Safeguarding Arizona’s San Pedro River

Feeder crowd_SanPedroHouse-AZ_LAH_4272If you have ever visited and looked for birds, herps, insects, plants, or the elusive jaguar along the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona, please consider taking a few minutes to share your experiences there with the Army Corps of Engineers. I realize that some of you do not often get involved with conservation issues, but I believe this is a great opportunity to do so–and it only takes a few minutes.

A permit for a 20,000-residence development (8,212 acres) near the San Pedro River in Benson, AZ was first issued in 2006, but eventually suspended. The permit is now being revisited by the Army Corps for potential reinstatement. This time around, the permit is 50% larger, written for 29,400 units (12,817 acres). Additional plans include shops, restaurants, 5(!) golf courses and 30 “recreation buildings,” the largest of which will be 40,000 square-feet. It goes without saying that water is precious in southeastern Arizona and throughout the West. As is, a person can jump across the San Pedro River at some points. Nonetheless, the river provides an impressive cottonwood-willow riparian habitat, and serves as an annual migration corridor for 4 million birds of 250 species. Over 100 species of birds breed along the river. Wells in the upper San Pedro Valley already withdraw an estimated 6,000 acre-feet per year more than is naturally recharged from rainfall and snowmelt. Further development in proximity to the river will only further stress this region’s water table. Please make your comments here by December 4.

Bag Worms_SanPedro-SierraVistaAZ_20100510_LAH_1219The stretch of the San Pedro River between the San Pedro House (near Sierra Vista) and Hereford Road is one of the most incredible locations I have ever birded, and I imagine many of you would agree. While this portion of the river is upstream from the proposed development, the lower San Pedro River is no less spectacular, and healthy connectivity of the riparian corridor is crucial.

I would encourage those of you who have not been there to go experience it for yourselves. And before you do, share your thoughts about why a huge development in such close proximity to the river is a bad idea.

Take a look at this presentation of the issue by Jordan Glenn of Arizona Sonora News. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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