Monday, November 17, 2008

Speak up now to guard Coronado National Forest

Santa Catalina Mountains (aka Mt. Lemmon), part of your Coronado National Forest, near Tucson.

TUCSON -- The quiet, pristine Coronado National Forest and unique, fragile and scenic Sky Island mountain ranges we value could slowly disappear.

Right now, the US Forest Service is resuming public meetings to present draft sections of the revised Forest Management Plan. The new Plan will affect management of the Forest for the next twenty years or more. The Forest Service is seeking input on draft Desired Conditions, on proposed Land Use Zones, and on draft maps of Potential Wilderness. This is your opportunity to speak up for protection of the spectacular Coronado National Forest.

The Coronado Planning Partnership has released a report entitled State of the Coronado National Forest: An Assessment and Recommendations for the 21st Century. Please utilize this great tool to inform yourself about the special values of each mountain range on the Forest and to formulate comments to the Forest service. Ask for a plan that is conservation-based, protects the amazing biological diversity of the Forest, promotes a healthy and resilient Forest, and that protects quiet recreation opportunities. Ask the Forest Service to adopt State of the Coronado and the recommendations contained within, as key components of the new plan. Your input can make a difference.

Please attend public meetings in your area:
• Nogales Ranger District, Nov 17, Monday, 4-7pm, Esplendor Resort, Sonoran Ballroom, 1069 Camino Caralampi, Rio Rico
• Santa Catalina Ranger District, Nov 20, Thursday, 4-7pm, Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites, Jr. Ballroom, 5151 E. Grant, Tucson
• Forest-wide, Nov 22, Saturday, 9a-noon, Cochise College, Benson Campus, 1025 State Route 90, Benson

Meetings will be a modified open house format with a short introductory presentation at the top of every hour. If you cannot make these meetings, you can still have input.

Whether in person or in writing, talk to the Forest Service about these critical issues. Quiet Recreation: The majority of Forest visitors travel to the Forest to escape noise and pollution, and engage in quiet and low-impact recreation. These opportunities are threatened by Off-Road Vehicle use.
• Tell the Forest Service you value a quiet, pristine Forest where you can experience nature without noise and pollution. Also tell them you oppose forest fees, mining, full fire suppression and livestock grazing.
• Protect opportunities for quiet recreation, biological research, and ecotourism on the Forest.
Special Interest Area Proposals: Protect biologically and culturally important areas of the Forest through the designation of Special Management Areas. Including the following:
• Cave Creek Canyon Zoological and Botanical Area to protect the highest density of breeding raptors in the US.
• Barfoot Zoological Area to protect the largest known population of twin-spotted rattlesnakes in the US.
• Southern Peloncillo Zoological and Botanical area to protect one of the largest and healthiest wetland complexes in the State of New Mexico and on the Forest.
• Scotia Canyon Zoological and Botanical Area to protect a unique perennial cienega system rich in sensitive species such as Chiricahua leopard frog, Huachuca springsnail and Mexican Gartersnake
• Aliso Spring Riparian Preserve to protect a population of lowland leopard frogs
• Rosemont Valley Historical Area to protect over 620 historical sites
• Agua Caliente Zoological Area to protect an area of high value for botanical, bird and reptile research
• Finger Rock Research Natural Area to protect an opportunity for studying impacts of drought, climate change, and invasive species on native flora and fauna.
Wilderness Suitability: Many areas of the Forest remain rugged and wild and are a cornerstone for protecting biological diversity and ecosystem resiliency, and for providing primitive recreation opportunities. As development brings more people to the Forest, quiet, pristine areas on the Forest deserve protection.
• Protect areas of the Forest with wilderness characteristics by designating them as Suitable for Wilderness.
• Ask the Forest Service to study 1,200,000 acres across the entire Forest identified as suitable for wilderness in State of the Coronado National Forest.

Let the Forest Service know what you think by contacting Jennifer Ruyle at 388.8300 or coronado-plan@fs.fed.us, or visit here. For more information visit the Sky Island Action Center or contact Louise Misztal at 624.7080 x19, or louise@skyislandalliance.org

- adapted from SIA

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