Issue 3, Summer 2003

Away into the Woods...

Photo by Jason Williams.
AWC staff stops for a rest along the shady banks
of Fish Creek. Photo: Jason Williams.

Alpine, AZ —In mid-June, we escaped to the hills of eastern Arizona for our annual staff retreat. At a rustic hideaway along the banks of Dry Blue Creek—which also doubles as the home and office of AWC Executive Director Don Hoffman and his wife Jane—the Coalition (and their canine friends) found time to take a deep breath and strategize for tackling wilderness protection in the coming year. So far, 2003 has been a tough year for wilderness advocates:

•  The recent settlement between Gale Norton and the state of Utah effectively wipes out the Bureau of Land Management’s ability to designate wilderness, not only in Utah, but also around the nation.

•  Anti-wilderness delegates in Congress are using backdoor tactics to attempt to remove the Colorado River from wilderness protection at Grand Canyon National Park.

•  An obsolete mining law is being used to grant right-of-way claims over public lands by private landowners, towns, counties, and other entities, which expedite these often bogus claims into actual bulldozing, paving, and clearing of our national treasures.

Our work is clearly laid out for us. We are ready to challenge our wilderness opponents with clear goals and effective approaches that will garner widespread public support across social, political, and economic lines.

We will not be deterred by the short-term views of a bureaucratic minority. The majority of Americans support protection of our public lands, including the designation and expansion of wilderness.

Kim Crumbo makes his way along Fish Creek trail. Photo by Jason Williams.
Kim Crumbo along the trail.
Photo: Jason Williams

After a refreshing hike along Fish Creek in the Blue Range Primitive Area and an abundance of delicious home-cooked food at Don’s “Rancho Relaxo,” AWC staff sat down to strengthen our game plan. Given the current dismal situation in Washington, three main campaigns emerged as pivotal to the defense of Arizona’s wilderness:

•  We will continue to inventory and advocate for the protection of wilderness eligible lands that are within our national monuments and roadless areas, despite the rollbacks against the Bureau of Land Management at the hands of the Bush Administration

•  We will continue and broaden our support for wilderness designation at the Colorado River at Grand Canyon National Park, for its symbolism and embodiment of wilderness in American minds.

•  Wherever we are advocating for new wilderness areas, we must reach out to non-traditional allies and supporters in business, education, faith, and Hispanic communities.

Photo by Jane Hoffman.

AWC will be joining a major campaign with the Sky Island Alliance to secure the Tumacacori Mountains as wilderness in the Sky Island region, building on the support and positive energy from our ally in Congress, Raul M. Grijalva. We also plan to develop a Speakers’ Bureau that will pull volunteers and wilderness advocates together permeating Arizona communities with public presentations on the benefits and value of wilderness to Arizona and its quality of life.

Loca. Photo by Kate Mackay.

We plan to sharpen and continue our work in each of the four regions of Arizona, reaching out to our members and friends when we need help inventorying, writing letters, or restoring trails. Such interaction builds confidence in our work and power in our supporters. There is comfort and strength in numbers.

  The trip to the Blue Range is over, but our energy and vision for what lies ahead for wilderness is stronger and more positive than ever. Thank you for your continuing support of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition.

Executive Director