Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Arizona State Lands proposal brewing

A deal to push a voter initiative for State Land reform is advancing. Some conservation groups and organized educators are getting closer to a first step for possible better conservation of State Lands, which AZ has 9.3 million acres of across the state. State Lands are now sold for development to highest bidder to provide a small percentage of funding to schools, often fueling urban sprawl.

The State Lands initiative, as now proposed, would be modest and perhaps viewed as too weak by some greens. One of the more problematic provisions would allow highway and energy projects on 'conservation' lands. Another argument may be over the small 700,000 acres that would be proposed for 'conservation', out of 9.3M. Some conservation groups will likely push in the upcoming month to add more lands to the proposal, including important areas left out of the draft due to the limited involvement in the process. Many environmentalists may not endorse the proposal, but also may not strongly oppose. Gov. Hull's weak Prop. 100 a few years back was defeated in part due to wide green and public-interest concerns.

One thing is clear, it seems most everyone wants a 'deal'. Something to advance conservation of State Lands. If an initiative is pushed and makes the ballot, many greens and others will see it as a first step, but educators and developers will likely consider it a done deal for at least 20 years.

Lately there is more of an effort by draft deal proponents to talk with other key players, including a meeting in Tucson May 23, and in Phoenix tomorrow. Broad support depends on current conversations and negotiations, but disagreements are arising.

One positive is that the current draft protects the open bidding on grazing leases, and stays away from bad land exchanges. Both of these poison pills were included in earlier drafts.

The Governor is important here, and has indicated she wants to support a State Lands package this year. What she'll settle for will likely have significant influence on the details of the proposed initiative. Proponents want to get a campaign rolling by July 1, so June should be hot for State Lands dealing.

Desert threatened by off-road lobby and Bush Interior Dept. sneak attack; Desert stream conservation in White Mountains

Last month, Dept. of Interior political appointee Julie MacDonald visited the Algodones Dunes with off-roaders only to discuss roll-back of environmental protections. The off-road lobby already tried and failed to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the Peirson's milkvetch, but they keep on trying and the Bush administration DoI/FWS seems eager to please.

MacDonald made no effort to involve conservation groups in her dunes visit, or reportedly even the local BLM office.

Conservation groups are fighting for continued conservation and recovery of the milkvetch and at least 17 other endemic species found only on the Algodones Dunes, and threatened by off-road vehicles. The Algodones Dunes are near Yuma AZ within the California Desert Conservation Area, and are the nation's largest sand dunes.

The off-road lobby is also pushing to remove habitat conservation east of the dunes, and public safety provisions at Comp Hill, scene of much off-road related nighttime violence.

Below is text from a recent off-road lobby newsletter on these issues. Conservation groups have asked US Rep. Filner, and Senators Boxer and Feinstein to show support for dunes conservation.

*

Fwd: What's New In the ASA - May 05

A Message from the ASA

*/Peirson's Milk vetch (PMV) Delisting/*

The ASA hosted a field trip for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Julie MacDonald. During the visit to the dunes ASA Botanical Consultant, Art Phillips briefed MacDonald and her staff on the growth of the PMV this season. The field trip was part of ASA's concerted effort to have the abundant PMV removed from the list of endangered species. The ASA is producing a new DVD to document the growth of the Peirson's milk vetch (PMV) during the past five years and particularly this year. The video footage is complete and the script is currently being edited. The final product will be available by June 1st and will be used during discussions related to the delisting of the PMV.

*/Comp Hill /*

The ASA Board has formally requested that the Imperial County Sheriff's Office and BLM reassess the need for a dusk to dawn curfew at Comp Hill at Glamis.

/*26,000 Acres East of Glamis:*/

Congressman Duncan Hunter has sent a letter to the BLM CA State Director requesting that the approximately 26,000 acres east of the railroad tracks adjacent to Highway 78 and the Boardmanville Road be reopened to camping. This inquiry is the direct result of the March
2005 OHV visit to Washington DC.

*

Los Angeles Times -- May 31 05 -- latimes.com

Outdoors

Divided Road
Preservationists, 4-wheelers tangle with agencies over White Mountains plan.

Daniel Patterson, an ecologist for the Center for Biological Diversity, says it's inappropriate to run a road through a wetland. The debate over
Furnace Creek Road, he says, has become "a line in the sand because the White Mountains are a spectacular place, one of the wildest places left in California. It's an outstanding place and people who live in Inyo and Mono counties know this."

Monday, May 30, 2005

War dead RIP; Keep the sunshine

Rest in peace to the millions of war dead of the past and present. We all still suffer because of war. Remember all war dead, both soldiers and civilians across the world. Remember war killed environments worldwide.

Remember it is important to do more to stop it. Driving and consuming less is a good way to start. Oil and natural resources are often at the heart of true war motives.

When will we stop the killing? Killing for big dollars and resources. Killing for revenge. Killing as a national diversion away from big corporate and government attacks on quality of life at home. Killing pushed by the self-proclaimed 'pro-life' crowd.

Bush really should be impeached, pay back the $300B+ wasted in Iraq, then go to jail or be banned to Crawford TX 'ranch' for his crimes.

The 06 congressional elections are very important. Boot GOP zealots, boot spineless Dems, and Arizonans, boot Jon Kyl.

How many solid, well-organized Independents, Greens, etc. will step up to run, and win? Perhaps I will?

My 2 year old sings, "Please don't take my sunshine away". We must take back hope, and push positive ideas. Let's restore the clear sunshine, clean rain, and fresh world for future generations.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Saving energy and fighting the urban heat island

Coating the roof and painting the house this weekend with special reflective materials. Keeps the place cooler, and helps our older adobe house resist the harsh desert elements and sun.

Speaking of urban heat island, why is the new I-10/I-19 interchange area in Tucson so barren? No trees or landscaping at all. This concrete jungle design is a heat factory, and very ugly. US FHWA, ADOT, City of Tucson, etc. need to step up and plant some natives, or is that not in the budget for this NAFTA freeway project?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Deadly desert borderlands; Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra in Tucson

I'm on, so check this blog for social and political perspectives from Tucson.

See me in April 15, 2005 Wall Street Journal, p.A1.

Too many Mexicans dying trying to cross the desert as a result of immoral, unethical Bush border policy that pushes them in to remote areas.

Border Patrol is tearing up the desert environment chasing these poor people to their deaths -- official count is 13 dead in the last 5 days, reality is sadly many more.

Antibalas jammed at Solar Culture last night: hot, sweaty, high powered (but not quite as much as their previous Tucson show). www.antibalas.com