Thursday, May 12, 2011

Fed plan risks AZ border security & wildlife refuge

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TUCSON -- Letter below I just sent to US Fish & Wildlife Service about a bad plan that would harm border security and wildlife in a large part of Pima & Yuma County.

Representative Daniel R. Patterson, Tucson-LD29
Ranking Member, Energy and Natural Resources Committee
House of Representatives, State Capitol, Phoenix AZ USA
602.926.5342 Capitol | 520.398.6000 Tucson |

May 12, 2011

Sid Slone, Refuge Manager
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
1611 N. 2nd Ave.
Ajo AZ 85321

RE: Issuing Permits for off-road vehicles in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

Mr. Slone, It has come to my attention that the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge will soon begin issuing permits to allow off-road vehicles (ORVs) access to the refuge. I am concerned about the propriety of this decision given the extensive impacts associated with increased illegal smuggling and Border Patrol activities on the refuge.

In addition, ORVs have a significant negative impact on wildlife, especially pronghorn, desert tortoise, big game and habitat, and there is a high likelihood of ORV users choosing to drive off-route which would have significant negative impacts on the archeological resources the refuge is intended to protect.

Please address the following questions today:
1. How is allowing ORVs on the refuge consistent with the goals of the refuge, which are to ensure wildlife and conservation come first in management of the refuge and that administration of the refuge contributes to the conservation and ecological integrity of the refuge?
2. How will allowing ORVs on the refuge ensure the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is preserving the Wilderness character of the refuge lands?
3. How has the refuge monitored motor vehicle use in the refuge to date?
4. How many citations have been issued for illegal off-road use in the refuge since 2007?
5. How many miles of illegal roads and trails are currently on the ground, including roads and trails in the Wilderness area of the refuge? Please provide a map.
6. What are the Luke Air Force Base/Barry M. Goldwater Range, BLM, NPS and AZGFD positions on allowing ORV use on the refuge and how was their input solicited?
7. What is the Department of Homeland Security’s position on allowing ORV use on the refuge and how was their input solicited?
8. What would be your signing policy?
9. Would it be routes/roads closed unless signed open?

Because the refuge apparently intends to begin issuing permits for ORVs soon, a prompt response is necessary and requested.

/s/Rep. Daniel R. Patterson

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ben Tuggle

Carol Torrez
NEPA Coordinator
NWRS Division of Planning, Southwest Regional Office
P.O. Box 1306 Albuquerque NM 87103

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