The 55,990 acre San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) south of Tucson, Arizona has one of the most intact riparian cottonwood gallery and mesquite bosque forests left in the Southwest. It is a precious gem threatened by the BLM’s new management proposal that would make 26,000 acres available to livestock grazing and does not designate any wilderness though about half of the area qualifies. The public must get involved and demand better management for the SPRNCA.

To comment, please send your concerns to the BLM by September 27th  blm_az_tfo_sprnca_rmp@blm.gov

You can also email the project director at amarkstein@blm.gov

For more information see contact Western Watersheds Project Arizona office here: arizona@westernwatersheds.org

BACKGROUND

The San Pedro River begins in Mexico and flow north towards Tucson, Arizona and is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the state. Approximately 47 miles are protected within the SPRNCA.  Its riparian and desert habitat support some 400 species of birds, and approximately 80 mammals, one of the highest mammal species diversity in the United States.

The SPRNCA is updating its Resource Management Plan (RMP) which is 25 years old. The draft plan has four alternatives. Alternative A would simply continue management under the old RMP. Alternative B would put more emphasis on livestock grazing, ORV use, and other public access. Alternative C, the BLM’s preferred alternative is what it terms “balances” livestock grazing, recreation and public access with “conservation.”

The only alternative that justifies support is Alternative D which will provide the SPRNCA the protection a “nationally” significant conservation area deserves. Alternative D would emphasize resource protection and conservation which one would think should be the emphasis in such a nationally significant area. Alt D among other things would eliminate all livestock grazing in the Conservation Area, would designate 23,000 acres of new wilderness, designate Wild and Scenic River status to various segments of the river, and would mandate the use of “light on the land” restoration techniques. (Other alternatives would allow the use of bulldozers, herbicides, and other measures). Alternative D would also create 5 Area of Environmental Concern (ACEC) designations. Native species that are currently extirpated including Gila topminnow, loach minnow, spike dace, northern Mexican garter snake, and Chiricahua leopard frog would be reintroduced.

LIVESTOCK GRAZING IN A NATIONAL CONSERVATION AREA?

Perhaps the biggest change in management is the BLM’s proposal to expand livestock grazing on 19,000 acres of the SPRNCA. The BLM’s preferred alternative C would expand the current livestock grazing from 7,000 acres to 26,000 area. Indeed, one could argue that current management is better than the BLM’s preferred alternative. However, the only alternative that actually protects, conserves and expands overall protection for the SPRNCA is Alternative D.

Support no grazing in the entire SPRNCA, as well as Wilderness designation for 23,000 acres, and W and S river designation.

Please write the BLM and support Alt D before the comment deadline on September 27th. https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/comments/commentSubmissionDisplay.do?submissionId=SPRNCA-1-220768

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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

6 Responses to Save the San Pedro River

  1. Hi George:

    The link to the BLM comment page in your excellent and timely Wildlife News article doesn’t work. I tried paddling about in the BLM page but still couldn’t dredge it out.

    Any clues?

    Thanks for you continuing good work!

    Michael Lewis
    Monterey Bay Bioregion

  2. avatar Greta Anderson says:

    Western Watersheds Project has also posted additional resources online:

    https://www.westernwatersheds.org/sprnca2018/

  3. avatar Ted Chu says:

    Allowing livestock grazing in a riparian conservation area is an oxymoron.

  4. avatar Yvette says:

    George, thank you for informing us about this issue. The SW is getting hit hard enough and if the Trump wall goes in, we can add that atrocity to the habitat.

  5. avatar John R says:

    Much worth Saving!!!!!!

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Quote

‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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