|Issue 4, Winter 2003-04|
This month, AWC staff and wilderness friends around the state bid adieu to our Western Deserts Regional Coordinator, Jay Krienitz, who has worked tirelessly to forge meaningful allies for wilderness protection in his region. Armed with a dash of charm, an illuminating wilderness presentation, and a positive attitude, Jay set off this fall to open doors in the Western Deserts region—known as a popular stomping grounds for off-road vehicle clubs—to the concept of wilderness protection and the work of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition.
“I believe that there is a common appreciation of Arizona’s wild places, regardless of the way we choose to spend our time in them,” says Jay. “Some like to ride dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles, some like to horseback, others like to hike, and some like to just drive by on our Arizona highways and look—but the common bond is that most of us just like to be out there. The commonality between Arizonans is our need to preserve our wild places so that we may continue to enjoy them. Additional wilderness designation on public lands is in the best interest of our society’s needs and the environment that supports us. I only hope that my voice in the wilderness was heard.”
In addition to his work for the Coalition, Jay completed his Master’s in Environmental Studies and Public Land Conservation at Prescott College, producing a thesis on weather or not “previous Arizona BLM Wilderness Inventories are complete or adequate for present society’s social and scientific needs.” Jay will be departing for a much-deserved trip overseas, where he plans to sightsee in Thailand and Southeast Asia.
Wilderness protection will continue in Jay’s absence—under the leadership of Prescott College and one of Jay’s closest field colleagues, Jason Williams. After immersing himself in the wonders of the Far East, Jay plans to return to Arizona for a short while this spring—picking up where he left off his Western Deserts work and covering the Central Mountains-Sonoran region for Jason while he takes a short break.
We will miss Jay’s exuberance, fearlessness, and dedication to wilderness in a region where subtle beauty speaks volumes.
"Jay is a born organizer – the type of person who calls, just out of the blue, to see how you're doing," says AWC's Executive Director Don Hoffman. "As a result, he builds productive relationships in a way that seems very easy, but it's not. I admire this attribute. He definitely has a future in this business."
...and a Special Thanks
A special thanks to Julie Spear, AWC’s Prescott office work study student, who was graduated from Prescott College in December. Julie brought much needed energy and support to AWC’s Prescott office and worked overtime in addition to her academic responsibilities to help out with media and outreach for the Coalition.
One of Julie’s most critical accomplishments was to approach a multitude of businesses and organizations in Arizona that would potentially support wilderness protection and the work of the Coalition. With her help, AWC added a significant and vital component of wilderness advocates to the Coalition’s arsenal of allies. Thank you Julie, and good luck with all your future endeavors!
2004 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1984 Arizona Wilderness Act, which set aside gems such as the Superstition Mountains Wilderness, Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, Munds Mountain Wilderness, Kanab Creek Wilderness, Hellsgate, and Escudilla Wilderness areas. Without this landmark legislation, Arizona would be barren of the natural beauty that marks her as one of the most popular vacation destinations in the West.
2004 also marks the 40th Anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act itself—the federal legislation that created the National Wilderness Preservation System and launched the critical process of safeguarding our most precious and remaining wild lands left in America. The Act was passed "In order to assure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization, does not occupy and modify, all areas within the United States..." We don't know about the rest of you, but in Arizona, we plan to do just that.
Stay tuned to AWC’s website and alerts for upcoming plans and information surrounding the Anniversary in September 2004.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sierra Club in their lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service for its failure to protect the Northern goshawk, an imperiled raptor, from the negative effects of continued logging of old-growth and large trees in National Forests within Arizona and New Mexico. The unanimous opinion, written by Judge Donald J. Pogue, agreed with the plaintiffs that the Forest Service had failed to consider or disclose to the public extensive scientific evidence that the goshawk prefers old-growth and mature forest for breeding and foraging in its development of a regional goshawk management plan.
According to Michael Lozeau, an attorney with Earthjustice, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision requires the Forest Service to re-write the 1996 Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for Eleven Forest Plans.
"The Court ruled that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by omitting important scientific evidence from its Environmental Impact analysis." said Lozeau. "The Forest Service omitted information that refutes the agency's contention that goshawks don't like foraging in old growth forests and that it's okay to cut them down."
This suit is an important milestone in the effort to protect declining goshawk populations and the increasingly rare old-growth forests that they depend upon," stated Brian Segee, Southwest Public Lands Director with CBD. "This decision provides an opportunity for the Forest Service to develop new management direction which allows fuel reduction measures such as prescribed burning and thinning of small-diameter trees to go forward while ensuring that large trees and mature forests are preserved."
Sierra Club Forest Issues Chair, Sharon Galbreath, agreed that the decision will promote better forest health management decisions, especially on the Kaibab National Forest just north of Grand Canyon National Park where conservationists have challenged old-growth logging. According to Forest Service data, 87 % of the trees on National Forest Lands in the Southwest are 12 inches in diameter or smaller. The greatest forest health and fire risks come from small diameter trees, not from the fire resistant old growth trees that the Forest Service continues to log under the guise of providing habitat for the northern goshawk.
“In light of the Court's finding, we urge the Forest Service to vacate their decision to log 7,400 large diameter old-growth trees in goshawk habitat less than three miles from the boundary of Grand Canyon National Park," said Galbreath, speaking of the East Rim timber sale. "The Forest Service cannot continue to ignore solid science that says the goshawk needs old growth and mature forests to survive."
The suit was filed in September 2000 in Federal District Court in Arizona. After the District Court upheld the Forest Service's failure to disclose evidence that disagreed with the agency, plaintiffs appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
At stake in the case are 8 million acres of ponderosa pine habitat in Arizona and New Mexico. The Forest Service goshawk management plan guiding logging operations in these areas was first implemented in 1992 in response to concerns by environmentalists and researchers that goshawks were being harmed by the logging of mature and old-growth trees. Though the plan allowing continued old-growth logging was roundly criticized for by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Interior, Arizona Game and Fish Department, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, U.S. Forest Service biologists, and academic biologists, it was formally adopted by the Forest Service as a permanent plan in 1996. In striking down the plan, the court found that the Forest Service's analysis "completely failed" to "address or refute" these many objections.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CHECK:
The last few months have shown a marked increase in the amount of businesses and conservation organizations that support the mission and actions of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition. In August, Kate Mackay and Julie Spear attended a Conservation Summit in Globe, and subsequent to that meeting, the following groups that had been in attendance became Wilderness Supporters of the AWC:
Also in August, Jason Williams attended the Outdoor Retailers Trade Show and spoke with many outdoor businesses about the AWC’s goals. He received enthusiastic support and was able to secure wilderness support from the following businesses:
The Arizona Wilderness Coalition would like to thank the above businesses and organizations for their support and encourage our members to support these groups and businesses that have put their names behind what we do. In addition, we are always looking to make contacts with other businesses and organizations that support our goals and would like to make a link to us on their web page.
Update by Diana Rhoades, Arizona Wilderness Advocate
A movement is growing to stop the Bush Administration’s attempt to make it easier to pave our public parks and forests through an ancient mining law from 1866 called Revised Statute 2477.
Locally, Arizonans and other westerners have taken action and made a difference on the RS 2477 issue. In July, Arizona Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva cosponsored an amendment to the Interior Department’s spending bill that would have prevented citizen’s tax dollars from being used to process any illegitimate RS 2477 road proposals. Unfortunately, the amendment failed on party lines so now National Parks like the Grand Canyon and National Monuments such as Ironwood remain threatened by road development.
Sportsmen organizations like Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League, National Wildlife Federation and the Wildlife Management Institute weighed in on the national effort to protect prime hunting and fishing grounds from illegitimate RS 2477 road proposals. AJ Chamberlin, a real estate agent from Boulder, CO, is forming a new national property rights group to reach out to Arizonans and others across the country to help homeowners who bought property near public land and then realized there was an old RS 2477 claim on or near their home. The group, Property Owners for Sensible Roads Policy, is advocating for federal legislation to resolve issues on public and private land.
In response to the growing concerns, Colorado Congressman Mark Udall sponsored legislation to address real road claims and iron out the legalities of the Administration’s attack on public lands through RS 2477. Rep. Grijalva is the only Arizona co-sponsor of that legislation, HR 1639. Please contact your local Congressman and elected officials to ask for their support of HR 1639. For more information about the threats to public land from RS 2477, please visit www.highway-robbery.org/.