News & Media
Press Release Santa Cruz County
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 12, 2008
Louise Misztal, Sky Island Alliance
520-624-7080 x 20
Doug Moore, Education Director, Friends of Madera Canyon, 520-682-0459
Jeff Williamson, President of Arizona Zoological Society
The Coronado Planning Partnership is releasing a report entitled State of the Coronado National Forest: An Assessment and Recommendations for the 21st Century. This report examines the history, natural history, current conditions, and threats to the Coronado National Forest. The report was put together with the help of over 600 individual volunteers, scientists, regional experts, landowners, and others.
The report is being released to coincide with the Coronado National Forest’s series of Open Houses which are focused on revisions to the Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. An Open House in the Nogales Ranger District will be held in Rio Rico on Monday November 17. A link to Coronado NF’s media advisory is provided below.
The Planning Partnership is releasing the report as a draft and is seeking public comment and feedback, which will enrich this report with further information about current conditions on the Forest. The report is available via the Sky Island Action Center website, http://www.skyislandaction.org/state_of_coronado.html
“The Coronado Planning Partnership looks forward to a dialog with the Forest Service and our community that builds understanding and ways of implementing mitigation tools and Forest health strategies as identified in the State of the Coronado National Forest, ”said Jeff Williamson, President of the Arizona Zoological Society. “We are living through a period of rapid, complex, and unprecedented change. We owe it to future generations to manage our affairs in ways that ensure the future is blessed with a Forest capable of providing essential ecological services as well as habitat and an aesthetic that supports rich and diverse life.”
The State of the Coronado National Forest is the collective vision of the Coronado Planning Partnership whose groups represent over 300, 000 people. These diverse interests have found common ground in the forest planning process and have joined forces to promote the protection of wild species, their habitats, and ecological communities, as well as the processes that sustain them. “The Coronado National Forest encompasses a significant portion of SE Arizona's Sky Island mountain ranges. These amazing mountains are so scenic and biologically diverse that they form, for me, the most fascinating region in the United States” said Doug Moore, Education Director of Friends of Madera Canyon. “The Coronado deserves our utmost attention, consideration and care; in the past, our "land of many uses" often became a land abused. I believe that it is a national obligation to protect, conserve and restore this public land. The Coronado is an irreplaceable natural heritage for present and future generations. It provides considerable economic benefit supporting local communities through ecotourism. Our responsibility is to change focus, to make our foot-print small and insignificant, allowing these wildlands to flourish for their own immense intrinsic value, simply because they exist."
Revision of the Forest Plan will shape the future management and enjoyment of this treasured region for years to come. The Coronado Planning Partnership is focused on three primary issues addressed by forest planning:
- Quiet Recreation
- Special Interest Area proposals
- Wilderness Suitability and acreage
The majority of visitors to the Coronado Forest participate in quiet recreation and seek opportunities for solitude. However, these experiences are becoming harder to find due to the rapidly growing population of southern Arizona and concurrent explosion of motorized recreation. “We need to be more serious about protecting our National Forests and keeping them quiet and free of pollution. With the increase in population and motorized recreation in Southeast Arizona, the quiet pristine forests we value are slowly disappearing” said Louise Misztal, a Conservation Biologist, with the Sky Island Alliance. “Through the Forest Planning process, the Coronado has the chance to ensure that future generations can experience the incredible landscapes and natural wonders of the Forest.”
The extraordinary characteristics of the Tumacacori and Santa Rita Mountains warrant the designation of two new Special Interest Areas. Aliso Spring Riparian Preserve would protect a population of lowland leopard frogs. The proposed Rosemont Valley Historical Area encompasses 621 sites that reflect Native American use and occupation of the area over many thousands of years, and that reflect historical uses of the area.
Many areas of the Forest remain rugged and wild and are a cornerstone for protecting biological diversity and ecosystem resiliency, and for providing primitive recreation opportunities. As development brings more people to the Forest, quiet, pristine areas on the Forest deserve protection. As part of the Forest Plan revision process, the Coronado National Forest is required to study areas of potential wilderness. Through regional experts and on-the-ground analysis the Planning Partnership has identified nearly 140, 000 acres in the Nogales Ranger District, as being suitable for wilderness.