with their new “haircuts” for yourselves!

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BLM Announces Temporary Closure of San Pedro House and Surrounding Area

The Bureau of Land Management has notified us that pruning of the two large cottonwood trees near San Pedro House will begin Monday, October 16, and will require that San Pedro House and the surrounding area be closed to the public for up to three weeks.

Saturday River Walks scheduled for October 21 and 28 have been cancelled. The Bird Walks scheduled for October 28 and November 1 have also been canceled.

Please consider visiting some of the other recreation areas in the SPRNCA during this period, such as Millville, Fairbank, and Murray Springs.

History walks scheduled October 21 at Presidio Santa Cruz de Terrenate and October 28 at Grand Central Mill will not be affected by this closure. We hope to see you there!

Call to Action – Act now to help the Conservation Lands Foundation protect the Bears Ears National Monument

The Trump Administration has issued an Executive Order calling for “review” of national monuments – starting with Bears Ears National Monument – to determine whether or 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.

Locally, the Conservation Lands Foundation has provided direct support to the Friends of the San Pedro River by funding the Executive Director position for two years and development of our strategic plan.  This is a chance to reward their support of us by helping to protect our National Conservation Lands including the Bears Ears!

Please consider acting now to help protect Bears Ears by clicking here to submit a public comment.  The comment period is only open until May 26, so please act quickly.

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.

Donate to AZGF to help Sandhill Cranes this winter!

We have learned that the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area is without sufficient funds to pump enough water to provide protection for the Sandhill Cranes that call WWD home for the winter.  Many of our members will be concerned about Whitewater Draw and the Sandhill Cranes, so we are forwarding this request for donations.  The Tucson office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department has created a special account to help mitigate this problem.  This is a first for the AZGF and illustrates how dire the situation is.  
 
If you can help with a donation, just access the donation form, print it out, complete and sign the form, and mail it with your check.  Please mark only the first box, Whitewater Draw Groundwater Pumping and Habitat Maintenance, to be sure your donation goes directly to the groundwater pumping effort.  When you send in your checks make sure you note on the envelope and on the check:   ATTENTION, CINDY PEREZ. 
 
A donation of $100 automatically enters you into a drawing for a two night stay at Battiste Bed, Breakfast, and Birds, good through 2017, based on availability.  A donation for every multiple of $100 will give you more chances to win.  For example, a $500 donation equals five chances!!!
 
Thanks to our good friends Tony and Julie Battiste for alerting us to this situation and for their generous offer of a chance to stay at their beautiful bed and breakfast.
 
And in other news…..
 
SAVE THE DATE: We understand that the Bureau of Land Management might hold a public scoping meeting on January 10, 2017 about the Environmental Assessment for the cottonwoods at San Pedro House. We’ll provide more details when we have them.

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.