Wednesday, October 31, 2007
SILVER CITY NM -- The Bush/Cheney US Fish and Wildlife (dis)Service is unethically targeting an important pair of endangered Mexican grey wolves for removal from the wilds of the Gila National Forest.
Wolves should be largely left alone, but instead are being badly micro-managed and persecuted, which is stopping recovery and keeping the wolves highly endangered. The southwestern wolf recovery program is being poorly run and needs a major shakeup.
The main problem has always been, and remains, poor animal husbandry by ranchers who don't take care of their livestock.
Plus, when ranchers run livestock on America's public lands, they must be willing to take the chance with wolves. Either co-exist with the wolves, or keep your livestock on private land.
Let the wolves be wild. Stop big government meddling in our southwestern web-of-life.
TUCSON -- Here are my recommendations on who to vote for in the city election.
City Council: Regina Romero, Rodney Glassman and Shirley Scott (all D).
Mayor: Dave Crouteau (G).
I encourage both Beryl Baker (G) and Dan Spahr (R) to stay involved in local politics. They both have good ideas, but are not ready for the council yet.
Bob Walkup (R) is a nice guy, but after 8 years Tucson would benefit from some new ideas in the Mayor's office.
Be sure to vote Nov 6, or fill out and return your vote-by-mail ballot by Friday.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY CA -- AS HE DOES EVERY WORKING DAY, Antonio Villarreal climbs into his rig, a .40-caliber handgun loaded and holstered on his hip. His 12-gauge shotgun and .223 assault rifle are upright in their racks. He checks the rearview mirror with weary cop's eyes and sets out on his beat.
Villarreal is a supervising ranger with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, responsible for the 3,600-acre Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, a revered pilgrimage site for what Dirt Sports magazine calls the "Off-Road Nation."
Villarreal's route takes him just above the high-tide line on this central California beach, past a scene out of Mad Max. Hundreds of battered dirt bikes, steel-pipe "rails"—little but frames, engines, and tires—painted in metal-flake crimson and chartreuse, four-wheel-drive pickups sporting skull and flame motifs, squat "quad" all-terrain vehicles, and others that look like mutant golf carts swarm the surrounding sands, spinning doughnuts near appreciative and pneumatic young women in Day-Glo bikinis, careening wildly during competitive sprints along straightaways, and leaping from the dune summits.
Two youths, skin covered with tattoos and acne, flag Villarreal down. Their four-wheel-drive truck has foundered in the sand and is threatened by the incoming tide. Their efforts to free the vehicle have only sunk it deeper, past the hubs.
"Dude, did you come to give us a tow?" asks one. Though no open containers of alcohol are evident, his eyes are glazed, and a fetor of fermented malt surrounds him like a nimbus.
The ranger regards the kid with flat eyes. "No," he says and hands him a card from a local towing company.
"We can't start offering tows," Villarreal says as he drives away. "If we did, that's all we'd be doing. Getting stuck is business as usual out here. Every year people lose their rigs to the ocean."
Along the beach, disappearing into the mist, is what looks like a vast, postapocalyptic settlement of campers and behemoth recreational vehicles, most towing trailers loaded with everything from gigantic propane barbecues to wading pools.
"On a typical summer weekend, we'll average 20,000 to 30,000 people on the beach," says Villarreal. "On a holiday weekend, we'll hit 60,000 or 70,000."
Birds wheel in the sky: gulls, brown pelicans, cormorants, and occasional flights of sanderlings and willets. Some appear to vocalize, but you can't hear them over the roar of red-lining engines, loud enough to set tooth fillings pinging.
"It's like any other small city," says Villarreal. "We average between one and three arrests daily. There are DUIs, assaults, rapes." He pauses. "And a lot of accidents."
Prodded, Villarreal essays a few terse recollections of crushed limbs, geysers of bright red blood from severed brachial arteries, and bawling children. People who died quietly or loudly. Incidents—many incidents—ending in paraplegia or quadriplegia.
"Over the years, I've become kind of desensitized to it, but it affects the younger officers very deeply," he says with a sigh. "Some require counseling."
THE VEHICULAR CHAOS AT OCEANO DUNES is replicated in deserts and wetlands and on hillsides and beaches throughout the United States—often completely unregulated. Off-road recreation in this country has grown enormously in the past three decades, jumping from 5 million users in 1972 to 51 million in 2004. For off-road vehicle (ORV) buffs, the risk to life, limb, and axle is just part of the testosteronic appeal. But public lands, particularly in the West, are paying the price.
In 2003, then–U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth named "unmanaged recreation" one of the four biggest threats facing national forests. Former Bureau of Land Management director Jim Baca, now a spokesperson for a group called Rangers for Responsible Recreation, ranks the problem even higher: "Cumulatively," he says, "ORVs are doing more damage than any other single source."
Irresponsible off-roading does more than just rut hillsides and silt creeks. In one of the activity's more extreme permutations, known as "mud bogging," off-roaders drive into wetlands, crank their steering wheels, and hit the gas, with victory going to whoever excavates the deepest pits. Also gaining popularity is rock climbing—by machine. "We're starting to see people bringing bizarre, custom-made vehicles into the alpine areas of the forest," says Frank Mosbacher, a spokesperson for Eldorado National Forest in the Sierra. "They're using them to climb rock formations."
Today's ORVs are the bastard offspring of cheap, post-WWII surplus jeeps and stripped-down, souped-up Volkswagen dune buggies, born in the peculiarly Southern Californian car culture of the 1960s and '70s. Freeing motorists from the tyranny of the tarmac, off-roading made nearly any natural landscape a playground for mechanized humans. ORVs are merely the latest manifestation of a conflict that has bedeviled public-land policy since "auto camping" first came into vogue in the late 1920s.
Today the stakes are immeasurably higher, thanks to the confluence of population growth, advanced technology, and consumer affluence. While backpacking numbers are going down, the refinement of off-road engineering has yielded a wide array of vehicles at a multitude of price points, making off-roading, for many, the default way to interact with nature.
For some, the sport's implicit ethos is a willingness to run wild over not only nature but also the social contract. Last Easter weekend, for example, a bacchanal of a thousand ORV aficionados at the Little Sahara Recreation Area in Utah degenerated into a near riot. The 50 law enforcement officers who were summoned to the site clashed with inebriated riders for two nights running. The riders blocked roads and fondled women or forced them to bare their breasts before letting them pass. When the cops moved in, the riders pelted them with bottles, rocks, cans, and batteries. Thirty-seven people required medical treatment; 300 were arrested or cited.
Ron Kearns, a retired wildlife biologist and law enforcement officer who spent two decades working on the 665,400-acre Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona, says ORV use has spiked across the Southwest, with damage to desert lands increasing proportionally with the number of riders.
"There are 300 miles of sanctioned ORV roads at Kofa, but people persist in driving off-route," Kearns says. "For hundreds of feet on each side of the refuge roads, the desert has been rutted and gouged by ORVs." The passage of vehicles destroys the desert's fragile cryptobiotic crust—the thin, brittle veneer that can take centuries to form. Fracturing this "desert pavement" leads to rapid erosion and can destroy the algae, fungi, and other microorganisms that inhabit arid-land soils.
"I still live near Kofa, and I often see lines of 15 to 20 riders coming through," Kearns says. "You see more and more ORVs with the 'snowbirds'—retirees who come here each winter. Not too long ago, they were happy to hike. Now they're riding. Maybe they think it's their last chance to have some thrills."
The Forest Service is in the process of designating ORV routes in many national forests and proscribing ORV use elsewhere. But it is unclear how the understaffed agency intends to keep riders in sanctioned areas. Even in the Eldorado, located within an hour of 2.2 million people and one of the most visited national forests, only one law enforcement officer is on patrol. ("We plan to expand that to four," says Mosbacher.) When wayward riders are caught, the penalty is minimal: "The fines are too low," says Kearns, "about $75."
For their part, ORV enthusiasts say the sport has been smeared by the antics of rogues. "Sure, there are a few knuckleheads—maybe more than a few," says Bill Dart, land-use director for the Off-Road Business Association. "But the picture painted [by environmentalists] isn't accurate. Most ORV users are law-abiding and considerate." Dart complains that environmentalists "are adamantly opposed to motorized recreation under any and all circumstances. There's no room for talk."
Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, finds this disingenuous. "Their approach," he says, "is basically 'F— you; why don't you talk to us?'" Discussion with ORV enthusiasts, he says, must begin with their acknowledgment and respect for sanctioned off-road routes. "Otherwise, off-road use precludes all other wildland uses. It's hard to birdwatch if there's a mufflerless motor screaming nearby."
Most environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, do not argue for the elimination of off-road vehicles, says Karl Forsgaard, chair of the Club's Wild Planet Strategy Team. But he does encourage hikers, skiers, and others to assert themselves. "I'll tell you what doesn't work," he says. "When you're in a meeting with one ranger and 90 motorheads. The general public is behind us, but off-roaders are able to mobilize their forces very effectively."
Baca, of Rangers for Responsible Recreation, has an idea of how to rally the nonmotorized millions. "I have the perfect TV ad," he says. "A family is in their backyard, admiring the new lawn they've just put down. Then a guy hops the fence and tears it up with his ATV. In essence, that's what's happening on our public lands."
Glen Martin was, until recently, an environmental reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Utah BLM and ORV news today
Monday, October 29, 2007
UPDATE, 8:20pm: S. TUCSON -- Big thanks to participating candidates Rodney Glassman (D), Regina Romero (D), Dave Croteau (G), Dan Spahr (R) and Beryl Baker (G), and to yes and no sides of the Prop. 200 tax repeal and water issue.
Glassman, Romero and Croteau did best, in my view, and voters gained knowledge on candidates and issues. All candidates and advocates there had some good ideas, and demonstrated hard work and commitment by showing up to a neighborhood debate.
Fox 11 TV news sent a cameraman.
I plan to offer my city election voting guide here before election day.
TUCSON, 9am -- The south downtown Santa Rita Park Neighborhood Association is hosting a city election debate this eve, from 5:30-7:35pm at the Sam Lena Library, 1607 S. 6th Ave.
Please participate and bring your family, friends and neighbors.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
TUCSON -- The Star has been running a series on growth, development and urban sprawl, 'Pima County at a million.'
Today they did an interesting story on land man and developer, Don Diamond.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
TUCSON -- Bill Richardson had successful events today here and in Phoenix. He raised money at a breakfast event in mid-town Tucson, talked energy, environment, and other issues, was covered by major media, and launched his new Mi Familia Con Richardson effort.
Thanks, Governor, for visiting and campaigning in Arizona. Wise move.
Richardson has the best energy plan, and is the only major Dem candidate saying get all troops out of Iraq immediately
"It's easy to picture him rising to the top. He is the most experienced person running for president. He served in Congress for 14 years. He was the energy secretary... He's a successful two-term governor who was re-elected with 69 percent of the vote in New Mexico, a red state. Moreover, he's a governor with foreign policy experience." -- David Brooks, NY Times
His schedule of Tucson and Phoenix events which are open to the public and free is below.
WHEN: Saturday, October 27th, 9am
WHAT: Meeting with Environmental and Energy Community
WHERE: ArtFare the Muse, 55 North 6th Avenue, Tucson
WHEN: Saturday, October 27th, 10:15 am
WHAT: Launch of Inaugural Tucson Chapter of Mi Familia con Bill Richardson
WHERE: ArtFare the Muse, 55 North 6th Avenue, Tucson
WHEN: Saturday, October 27th, 2pm
WHAT: Fajita Fundraiser and Launch of Inaugural Phoenix Chapter of Mi Familia con Bill Richardson
WHERE: IBEW Building, 5808 North 7th Street, Phoenix
Thursday, October 25, 2007
"We have one arm of the federal government trying to protect wildlife while a different arm is doing its best to eradicate the same animals - how much sense does that make?" asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "Our federal government does not have a coherent let alone coordinated wildlife policy."
The 2006 Wildlife Service kill totals for mammals were up sharply from previous years:
- A record number of gray wolves (278), the subject of a highly publicized reintroduction effort, were killed in numbers that are up more than six-fold since 1996;
- Another 116,610 mammalian carnivores, including 87,000 coyotes, 10,000 raccoons, 2,500 bobcats, 500 badgers, and 318 black bears were taken by federal wildlife agents who also killed 1,184 housecats and 512 dogs; and
- Approximately 50,000 animals from the rodent and rabbit families—the largest toll came from beavers (28,000), followed by nutria (2,500), and marmots and woodchucks (3,700).
"This annual carnage is just staggering," said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, noting that Wildlife Services killed approximately six million animals in the period between 2003 and 2005. "Wildlife Services is like the wildlife equivalent of Blackwater, shooting first and deflecting questions later."
Notwithstanding the record mammal toll, the majority of animals exterminated by Wildlife Services were birds, including more than a million starlings, and thousands of other avian species:
- Water birds such as 15,855 cormorants, 469 herons, 2,373 ducks, 13,603 geese, and 18,243 gulls;
- Raptors, including 298 hawks, 505 owls, and 12 osprey, as well as 4,871 vultures - important environmental actors that clean up carcasses; and
- 37,391 blackbirds - because they eat grains and sunflower seeds.
The two groups are calling for the federal government to get out of the wildlife extermination business and to divert resources toward management of wildlife populations that are coming into greater conflict with sprawling human development.*
Also today, more views in the news on Tucson's Prop. 200.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
UPDATE, 11/1: Others' views on this in the Tucson Citizen
TUCSON -- So much for clean transportation, exercise and conservation, it seems Chief Miranda's TPD got out-of-control last night, harassing and violating the rights of bicyclists on a community bike ride.
Our city will never get the platinum rating, and will likely lose the gold, if TPD doesn't clean up its act now and protect bicyclists instead of harassing them.
Unaccountable Miranda has refused to address these concerns.
Will City Manager Mike Hein do his job and put a stop to this unjust police aggression toward bicyclists?
WASHINGTON -- A bill introduced earlier this year by Reps. Grijalva and Giffords (D-AZ7&8), to establish the Tucson-area Santa Cruz Valley as a National Heritage Area, has passed the U.S. House of Representatives today.
The legislation passed by a vote of 291-122. Part of a package of amendments to the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Act, the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act will help preserve and promote the cultural and natural resources in the Santa Cruz Valley.
National Heritage Areas differ from National Parks and other types of Federal designations because they do not impose Federal zoning or regulations on land use, and do not involve land acquisitions. Because a National Heritage Area is locally initiated and managed, it is a community-based conservation strategy that recognizes that the people who live in a heritage area are qualified to preserve its resources.
“I am proud to have brought this bill from the Santa Cruz Valley to the floor of the House of Representatives,” said Rep. Grijalva. “I want to thank all the stakeholders who came together to help protect this area. Heritage areas connect people to the cultural, historic, and natural treasures of an area, and this legislation will maintain the Santa Cruz Valley through education, preservation and promotion of its unique resources.”
National Heritage Area designation provides federal recognition and financial support. Through annual Congressional appropriations administered by local National Park unit partners, up to $10 million in 50-percent match funding is available to each National Heritage Area over a period of 15 years. This "seed money" can help cover basic expenses such as staffing, and leverages other money from state, local, and private sources to implement locally selected projects. This initial investment ensures that these areas get a solid start toward financial and operational independence.
“Congress can either provide the program the tools and support it needs to continue maturing into a successful preservation model or we can turn our backs on heritage areas and leave local communities to fend for themselves,” said Grijalva. “Ever since Congress established heritage areas over twenty years ago, heritage tourism has been growing. Today, it has become a significant economic engine. These areas are worthwhile not only as a way to help local economies, but as a crucial tool in preserving our communities' links to their past.”
“Today marks a true milestone in the long history of environmental awareness in Southern Arizona,” Giffords said. “With today’s vote, Congress is making sure that preservation and conservation efforts will be based on voluntary decision-making at the local level. This is participatory democracy at its best.”
It was part of broader legislation authorizing six new heritage areas in nine states. Supporters of each area include residents, business interests, nonprofit organizations, and local and state governments.
“The Santa Cruz Valley’s designation as a National Heritage Area will preserve the deep connection between our precious natural resources, our unique cultural traditions and our fragile historic places,” said Giffords. “It means Southern Arizonans will set the agenda as we determine the best way to manage urban growth in the fastest-growing state in the country.”
“This designation helps our community create a future that honors the cultural traditions, historic places and natural treasures that are so important to us all,” said Vanessa Bechtol, programs manager for Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, a non-profit group advocating creation of the heritage area. “We applaud Congresswoman Giffords and Congressman Grijalva for introducing legislation that celebrates and promotes our rich heritage.”
The Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area would encompass roughly 3,300 square miles in southern Arizona, bordering Mexico, from Marana to Nogales.
The Santa Cruz Valley contains cactus-covered slopes, open grasslands, rugged canyons, forested mountain ranges, and rare desert streams. It also is home to Spanish missions, fortresses, ghost towns, and old mines. Traces of human habitation in the valley stretch back more than 12,000 years.
In other environmental news from Congress, all Arizona Dems except Harry Mitchell wisely joined 90 other members to voice concerns to Interior Sec. Dirk Kempthorne about off-road vehicles, and poor planning, harming archaeological sites on BLM public lands in Utah.
Many members are concerned about current BLM planning in Utah because it will also be tried soon in their state, and they are noticing growing off-road vehicle conflicts in many areas nationwide.
Also, Gov. Napolitano was in Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada yesterday talking about global warming.
Monday, October 22, 2007
UPDATE, 10/24: Tucson Citizen editorial
TUCSON -- My Congressman, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ7), Chair of the US House subcommittee on Parks, Forests and Public Lands, released the statement below regarding Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff’s decision today to ignore a federal court order and pursue a waiver of all laws, including environmental protections, in the BLM San Pedro River Riparian National Conservation Area and 5.4 miles of other borderlands.
Public-interest laws waived by Chertoff: NEPA, Endangered Species Act, Federal Water Pollution Control Act (known as Clean Water Act), National Historic Preservation Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Clean Air Act, Archaeological Resources Protection Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Noise Control Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act as amended by Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund), Federal Land Policy and Management Act, Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act, Antiquities Act, Historic Sites, Buildings and Antiquities Act, Arizona Idaho Conservation Act, Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Farmland Protection Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act.
Congressman Grijalva says:
"The Secretary’s decision to invoke a waiver for fence construction in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is short sighted and, combined with other wall construction along the border, will devastate the region and the river. It is an insult to those of us who live on the border. "
"The Secretary’s responsibility is to protect the homeland, not selectively destroy our environment for political gain."
"The REAL ID Act, which allows the Secretary of Homeland Security, a political appointee, to waive all laws for fence and road construction along the border, was never intended to be used along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, the waiver was intended only for use on a small section of fencing in San Diego."
“This is the second time the Secretary has utilized the waiver in Arizona, clearly because he is aware that the environmental analysis created to justify the San Pedro wall project was weak and unsupportable under current law."
"The waiver is unnecessary; unfortunately the Secretary feels that he cannot work towards a measure that could include protecting the river as we secure the border. Nor does he believe in his fundamental responsibility to consult with local communities on the best approach to border protection for our specific region."
"Once again this Secretary and this Administration has given into fear-mongering and shown that they cannot be stewards of the land, let alone promoters of security. Just as in many other contexts, this Administration believes that it is above the laws that protect the environment, health and human safety of border communities. The unfortunate losers in this are the American people."
"Instead of issuing blanket waivers of all laws, the Secretary should begin a full scale, regional, environmental impact statement that analyzes in depth the impacts of fence and wall construction in Arizona, just as they are doing in Texas. The local community deserves the respect to have an open and transparent process with full environmental analysis where local voices who understand the implication of border polices are included in the dialogue. Our local communities are open to working on behalf of security - not a selective security, but rather one that includes habitat, national, border, and regional security."
"It is easy for political appointees in Washington, D.C. to implement a policy that affects communities and the environment several thousand miles away, ignoring the residents, culture, and landscape. But, this wall does not protect our communities; it separates our history, culture, wildlife and natural habitats."
"I have introduced legislation that among other things would repeal the REAL ID waiver, taking back the power from this administration to overturn established laws that protect the environment and the public’s right to know what federal officials are doing. I plan to continue to push for consideration of my legislation in order to rein in these continued abuses of power."
Right on, Raul! Some strong words of leadership on a sad day for the San Pedro River and fair, open government.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ8), who represents the San Pedro River area in Cochise County, says, "I am extremely disappointed in Secretary Chertoff’s decision. The Department of Homeland Security must listen to the environmentalists and border residents of Southern Arizona before resuming fence construction. My goal is to balance strong border security and legitimate environmental concerns."
She also recently was quoted in the media as saying she supports REAL ID administrative authority to suspend all laws to allow building of border walls.
I hope she will change that risky position.
Rep. Giffords has yet to support Rep. Grijalva's important bill to reign in DHS' administrative abuses of power. Perhaps now she'll reconsider as DHS suspends all law to speed a border wall across a fragile river and wildlife corridor in her district, ignoring her reasonable call for an Environmental Impact Statement.
She should join with Grijalva on his bill. People elected Giffords to stand up to Bush's recklessness. She campaigned in favor of protecting the San Pedro River, and against border walls in wild areas. Plus, the 'wall the border' extremists are a small minority that will never support her.
It's just not right to try to wall the last free desert river in the southwest and BLM National Conservation Area, and US law would likely show it to be illegal, which is why the lawless Bush administration simply had to exempt the federal government from the law. To suspend the law is strongly un-American. It's just not ethical.
No word yet from Senators Kyl or McCain on this heavy-handed move by the federal government to harm the environment in Arizona. As Bush buddies, it is safe to assume they support the lawless river harming wall. Our Senators are Big Gov't men.
Also no word yet from Gov. Napolitano, who should be outraged.
The Bush administration's move today to suspend US law to speed more unchecked border militarization is a disgrace to America, Mexico, the environment, and the rule of law.
New 'Berlin Walls' on the border will not work to stop illegal immigration, and the web-of-life on the San Pedro River and other rivers and landscapes in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas will be badly damaged.
Power-hungry Chertoff should be forced to resign, and the REAL ID waiver should be repealed by Congress.
Meanwhile, it's likely that mega-contractor Phoenix-based Granite Construction will be back out in the morning on its big money contract to wreck the San Pedro River.
Don't be surprised if big floods this winter or in monsoon 08 knock out all Chertoff's 'small man' border walls on the San Pedro River, which the feds will again probably try to foolishly rebuild.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
TUCSON -- Tumamoc Hill, the long-time desert research site on the west side, needs permanent protection after over 15 years of limbo.
Richard Elias, Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, who also has Tumamoc Hill in his district, has an important op-ed in today's Star about a preservation option the county is considering.
As a city planning commissioner, ecologist and southwest director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, I was called and interviewed at length on the issue Friday by Star reporter Erica Meltzer, but my comments did not appear in her article yesterday. Perhaps I was too positive and she didn't include or an editor cut my comments?
I am generally supportive of Chair Elias' proposal here. With the current real estate slump, now may be a good time for the county to buy the 320 acres of State Lands at Tumamoc Hill and save it forever from development.
Given the local political support, it is unlikely any local developers will try to out-bid the county at auction. It is possible big out-of-town development corporations will try to buy it, but it seems the county has an agreement with State Lands to avoid that disaster.
If the county gets the land it should be forever preserved. Tucson is a known center for science, and the UA-lead research at Tumamoc will be protected. The public will still be able to hike the popular road to the top for exercise and great views.
The real problem here is the long-overdue need for significant reform of the Arizona State Lands system and State Land Department. Right now the system works well for huge development corporations, and largely against conservation and quality of life.
With over 9 million acres of State Lands in Arizona, this issue affects us all. If I am elected to the Arizona House, I will pursue reform of the State Lands system to better serve education, conservation and quality of life for all Arizonans.
Elias is wise and bold with his Tumamoc Hill preservation proposal. Other Supervisors, the public and State Land Department should back it.
Doing nothing and keeping Tumamoc Hill in continual limbo, with a possible development threat hanging over it, is riskier and not in the public-interest.
Also today, some differing views on Tucson's Prop. 200
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The President and Congress showed some heart in recently giving the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor to the Dalai Lama. They also refused to fully bow to China's strong complaining about it.
The Dalai Lama deserves praise, and China deserves more scrutiny of its human rights record.
GW also made some welcome remarks today at an eastern National Wildlife Refuge about bird conservation.
His administration has done a very poor job on the environment so far, and, don't believe his hype, the President's support as reflected in his budget request for the National Wildlife Refuge System is dismal. But I appreciate his environmental talk. At least he had to think about it today.
Bush's political advisers are clueless for holding the 'green bird talk' event as a stopover on the President's trip to meet Dick Cheney at one of his mansions. Any link to his fellow oil man Cheney makes Bush's environmental spin even more tough to believe.
But Bush has to walk some real green walk, which may be like trying to teach an old dog new tricks. If he's serious, he should start to use some of his Presidential authority to protect, not attack, the environment.
A good, but very unlikely, move by Bush and Congress would be ending the immoral and failed Iraq war, which is a huge stress on the national budget, and put more real money toward conservation, clean air, energy and water.
Bush has a chance still to 'go green,' but given his dirty history America and the world will probably have to wait until the Dems win the White House next year for real environmental progress, depending on what Dem may win. Bill Richardson would be very good for diplomacy and the environment.
Friday, October 19, 2007
UPDATE, 10/25: AZ Republic editorial on non-lead shot.
ALPINE AZ -- Today, after the good hunt, I mostly just chilled out and caught up on communications.
It was a nice sunny warm afternoon so I took a short road trip to Reserve NM. Reserve is known as a long-time hot bed of anti-environmentalism, but everyone was real nice to me. I'm sure my camo hat and snap-button cowboy shirt helped.
Not much happening in that Catron County town, but I had a beer in the only bar and talked with Buddy. Despite several prominent 'no smoking' signs, people smoked at the bar. I went outside.
Tonight is the last for me this trip at the Blue River Retreat (thanks, Hoffmans). It was a special experience exploring, hiking and hunting the Blue, Black, Campbell Blue, and San Francisco Rivers and other public lands in the Apache National Forest.
Back to Tucson with the dog tomorrow.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
TUCSON -- High Country News has a feature article out about border walls and Jaguars. I am quoted for PEER.
Daniel Patterson is Southwest director and ecologist for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a private group that advocates for professionals who work for government agencies charged with enforcing environmental laws. Patterson calls the Fish and Wildlife opinion "very disturbing. The border walls would be a huge problem. People have largely been celebrating the slow return of the jaguar to Arizona and New Mexico. The political people at the Fish and Wildlife Service seem to be willing to write the jaguar off. The Fish and Wildlife Service once again is not enforcing the Endangered Species Act."
Patterson... contends that morale at Fish and Wildlife and other land and wildlife agencies is dismal due to politicization of enforcement and ignorance of the law.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
UPDATE, 10/19: Bill Richardson will be in Tucson and Phoenix Oct 27 for public events. See bottom of this post for details.
SILVER CITY NM
I welcome this good news from
"As keystone predators, wolves play a critical role in maintaining balanced ecosystems," said Governor Bill Richardson. "We must redouble our efforts to promote healthy wolf populations coexisting with our communities and land stewards - both in
The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program is led by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, with participation by the New Mexico Department of Game & Fish and other state and federal partners. At the end of 2006, there were 59 Mexican wolves in the recovery area that spans portions of
Text of Gov. Richardson's proclamation:
WHEREAS, the wolf is a symbol of wilderness, our wildlife heritage, and an integral part of natural ecosystems; and
WHEREAS, a growing awareness of the benefits of maintaining biological diversity has raised public interest in the wolf; and
WHEREAS, The Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, as mandated by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, was adopted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1982 and the Blue Range Wolf Reintroduction project was initiated in January 1998, and the subsequent release of wolves into the Gila region of New Mexico and the Blue Range area in eastern Arizona; and
WHEREAS, the Mexican Wolf remains imperiled throughout the recovery area; and
WHEREAS, the New Mexico State Game Commission and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish have redoubled their efforts to work with all interests to promote healthy wolf populations coexisting in reasonable compatibility with our communities and land stewards in New Mexico; and
WHEREAS, the survival of the wolf in the United States of America remains uncertain and depends upon continued public support and increased understanding of the essential role wolves play in nature;
NOW, THEREFORE I, Bill Richardson, Governor of the State of New Mexico, do hereby proclaim October 15-19, 2007 as: "Wolf Awareness Week" throughout the State of New Mexico.
I am glad to see this proclamation, especially after
Please speak for the wolves and better protection for their recovery at upcoming FWS public hearings in Arizona and New Mexico, Nov 26-Dec 8:
November 26 - Flagstaff AZ; November 27 - Hon-dah AZ; November 28 - Alpine AZ; November 29 - Grants NM; November 30 - Albuquerque NM; December 1 - Socorro NM; December 3 - Alamogordo NM; December 4 - Las Cruces NM; December 5 - Glenwood NM; December 6 - Safford AZ; December 7 - Tucson AZ; December 8 - Phoenix AZ
Big Bill will be in Arizona on Sat. Oct 27 for events in Tucson and Phoenix.
Breakfast with Bill Richardson in Tucson, 8-9a, Home of Fletcher and Liz McCusker, 3233 East Via Palos Verdes, (2 blocks east of Country Club, just south of Broadway). To RSVP contact Roshan Patel at 505.239.4697 or email@example.com. Plan to donate if you show up.
Also in Tucson, he'll be talking about his energy plan and introducing Mi Familia con Richardson from 9:30-11:30am, ArtFare the Muse, 55 N. 6th Ave., Tucson.
In Phoenix, everyone is invited to a "Fajita Fundraiser" with Governor Richardson to launch the "Mi Familia con Bill Richardson" program. Be there 2-4pm to meet Governor Richardson and learn about this nationwide family-to-family grassroots program to get the Governor's message to Latino communities. Location: IBEW Building, 5808 N. 7th St., Phoenix.
Enjoy great food provided by Mi Patio Restaurant at the Phoenix event; plates are $10 each and all proceeds go to the Richardson for President campaign.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
UPDATE, 10/30: WASHINGTON -- Senate Leader Reid served Bush/Cheney and hosed Sen. Wyden, ethics and science today by calling for a vote while Wyden was out of town with his wife who was having a baby. It seems Reid doesn't care much for needed reforms at Interior.
UPDATE, 10/16: WASHINGTON -- Read some inside views below that I just received from people close to the situation in the US Senate. Names have been removed where you see ...
I just talked to... Here's the update:
Wyden is continuing to maintain his hold on Laverty's nomination, and he is receiving communication from Interior, trying to address his concerns. I believe Wyden still has some personal conviction about this issue and is willing to put his neck out via the hold because he feels his state got screwed (the salmon, etc.).
Meanwhile, Reid does want to see the hold cleared and is therefore applying some pressure to Wyden about it, but I don't know if Reid has any deal cut with Interior or if he just wants to see some progress on appointments. ...did not make it sound like the pressure from Reid was super strong, but it's there. ...said Wyden and his staff are "keeping an open mind," but emphasized that they feel like the hold is getting some positive results (forcing Interior to revisit the species decisions, address some of the ethics concerns).
The communication from Interior to Wyden has been about both the process that FWS used to select their list of species decisions they would revisit and the changes Interior is making to address the underlying problem. I asked... what that second part meant, and it was Kempthorne's wimpy ethics platform that he announced a few months ago. On the process for deciding which species to revisit, ...did not indicate that this was still a thing they were pissed about (the tone of ...response implied they were somewhat satisfied by the answer from FWS), but ...also said they were not directly a part of all the meetings and conversations on this.
I emphasized that we were still concerned about the species that didn't make it on the FWS list. I also mentioned that UCS had some good recommendations to share about how Congress and Interior might address the systemic reforms needed. I mentioned the concepts of right of last review, dissenting opinion documentation, and whistleblower protection legislation. I told... I would talk to... and encourage them to contact her if they had any suggestions to share. She seemed very interested in this. ...mentioned that Wyden would be hesitant to introduce something that felt like a big new demand late in the negotiations, but I told ...we would all think about more modest asks that may be appropriate on a shorter time scale.
...It could be helpful to have Wyden pushing for the same policy reforms you/we are calling for. Call me if you want to talk more...
On the issue of the wronged species that FWS will revisit, I will resend... our master list of Julie-affected decisions, along with the addendum of ones that were not Julie but still smack of political interference. Please recommend anything else we might want to provide to or ask of Wyden's staff.
WASHINGTON -- A hold by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on President Bush's nominee to head the Fish and Wildlife Service has prompted Senate Majority Leader Reid to try to end the impasse. Bush nominated Lyle Laverty of Arvada CO to be assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks March 26. Wyden announced his hold four days later because of problems associated with former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Julie MacDonald.
MacDonald resigned May 1 after a review by the department's inspector general in March found she had given government documents to industry lobbyists. Wyden is seeking assurances that the Interior Department will review MacDonald's actions and attempt to prevent similar incidents. "We haven't received the concrete assurances that we've been looking for yet," a Wyden spokeswoman said.
Reid offered an apology of sorts to the Bush administration for the delay. "I want those in the White House and [Interior] Secretary Kempthorne's office who are watching to know I have done my best to clear [Laverty], whom Secretary Kempthorne badly needs, he says, and I believe that," Reid said in comments in the Oct. 4 Congressional Record. "But I have been unable to do that. We have a member on our side with whom I have worked all afternoon. We thought we had it done once, and it did not work out." Reid added he is confident they will work out a deal and hoped Kempthorne "recognizes we will do what we can on the Monday or Tuesday we get back to see if we can clear this."
An Interior Department spokesman said Kempthorne has spoken with Reid and made the point that the assistant secretary position has been vacant since 2005 and Laverty "is extremely well qualified for the position, and it is important that he be confirmed quickly so that he can get to work." Kempthorne, who served a term in the Senate, "has a great working relationship with Sen. Reid," the spokesman added.
Wyden's spokeswoman said, "There have been some discussions with leadership, but I don't have any progress to report." Wyden also cites the inspector general's findings in charging that MacDonald forced Fish and Wildlife Service scientists and staff to alter findings, including shrinking the nesting range of the endangered southwest willow flycatcher so it does not cross into California where MacDonald's in-laws owned a ranch.
-- by Darren Goode, CongressDaily
Monday, October 15, 2007
DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies have just swept their way to the World Series, beating one of my favorite teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks.
They will rest now until they take on the winner of the Cleveland-Boston ALCS. I hope the Rockies win the World Series. Looks like a good chance they will even sweep.
The DBacks had a great year, and will be back again strong in 08.
TUCSON -- Read below for recent court decision of guilty on off-road vehicle related crime on the Coronado National Forest near Tucson.
PEER and Rangers for Responsible Recreation are moving to end reckless off-roading on public lands.
from US Forest Service
USDA - FOREST SERVICE
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INVESTIGATIONS
WEEKLY REPORT FOR THE WEEK OF
September 30 - October 6, 2007
I've been up on the Blue River hunting a wild turkey for Thanksgiving, and seeing some ATVs, including use in areas closed to motor vehicles. Too many are hunting from their trucks or ATVs by driving, usually too fast, up and down the main roads.
So I head for the backcountry, where the roads end and the adventures begin.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
ALPINE AZ -- It's fall in the Blue Range and that means wild turkey season.
I'm up here now on the Blue River hunting for the family's Thanksgiving bird.
The leaves are changing and falling, the rivers are flowing, the wind is blowing and the turkeys are quick and hiding.
Friday, October 12, 2007
"Unlike everyone else these days, Patterson isn't exploring — he's actually in." Arizona Daily Star, Political Notebook, 10/6
UPDATE, 11/9: Fund raising going strong.
Oct 5, TUCSON -- Last night I spoke with Democratic activists and PCs in Legislative District 29.
Today I filed my statement of organization with the Secretary of State to form the Daniel Patterson for Arizona House campaign committee.
I am running on a quality of life platform to improve health care, schools, jobs, transportation, environment and water security.
Elaine Richardson, retired State Senator and former member of Gov. Napolitano's cabinet, is my Hon. Campaign Chairwoman.
Today's action means I'm in the race, and allows me to accept early donations of up to $130 per person.
I ask for your support of my race to help reclaim the Arizona Legislature for the public-interest, and win a Democratic majority.
Please send donations to: Patterson for AZ House, POB 172, Tucson AZ 85702, with your full name, address, phone/email, occupation and employer -- this info is required by law.
I will be participating in Arizona's Clean Elections system.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
UPDATE, 10/15: The museum has restored both flags. Good move. Thank you.
TUCSON -- By threatening to kill its native Sonoran Desert animals, border militarization zealots bullied the world-famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to remove the Mexican and US flags which have flown at its entrance for 53 years.
The handful of flag haters are the same violent mouth breathers -- usually moved by ignorance and racism -- who support Bush/Cheney/Chertoff's unethical new 'Berlin Wall' on the San Pedro River, and across the entire border with our friendly neighbor and critical economic partner, Mexico.
Most Americans do not agree with them.
Thankfully, a wise judge yesterday applied American law and halted Bush's immoral Berlin Wall project on the San Pedro River, but the feds may ignore the courts and keep on walling.
At the museum, morons making threats about the Mexican flag don't seem to know that most of the Sonoran Desert is in Mexico.
Desert museum leaders should not bow to these extremist threats. They should put both flags back up today.
The museum should bring in more security to protect the animals from any minuteman-types trying to harm the native Sonoran Desert animals at the museum. I'll volunteer, and so would many others who are outraged by the blowhard border bullies.
The Pima County Sheriff should try hard to track down whoever is making the threats, and help better protect the museum.
This outrageous disgrace should not stand.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
UPDATE, 10/17: Vail Sun editorial
VAIL AZ -- Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll is calling upon Governor Napolitano to stop a county-opposed mine near Davidson Canyon permitted by her State Land Department.
The proposed mine would be on State Land in Carroll's district.
I agree with the County here. The Phoneix-based Arizona State Land Department, under the direction of Mark Winkelman, has acted reckless and greedy for too long, with little to no regard for conservation or quality of life.
Reform of the State Land Department is one reason I am running for the Arizona House. If elected, I will pursue public-interest reforms of this important, but little known, state agency.
UPDATE, 11/2: WASHINGTON -- Greens challenge constitutionality of REAL ID waiver.
UPDATE, 10/18: TUCSON -- Read this High Country News article.
UPDATE, 10/17: LOS ANGELES -- LA Times editorial by Ruben Martinez.
UPDATE, 10/14: WASHINGTON -- Bush/Cheney/Chertoff may ignore court and void judge's order using Real ID act powers.
UPDATE, 10/10: WASHINGTON -- Good news. Today the court ruled to halt construction of the border wall on the San Pedro River. Read more.
“We just want the government to follow the law,” said Sean Sullivan with the Sierra Club’s Tucson-based Rincon (southeastern Arizona) Group. “We believe we can secure our borders without permanently destroying America’s special places such as the San Pedro National Conservation Area. There are less destructive alternatives which the Border Patrol should be allowed to use.”
UPDATE, 10/8: WASHINGTON -- Fed court in DC may halt border wall across river this week. Go, Segee!
Arizona Republic, 10/6: "The Arizona border is being walled off right now, and it's being done without the government taking into consideration the impacts to wildlife," said Brian Segee, staff attorney for Defenders of Wildlife.
UPDATE, 10/5: WASHINGTON -- Today, green groups were forced to go to court and file for a temporary restraining order, which would immediately halt construction on a damaging segment of border wall along the Arizona-Sonora border in the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
"The government has willingly continued construction of the border wall in the San Pedro National Conservation Area, despite having received our appeal on Monday. If we don’t ask for this temporary restraining order now, our arguments will never be heard and it will be too late for the San Pedro and the wildlife that rely on it,” said Sean Sullivan with the Sierra Club’s Tucson-based Rincon (southeastern Arizona) Group. “The bottom line is that there needs to be a comprehensive assessment done before breaking ground on projects such as this. Following the processes that have been on the books for many years will ensure that our national treasures are protected, and that is what we are trying to accomplish today.”
UPDATE, 10/1: WASHINGTON -- Today, a legal appeal against border walls across the San Pedro River was filed with BLM by Defenders of Wildlife and Sierra Club.
Nice work, Brian Segee.
"The San Pedro National Conservation Area is an irreplaceable national treasure. Putting a fence right through the middle of it will rob America of one of its most important wildlife areas, but it won't make America any safer," says Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife. "The decision to build a wall in this unique area points out the absurdity of the government's ill-conceived approach to securing America's borders. Meanwhile, the government isn't even considering the cumulative impacts of these wall segments on wildlife and habitat. They haven't taken a step back to look at the whole picture—and right now that picture looks bleak."
"...Arizona is the place where bulldozers are tearing up the borderland as we speak," says Sean Sullivan, executive committee member for the Tucson-based Sierra Club Rincon (Southern Arizona) Group. "...the government has a responsibility to make sure its actions are thoroughly examined before it starts any new projects, especially in areas as sensitive as the San Pedro.
9/30, BISBEE AZ -- The bumbling, out-of-control and reckless Bush/Cheney/Chertoff Department of Homeland Security-Border Patrol has plans to try to wall off the San Pedro River, a top big money eco-tourism site, and one of the most important rivers left for wildlife in the American southwest.
The San Pedro River flows north from Sonora, Mexico in to Cochise County, Arizona, within US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-AZ) CD8.
Much of the river within Cochise County, including at the US-Mexico border, is supposed to be protected as the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, within BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.
Big construction corporations friendly with the Bush/Cheney DHS are making tons of money from federal wall contracts, an important political fact pushing border militarization projects, most of which will fail.
Trying to barricade and wall the San Pedro River will not work to stop illegal immigration, but would deeply harm the desert stream web-of-life.
People don't want a new Berlin Wall on the San Pedro. This absurd border militarization folly must be stopped.
Monday, October 08, 2007
TUCSON -- A new monthly magazine hit the streets last week, Tucson Green Magazine.
Tucson Green Magazine is about educating, empowering and inspiring readers to make a difference in our
Articles focus on Sustainable Living, Community Spirit, Natural Health, Consciousness, and the Products, Services, Economics and Activities of "Green Living."
Tucson Green aims to provide an upbeat, fresh voice for the exchange of ideas among people, organizations and businesses working together to create positive change.
Pick up Tucson Green Magazine free around town. The first issue has a good article from local writer Jeneiene Schaffer about one of my favorite topics, raising chickens in the city.
Be a true patriot. Green is the new Red, White and Blue.
ALBUQUERQUE -- Mayor Martin Chavez (D) joins the race to replace retiring US Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM).
There will be a Dem primary. There is some question on how much support Chavez may get from New Mexico liberals, but he steps in to the race viewed as the leader.
There is a good chance the Dems can pick up this Senate seat.
There is also a chance Dems can knock out US Reps. Heather Wilson and/or Steve Pearce (Rs-NM), who both are jockeying for the GOP nomination. New Mexico and the US would be better off if they'd both retire or get voted out.
I try to follow New Mexico politics. You may want to also, especially if you live in Arizona or the Southwest.
Jim Baca runs an interesting site at Only in New Mexico.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
TUCSON -- Last night the City Planning Commission, upon which I serve, listened to community support for artists and moved an artisan residence land use amendment to Mayor and Council with unanimous support.
City leaders will likely approve it next month.
Nice work on this by Ward 1 staffer Maritza Broce, artists, City staff and fellow commissioners.
This is a step in the right direction to better support artists in Tucson. I am proud to have helped pass it.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
WASHINGTON -- Arizona Republican Senator Jon Kyl is again out on the extreme right in a new fight over Iraq war funding brewing in the U.S. Congress.
The president has asked for another $190 billion for 2008. But the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Democrat David Obey (D-WI), announced it won't be considered until next year. He said he opposes "any such request that simply serves to continue the status quo" in Iraq.
Republicans condemned any delay. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said Congress needs to act by mid-November when a stop-gap spending measure runs out.
SEN. JON KYL (R), Arizona: "I hope that we're not seeing the beginning of an effort to cut off... funding. I hope our colleagues here in the Senate will not follow Chairman Obey's lead, but will be supportive of the administration's efforts to support the resolution that would continue funding..."
Democrats insisted they'd consider emergency funds to keep war operations going into January, but Senate Majority Leader Reid said he agreed with tying longer-term funding to a change in policy.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), Senate Majority Leader: "There is nothing dealing with Iraq that is off the table. And I haven't talked in any length at all with Chairman Obey about this, but we'll take a look at everything. The one thing we're going to make certain is that we're going to continue doing everything that we can to affect change. We need to change course in the war in Iraq."
Congressman Obey and two other senior Democrats also called for a tax surcharge to pay for the war. Republicans sharply criticized that idea, and Democratic leaders said they won't consider it.
- above adapted from PBS NewsHour
Arizona Republican Jon Kyl -- our only Senator active and voting in the US Senate as McCain campaigns 24/7 -- continues to service Bush/Cheney as the leading right-wing voice for staying the course on the failed and unethical Iraq war.
Bush/Cheney veto a bill to support health care for children, but want to burn $190,000,000,000 more in the lost Iraq war, and Jon Kyl is right there at their side cheering.
On the Iraq war issue, Sen. Kyl is an embarrassment to the good people of Arizona.
Monday, October 01, 2007
A highly respected, credible and accomplished businesswoman, mom and leader, Ms. Richardson served on Governor Napolitano's cabinet, as an Arizona State Senator and Representative, and is a current member of the Arizona-Mexico Commission.
Thank you, Elaine!
FORT COLLINS CO -- Hot of the presses today is the highly anticipated book: Cost of Freedom - The Anthology of Peace & Activism. Published by Howling Dog Press, 160 pages, and 11" x 13", it contains inspiring stories, indy journalist coverage of street actions, poems, rants, and beautiful color photos.
Be sure to check out entries from Tucsonans Jeneiene Schaffer and Pat Birnie.
With dozens of accolades from the leaders of the peace movement, here's the first in this book from Howard Zinn:
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we only see the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember thsoe times and places - and there are many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act."
The Battle of Seattle where Jeneiene spent three days in the King County Jail protesting the WTO
Here's what Noam Chomsky has to say of this anthology:
"This varied and exciting collection graphically reveals the vitality and expanse of the popular movements opposing violence and criminal ventures abroad. It should inspire many more to join in these efforts to create a powerful force of concerned citizens that cannot be ignored, and that will help shape a much more hopeful and decent future."
Get your copy of 'Cost of Freedom' today.