Monday, November 13, 2006

New effort to restore desert bighorn to Catalinas

TUCSON -- There is a new effort starting up to restore desert bighorn sheep to the Santa Catalina Range (aka Mt. Lemmon) on the north side of the city.

Bighorn were stressed out of the Catalinas in the 90s, but there are still reports a few still linger.

Currently the only remaining viable desert bighorn herd near Tucson is in the Silverbell Mtns. within the BLM Ironwood Forest National Monument.

The habitat is there, most protected as wilderness in the Coronado National Forest, but some of it may need to be burned to improve forage. This could be carefully done to avoid harm to homes, which have encroached on the south and west side of the Catalinas.

Recreational management, including seasonal hiking and dog restrictions on Pusch Ridge, may be essential to return this desert icon to Tucson/Oro Valley/Catalina. Hikers should support this as there are many other great places to hike in the Catalinas and around Tucson.

Key interested parties are starting to consider and plan.

Let's bring back the desert bighorn to Tucson.

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