\ SOUTHWEST BIODIVERSITY ALERT #146 /
\ 8-12-98 /
\ SOUTHWEST CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY /
1. AZ DAILY STAR: DON YOUNG SHOULD END ENVIRONMENTAL WITCH HUNT
2. UPDATE ON 2ND MEXICAN GREY WOLF DEATH
3. PARENTS GROUPS TELLS SCHOOL DISTRICT TO LEAVE PYGMY OWL ALONE,
TUCSON CITIZEN AGREES
4. COMMENTS NEEDED ON N.A.F.T.A. REPORT TO SAVE THE SAN PEDRO RIVER-
PLEASE WRITE TODAY!
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AZ DAILY STAR: DON YOUNG SHOULD END ENVIRONMENTAL WITCH HUNT
The following editorial appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on
Representative Young's Witch Hunt
Environmentalists are right that Rep. Don Young's demand to know what
Southwest region U.S. Forest Service employees ``are members of'' or
``have any contact with'' Arizona environmental groups smacks of Sen.
Joseph McCarthy's 1950s-era search for Communists.
They are right that Young's tribunal intrudes on the privacy of
federal employees and could chill legitimate personal and
And they are right, too, to demand the Forest Service refuse to
cooperate with this rogue misuse of Congress' legitimate oversight
And yet, none of that is what is most offensive, and revealing,
about Young's bizarre behavior. Instead, what is most disconcerting
about Young's latest meddling with efforts to enforce the nation's
environmental laws is its scary insinuation of the illegitimacy of
environmental rules and environmental activists.
At its root, the Alaska Republican's demand for names in a July 28
letter to Eleanor Towns, the Southwest regional U.S. forest chief,
amounts to one more tactic in another rancher-friendly attempt to
undermine a policy unpopular among cattle growers. In this case, the
unpopular policy is the Forest Service's April agreement to remove
cattle from sensitive stream-side habitat in 11 Arizona and New Mexico
That responsible agreement - made in consultation with
environmentalist-plaintiffs - was made to settle a lawsuit over poor
stewardship that had been brought against the service by the Tucson-
based Southwest Center for Biological Diversity and another group. By
settling the suit - the likes of which the Forest Service had lost
again and again -the agency merely decided to follow relevant
environmental laws and so avoid a much broader court-ordered shutdown.
In view of that, Young's inquest - though his House Resources Committee
does possess a supervisory role over the Forest Service - represents
one more disturbing, but by now routine, incident of congressional
disrespect for environmental laws and their enforcers. In a word,
Young finds worthy of a hostile investigation the fact that a federal
agency moved to follow the law.
That he insinuates illegality or ``conflicts of interest'' in agency
workers' contacts with the Southwest Center and the Forest Guardians,
moreover, only telegraphs the mischievousness of his position. In every
legal settlement intensive, detailed discussions go on between the
plaintiffs and the settling party. In every bureaucracy bureaucrats
legally maintain personal associations and ties, whether with the
National Rifle Association or The Nature Conservancy.
But the law is the law - it will withstand the likes of Don Young.
More sensitive, by contrast, are the region's touchy social relations
between ``traditional'' rural folks and urban environmentalists - and
it is here that Young's silly charade of ``oversight'' does real harm.
With its tone and locutions, Young's letter panders to rural
suspicions of environmental activists. With his sleuthing Young implies
that there is something legally improper about environmental
organizations and those millions of people that belong to them.
This is deplorable. Such insinuations bring nothing constructive to
legitimate, complicated debates over how best to manage the West's
public lands. Such posturing only divides the region even more.
Rep. Young should lay off. And if he does not, the Forest Service
should rebuff his inquiries.
UPDATE ON 2ND MEXICAN GREY WOLF DEATH
The wolf found dead on Friday, 8-7-98, was apparently killed by a
mountain lion. It may have been jumped while feeding on a lion-killed
elk a few miles outside Alpine, AZ. It was the mother of the only
wolf pup born in the wild in the Gila Headwaters Ecosystem in 50
years- not the father as reported earlier.
PARENTS GROUPS TELLS SCHOOL DISTRICT TO LEAVE PYGMY OWL ALONE,
TUCSON CITIZEN AGREES
A group of Amphitheater School District parents, tired of seeing the
district's image tarnished by its attempts to build a school upon
the habitat of the endangerd pygmy owl, have asked the district to
move to a new site. In fact, they have offered a new site away from
pygmy owl habitat, arguing that it will be cheaper and more ethical
to give up the legal battle. Construction of the school has been
barred by the 9th circuit court of appeal until it hears the case
brought by Defenders of Wildlife and the Southwest Center.
In a recent editiorial, the Tucson Citizen agreed with the parents,
calling members of the school board mule-headed for continuing the
legal battle and trying to drive off the pygmy owl.
COMMENTS NEEDED ON N.A.F.T.A. REPORT TO SAVE THE SAN PEDRO RIVER-
PLEASE WRITE TODAY!
1) NEWS BRIEF
2) POINTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR COMMENTS
3) BACKGROUND: "The San Pedro River to be NAFTA Test Case"
1) NEWS BRIEF
On 6-15-98, NAFTA's Commission for Environmental Cooperation released
a public review draft of its long awaited scientific assessment of
water depletion in the upper San Pedro River. Entitled "Sustaining and
Enhancing Riparian Migratory Bird Habitat on the Upper San Pedro
River," the report concludes that the river will dry up, destroying
the nation's first Riparian National Conservation area if serious
efforts are not taken to curtail urban sprawl, superfluous
agriculture, and excessive water pumping.
This is the first time the NAFTA panel has reviewed an environmental
problem in the United States. It did so in response to a petition
under Article 13 by the Southwest Center represented by EarthLaw.
Public comments on the draft are being accepted until August 14, 1998.
YOUR COMMENTS ARE NEEDED! The CEC is only soliciting comments from
within the river basin itself, which is dominated by developers and
the military, thereby attempting to stack the weight of comments
against major policy reforms. You can read the report and submit
comments from the Southwest Center's web page
2) POINTS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR COMMENTS:
After a sound scientific study of water problem on the San Pedro the
draft report, "Sustaining and Enhancing the Riparian Migratory Bird
Habitat on the Upper San Pedro River" goes on to make some rather
unsound recommendations. While we encourage everyone to read the draft
report and come up with their own comments we also have identified
what we think are the most important points regarding the CEC report.
Please include the following in your comments:
€ BALANCE THE WATER BUDGET! Uncontrolled growth is sucking all the
water. Fort Huachuca is a main source of uncontrolled growth in Sierra
Vista it must balance the water budget. If the Fort can't operate
without a water deficit, it must be closed.
€ CREATE AN "ACTIVE MANAGEMENT AREA" in the San Pedro basin. Sierra
Vista is one of the only metro areas in Arizona that doesn't have an
AMA. Most AMAs state that you can not drill a well or build a
development unless you can demonstrate you have an 'assured water
supply' that will not negatively effect the aquifer. Until an AMA is
established there will be no way to keep developers from pushing
€ DON'T MOVE THE CONSERVATION AREA TO ALLOW THE RIVER TO DIE. One
suggestion is to "shift" the riparian conservation area southward,
away from the portion of river most immediately threatened by over
pumping. This is supposed to allow the continued destruction of the
river, while "saving" the conservation area. Such thinking is
narrow-minded in the extreme. A better solution is to expand to SPRNCA
to include more of the river, including the area that crosses the
international boundary. This will provide an incentive to control
water depletion in the entire upper river basin and provide better,
more secure wildlife habitat and open space.
€ NO IMPORTED WATER! Importing water from the Tombstone pipeline, the
Douglas Basin, or CAP is a temporary "solution" that will only cause
water problems in other areas and fuel unsustainable growth.
€ RETIRE AGRICULTURE WITHIN THE BASIN. The Bureau of Land Management
and the Nature Conservancy have already retired some agricultural
lands, it's time to retire the rest.
(feel free to reproduce this article - please notify us if you do -
The San Pedro River to be NAFTA Test Case
by Al Anderson, Huachuca Audubon Society, and Naomi Mudge, Southwest
Center for Biological Diversity
The San Pedro River is a 140-mile-long green "ribbon of life" running
through a semi-arid desert. Host to mesquite bosque and the
Southwest's largest remaining stand of cottonwood/willow
riparian-forest, this river is a virtual highway for animals. This
wildlife corridor supports more than 400 bird species, 100 butterfly
species, 83 mammal species and 47 amphibian and reptile species,
including the second highest land-mammal diversity in the world,
second only to the montane forests of Costa Rica. It is the principal
recovery area for many endangered species including the jaguar,
Southwestern willow flycatcher, as well as endangered native fish and
plants. Riparian areas (where water is near or at the surface) are
virtual oases of life in the desert and more than one-half of all bird
species found in the United States frequent the San Pedro River. With
headwaters in Cananea, Mexico, the San Pedro has international
Because of the biological importance of the San Pedro, in particular
its importance to migratory birds, the U.S. Congress created the San
Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area in 1988. Since then it has
been named as the first "Globally Important Bird Area" in North
America (American Bird Conservancy).
The San Pedro River receives much of its water from the Sierra Vista
sub-watershed regional aquifer. Sierra Vista, a growing southwestern
city, also uses this aquifer as does nearby Fort Huachuca. The area's
inhabitants ground pump water before it reaches the river. Decreased
flows of the San Pedro have led to an increase in dry sections of the
stream bed. Hydrologists predict dire consequences for the river's
survival if the trend continues; the base-flows have decreased 75% in
the last 50 years. Growth from the U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca remains
the greatest short-term threat to the river. Uncontrolled growth
remains the greatest long-term threat.
Because both the San Pedro and the wildlife that depend on it cross
the U.S./Mexico border, threats to the river have international
implications. The Montreal-based Commission for Environmental
Cooperation (CEC) has been established as part of an environmental
side-accord to the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA). For the
first time the CEC has examined an environmental issue originating in
the U.S., the threat to the San Pedro. Their draft report, titled:
"Sustaining and Enhancing Riparian Migratory Bird Habitat on the Upper
San Pedro River," was released June 15 and they are now in the process
of collecting public comment on the report. Ultimately the report is
intended to promote cooperative efforts to recognize and protect
habitats of special continental importance; to catalyze and call
attention to existing efforts to protect such resources and to educate
a broader public of North Americans about the importance of the
sustainable management of valued trans-boundary resources.
Comments on the San Pedro report will be taken until August 15. Please
write in and tell them why the river is important. To read and comment
on the report you can visit the Southwest Center for Biological
Diversity page at:
or you can write to Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy,
University of Arizona, 803/811 E. First Street, Tucson, AZ 85719,
(520)621-7189 fax: (520) 621-9234, email email@example.com
Kieran Suckling firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director 520.623.5252 phone
Southwest Center for Biological Diversity 520.623.9797 fax
http://www.sw-center.org pob 710, tucson, az 85702-710