National Conservation Lands video on Assignment: Earth

Here’s a great little video describing America’s National Conservation Lands, the system of special places I work to protect.

To support the great people working hard to protect America’s natural and cultural heritage, please check out the Conservation Lands Foundation.

Celebrate 10 years of Ironwood Forest National Monument this Saturday

This Saturday, I’m headed down towards Tucson for what is sure to be a great event. The Friends of Ironwood Forest are hosting a celebration marking the 10-year anniversary of Ironwood Forest National Monument and the National Conservation Lands (also known by its more cumbersome name, the National Landscape Conservation System).

There’s still time to get in on the event—you can even register online.

Ironwood Forest National Monument is one of those places that you may not have been to—or even heard of, for that matter—but which protects important aspects of what makes Arizona great, from the classic Sonoran Desert saguaro forests to rugged desert mountain views to prehistoric ruins and historic artifacts.

So come join us on Saturday. You’ll learn more about makes Ironwood Forest National Monument worthy of protection and you’ll hear about some inspiring work the local Friends of Ironwood Forest are doing.

Here’s the event press release:

Local Volunteers to Mark 10th Anniversary of Ironwood Forest

Congressman Grijalva and Noted Author to Take Part in Celebration

Wednesday, June 2, Tucson, AZ — Friends of Ironwood Forest will host the official 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Ironwood Forest National Monument on Saturday, June 5th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m, with special guests Congressman Raul Grijalva and noted Sonoran Desert author Gary Nabhan.

The Monument is part of the National Landscape Conservation System, a collection of some of the country’s most scenic, historic, natural and cultural sites known as the National Conservation Lands.  Friends of Ironwood Forest, a local volunteer-based, non-profit group, provides critical support to protect and promote the Monument while working to educate the public about its extraordinary natural treasures.

Ironwood Forest, located 25 miles northwest of Tucson in southern Arizona, was created in 2000 to protect the amazing cultural and biological resources found in the area.  The Monument contains more than 129,000 acres of Sonoran Desert habitat and includes the Silver Bell, Sawtooth and Waterman Mountain Ranges.  Named for the unique desert Ironwood tree, the site has an astounding diversity of plant and animal life.

Ironwood Forest NM is an example of the many places within the National Conservation Lands that are home to rare plants and animals and Native American sites.  These lands offer a national connection to the last places where one can experience the history and beauty of the American West.

Ironwood’s 10th anniversary celebration will be held at the Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, 4949 W. Heritage Club Blvd., Marana, AZ 85658.  For more information on Friends of Ironwood Forest and the anniversary event, visit www.ironwoodforest.org.

Perry Mesa exhibit at Pueblo Grande Museum

Here’s a great opportunity to learn more about Agua Fria National Monument without making the drive up there.

From the BLM:

BLM Partners with Museum, ASU, and Tonto National Forest on Perry Mesa Exhibit:
Agua Fria National Monument staff have been working with the Pueblo Grande Museum, Arizona State University (ASU) researchers, Tonto National Forest officials, and others to help develop a Museum exhibit about Perry Mesa. Perry Mesa is the dominant geographic feature in the Agua Fria National Monument. The 50,000-acre Perry Mesa National Register District, which spans the Monument and part of the adjacent Tonto National Forest, was designated to recognize the significance and extent of the archaeology on Perry Mesa. Originally designated in 1975, the District was expanded in 1996 and is now one of the largest prehistoric districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The exhibit will highlight the history, ecology, rock art “petroglyphs,” artifacts, and pueblo ruins in the area, and their connections to the entire central Arizona landscape and other cultures. The nearly 3,000 square foot exhibit opens March 5, 2010, and will be on display for one year at the Pueblo Grande Museum.

Your voice needed on HCR2040 to save Arizona State Parks

Below is an important action alert about Arizona State Parks from the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. This is an important opportunity to save our state parks from closure. Please do your part!

You can also send a quick message through their website.

This bill would add a $9 surcharge onto the annual vehicle registration fees, which would generate enough money to maintain and operate our state park system. In return, Arizona-registered vehicles would be able to enter state parks for free. It’s a good deal, and while I’d love to see the Arizona Legislature fully fund the parks system from the general fund, this appears to be the most politically-viable alternative.

HCR2040 sustainable state parks fund (Jones, Brown, Ch. Campbell, et al) refers to the ballot a measure to allow free day use of all of our State Parks for a fee on every vehicle registration. The funds would be administered by the State Parks Board to operate and maintain parks. With a nine dollar fee, Parks can generate approximately $39 million per year which would provide the necessary dollars for operation and maintenance.

The bill will be heard in the House Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee on Thursday around 2pm in House Hearing Room 5.

PLEASE COME TO THE HEARING, EMAIL LEGISLATORS, SIGN IN ON THE REQUEST TO SPEAK SYSTEM, OR ALL OF THE ABOVE. ASK MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES AND RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT HCR2040!

Members of the Committee include representatives:

[Click here to email them all at once]

To sign in for Request to Speak, go to http://alistrack.azleg.gov/rts/login.asp and then enter your user name and password (remember this has to be set up at the legislature the first time and I can do that for you, but need for you to let me know what you would like to use for your user name and password). Click on House of Representatives and then hit login. Click on “Agenda Search,” then enter the bill number “HCR2040.” Click on “Begin Search.” You should see HCR2040 come up. Click on “Choose Bill.” You can then click on “for” the bill and indicate whether or not you wish to speak. If you are not going to be there, then you will want to leave it as the default, which is “no.” If you are going to be there, please consider speaking in favor of the bill and click on “yes.” One other thing, the default will be that you are speaking for yourself. If you are not listed as an authorized lobbyist for your organization, then you should just speak on behalf of yourself — that is more effective many times anyway.

Here’s the full text of the bill, as it currently stands:

HCR 2040
1 Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the
2 Senate concurring:
3 1. Under the power of the referendum, as vested in the Legislature,
4 the following measure, relating to a sustainable state parks fund, is enacted
5 to become valid as a law if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the
6 Governor:
7 AN ACT
8 AMENDING TITLE 41, CHAPTER 3, ARTICLE 1.1, ARIZONA REVISED
9 STATUTES, BY ADDING SECTION 41-511.17; RELATING TO THE ARIZONA
10 STATE PARKS BOARD.
11 Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:
12 Section 1. Title 41, chapter 3, article 1.1, Arizona
13 Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 41-511.17, to
14 read:
15 41-511.17. Sustainable state parks fee; sustainable state
16
17 A. AT THE TIME OF VEHICLE REGISTRATION, EVERY PERSON WHO
18 IS REQUIRED TO REGISTER A MOTOR VEHICLE IN THIS STATE PURSUANT
19 TO SECTION 28-2153 SHALL PAY, IN ADDITION TO THE REGISTRATION
20 FEE, AN ANNUAL SUSTAINABLE STATE PARKS FEE OF NINE DOLLARS.
21 THIS SUBSECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO THE REGISTRATION OF A
22 COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE AS DEFINED IN SECTION 28-601.
23 B. THE REGISTERING OFFICER SHALL COLLECT THE SUSTAINABLE
24 STATE PARKS FEES AND IMMEDIATELY DEPOSIT, PURSUANT TO SECTIONS
25 35-146 AND 35-147, THE FEES IN THE SUSTAINABLE STATE PARKS FUND
26 ESTABLISHED BY SUBSECTION C OF THIS SECTION.
27 C. THE SUSTAINABLE STATE PARKS FUND IS ESTABLISHED
28 CONSISTING OF FEES DEPOSITED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. THE
29 ARIZONA STATE PARKS BOARD SHALL ADMINISTER THE FUND. MONIES IN
30 THE FUND ARE CONTINUOUSLY APPROPRIATED. THE ARIZONA STATE PARKS
31 BOARD SHALL USE THESE MONIES TO OPERATE, MAINTAIN AND MAKE
32 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS TO STATE PARKS.
33 D. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY OTHER LAW, THE ARIZONA STATE PARKS
34 BOARD SHALL NOT CHARGE A FEE FOR THE DAY USE OF STATE PARKS TO A
35 MOTOR VEHICLE DISPLAYING A LICENSE PLATE ISSUED PURSUANT TO
36 TITLE 28. THIS SUBSECTION DOES NOT PREVENT THE ARIZONA STATE
37 PARKS BOARD FROM CHARGING A FEE FOR SPECIAL SERVICES, INCLUDING
38 TOURS AND OVERNIGHT CAMPING.
39 2. The Secretary of State shall submit this proposition to the voters
40 at the next general election as provided by article IV, part 1, section 1,
41 Constitution of Arizona.

Free tour of Ironwood Forest National Monument—Mar 20

Ragged Top, Ironwood Forest National Monument

Friends of Ironwood Forest and the Bureau of Land Management invite you to a

Free Tour of the Ironwood Forest National Monument
on Saturday, March 20

Spend a day in one of southern Arizona’s most treasurered landscapes as we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Ironwood Forest National Monument. Throughout the tour, BLM speakers and resource specialists will share the history and cultural heritage within the Monument, as well as highlight the diverse vegetation and wildlife surrounding the Ironwood trees, for which the Monument was named. Limited seats available; please register by March 8.

Schedule of activities

Saturday, March 20, 2010
8 a.m. – Meet at Cortaro Rd. & I-10 Park and Ride Lot. Exit 246.
9:30 a.m. – Visit base of Ragged Top
11:30 a.m. – Depart for lunch and desert hike.
12 p.m. – Lunch (Bring your own), then desert hike OR drive to historic Silver Bell Cemetary (45 minute drive).
3:30 p.m. – Arrive at Cortaro Rd. & I-10 Park and Ride.

Directions and transportation

Free transportation from Park & Ride will be provided. From Tucson, take I-10 west. Take exit 246 and turn west (left) at N. Cortaro Rd. Your first right enters into the McDonald’s parking lot and the park and ride.

Register now

Click here to register for this free event. Tour size is limited and filling quickly. [update: the tour is full, but there is a waiting list; you can also ask about additional opportunities to tour the Monument from Lahsha below]

For more information

Lahsha Brown
Friends of Ironwood Forest
lahsha@ironwoodforest.org
520-628-2092

IFNM 10th Anniversary Tour Invitation

Restore a native grassland and an historic trail this weekend

There are two great volunteer opportunities this week in National Conservation Lands here in Arizona. If you have some time, please consider getting involved. Check out the Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona to register.

Las Cienegas NCA Road Closure and Restoration Weekend

Feb 19 – Feb 21

Experience a lush desert grassland just an hour southeast of Tucson in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. We will be out there closing and re-habilitating roads identified by the BLM in the Resource Management Plan for closure.

Work will include using hand tools to break up and re-vegetate the road surface. There are a variety of tasks available from light planting work to heavy lifting and shoveling. Sky Island Alliance will provide the training and materials needed to do the field work. You will need to bring everything you need for 2 days/nights of car camping. Everyone is responsible for his or her own meals and you are welcome to use our stove set up and/or grill. Don’t forget the basics such as food, water, rain gear, tent and a sleeping bag. Another option is just come out to help for one day (Saturday). Please send a response email for further information. Schedule: Friday -meet in camp in the pm, somebody from SIA will be there by 5pm Saturday -work all day, campfire at night Sunday -work through the afternoon and then head home by 2 or 3 pm.

Difficulty Rating: Moderate
Minimum Age: None
Age Group: All Ages
Max Group Size: 1
Volunteers Needed: 20
Contact Person: Sarah Williams
sarah@skyislandalliance.org 520-624-7080 x23

Historic Anza Trail Restoration in Sonoran Desert National Monument

Feb 20, 2010

Anza Trail Coalition, Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona Wilderness Coalition and the Sierra Club are sponsoring this event to have volunteers restore a portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail that was damaged by off-road vehicle use within Sonoran Desert National Monument.

Volunteers will restore areas damaged by off-road vehicle use. The restoration work will include digging, scraping, and raking to breakup compacted soils and obliterate vehicle tracks. The work requires the use of basic hand tools designed for trail maintenance—Pulaski, McCleod, steel-tined rake, and shovel. Work difficulty ranges from easy to challenging. There will be some native plant relocation activities. Volunteers are advised to wear sturdy shoes and dress appropriately for working outdoors. Please bring work gloves and a water bottle or canteen. There will be campsites available for those to choose to camp. A volunteer information sheet and map are available.

Difficulty Rating: Moderately Easy
Minimum Age: None
Age Group: All Ages
Max Group Size: 10
Volunteers Needed: 50
Contact Person: Thomas Hulen
thom@sonorandesertfriends.org (602) 619-9717

Environmental Day at the Arizona State Capitol: Rally for State Parks on Feb 1

Update: Here’s a quick review of what happened and a pdf fact sheet about the state park cuts.

There’s a very important event happening tomorrow: the annual Environmental Day at the Legislature. This is a great opportunity for citizens to show support for smart conservation policy through direct citizen lobbying. This year, the event will highlight the grave budget cuts to our already decimated state parks system.

Here’s the original Sierra Club announcement:

Save Arizona! Save our Future!
Rally for Parks and Conservation
Environmental Day at the Capitol

Monday, February 1, 2010
10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Arizona House of Representatives lawn
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix

What you’ve heard is true: the legislature is devastating parks funding, forcing more closures. We need to speak up for Parks! Join us on Monday, February 1, 2010 for Environmental Day at the Arizona State Capitol, located at 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix. . We will have a brief program on the House Lawn. Speakers will focus on the devastation to parks and environmental programs from the last legislative session and let us know how we can turn the tide. Please bring a brown bag lunch to enjoy while listening to the speakers. We will provide tables and chairs, drinks, and cookies for dessert. We will try to time it so we can go inside and be introduced from the floor as a group. Let’s try to make a strong showing.

We also encourage everyone to attend committee hearings and meet with individual legislators. Hearings for the House and Senate Natural Resource committees meet that afternoon. The best time to meet with legislators is prior to 11am or after 1pm. We can help you set up appointments, give you information on how to set them up, provide background information, and also team you up with someone, if that is your preference. It is important that they hear from you. No experience is needed – just enthusiasm and a willingness to speak up. For more information or to r.s.v.p. contact Sandy Bahr at (602) 253-8633 or sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org Please let us know if you plan to attend, so we can be sure and have enough packets, snacks, and drinks.

If you want to stay abreast of what’s happening at the Arizona Legislature, I highly recommend the Sierra Club’s Arizona Bill Tracker.