Grand Canyon Chapter
Fall, upper Verde River
Yavapai Group Newsletter
QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
"I tell you, gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply these lands" John Wesley Powell, 1893.
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SIERRA CLUB ELECTION - PLEASE VOTE
Saturday, December 7, 2013, 6-8 PM
You are invited to the Sierra Club Yavapai Group's annual Holiday Party featuring a potluck dinner and gift exchange. We are providing a main course of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy. Please bring your own plate, utensils, and glass, plus either an appetizer, a salad, a vegetable dish, or a dessert to share. Setup starts at 5 PM. For the optional gift exchange, please limit gift value to no more than $5. An environmental theme is suggested - (humorous or whacky is good). Location: Prescott Canyon Estates Clubhouse (map). RSVP to Tom Slaback at PrescottKid@peoplepc.com or(928)778-4233.
Week of November 17, one day, all day
Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 6 - 8 PM
OTHER MEETINGS & EVENTS
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 10:30 AM - Noon
Monday, November 25, 2013, 6 - 8 PM
DEL RIO SPRINGS
Working in partnership with the Verde Watershed Association, Audubon, Citizens Water Advocacy Group, and the Highlands Center, we have led over 100 citizens on tours of the historic headwaters of the Verde River at Del Rio Springs Ranch. The take home message is that the springs are now at one-tenth of their original flow and six miles of the Verde River is now dry because of groundwater mining in Chino Valley by Prescott and Chino Valley residents. This is a clear and present example of a major future threat to the Verde River caused by groundwater pumping in the Big Chino Valley at the Big Chino Water Ranch.
On a cheery note, our favorite eagles, Delle and Rio, are back home and are working on the nest, so we will postpone any further tours of that area until late spring to prevent disturbance.
VOTING RIGHTS REFERENDUM SUCCESSFUL
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett certified that the Protect Your Right to Vote Committee’s referendum of House Bill 2305 will be on the November 2014 ballot. Bennett confirmed that the Committee gathered just under 111,000 valid signatures -- far eclipsing the necessary 86,405 to qualify -- and that the Committee’s validity rate was an astounding 80 percent. A broad and diverse coalition of more than 25 non-profit civic engagement organizations worked to gather the signatures in just three months after the Legislature narrowly passed the controversial effort to restrict our voting rights.
"ZOMBIE" GRAND CANYON URANIUM MINE HALTED
For the second time in as many decades, operations to open the Canyon uranium mine six miles south of Grand Canyon National Park have been suspended. The Havasupai Tribe, which had previously challenged the mine, and conservation groups have been working to stop this mine because of potential harm to waters and wildlife of Grand Canyon, as well as cultural resources. Pursuant to an agreement with the Havasupai Tribe and conservation groups, and citing “business reasons,” Energy Fuels Resources, Inc. decided to place the mine in non-operational, standby status. Uranium prices have dropped to a five-year low during the last three months. The mine was previously placed on standby in 1992, after uranium prices plunged to record lows. The company resumed shaft–sinking operations in early 2013; the current cessation will last at least until a pending a district court ruling or Dec. 31, 2014.
The mine falls within the million-acre “mineral withdrawal” zone approved by the Obama administration in January 2012 to protect Grand Canyon’s watershed from new uranium mining impacts. The withdrawal prohibits new mining claims and mine development on old claims lacking “valid existing rights” to mine. In April 2012 the Forest Service made a determination that there were valid existing rights for the Canyon mine, and in June it issued a report justifying its decision to allow the mine to open without updating the 27-year-old environmental review.
“It is time to halt this mine — permanently,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “It was a bad idea 27 years ago when the now-dated environmental impact statement was issued, it is a bad idea today, and it will certainly be a bad idea tomorrow. Now we know even more about how much Canyon Mine threatens the water, wildlife and cultural resources of Grand Canyon.”
HUGE LEGAL VICTORY FOR REDROCK WILDERNESS
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) reports that a Utah federal district court just struck down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) land use plan for over 2 million acres of spectacular public lands around the Dirty Devil, Factory Butte, and the Henry Mountains. SUWA Director Scott Groene said "This is the biggest litigation victory in our 30-year history. It is pivotal in our campaign to protect the redrock wilderness."
The BLM’s plan prioritized off-road vehicle (ORV) use above all else. It designated 4,277 miles of dirt trails, tracks, and ghost-routes for ORV travel, ignoring wilderness, archeological resources, and wildlife. Under the court decision, the BLM cannot open routes to ORVs unless it has first conducted site specific archeological inventories and minimized the harm to natural values.
This decision has far-reaching implications. It involved one of the six Bush-era land use plans which together control nearly 5.4 million acres of proposed redrock wilderness. All of them ignored wilderness protection in favor of ORVs and oil and gas drilling. SUWA has challenged all six plans; this was simply the first to be litigated. With this decision, we expect the rest will tumble like dominos in line.
And we can move forward to protect these national public land treasures that make the United States of America unique in the world.
YAVAPAI GROUP NEWS
547 members in Yavapai Group as of September, 2013.
VERDE RIVER FLOW REPORT:
On October 25, the flow at Perkinsville was 15 cfs and the flow at Bear Siding was 18 cfs.
IRON KING SUPERFUND:
Our web site has an updated status report.
We attended the Arizona Wildlife Federation conference in Gilbert to learn about public lands grazing issues. In 2014, many grazing leases will come up for renewal and we want to be prepared.
PRESCOTT NATIONAL FOREST STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE PLAN:
Prescott National Forest (PNF) is beginning an innovative land use planning exercise that will attempt to coordinate management strategies for the landscape, not just for the PNF lands. This is a great idea, so we are participating.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has released proposed rules that designate the yellow-billed cuckoo, the Mexican garter snake, and the narrow-headed garter snake as protected under the Endangered Species Act. When the proposed rules become final, the USFWS will proceed to designate Critical Habitat for this threatened wildlife. All are resident on the upper Verde River. These additions brings the ESA protected species count on the Verde to TEN, which is huge - the Verde is extremely important for Arizona's wildlife.
ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION PLANNING NEW INTERSTATE I-11:
ADOT has held a series of public meetings statewide to gather public input on the new I-11 interstate highway route intended to connect from Nogales to Canada. Tom Slaback is following the issue in an attempt to protect wildlife habitat and wilderness areas from proposed routes in western Arizona. Other Sierra Club groups are guarding the southwestern AZ routes. This highway project is ten years into a planning cycle and there is still no clear, demonstrated need for the road.
The Fall 2013 issue of our chapter newsletter, Canyon Echo, is now available to download!
The Grand Canyon Chapter website is loaded with information:
Actions to Protect the Environment
It is very important to let our political leaders know your concern for environmental protection. The Sierra Club has dozens of petitions to our legislators that are accessible from one web page. Please take a few minutes and sign onto as many as you agree with.
Your local Sierra Club group needs YOUR help! We need more folks to get involved with our efforts to improve our quality of life. We have an impressive list of important projects:
- Monitoring the Iron King Mine cleanup
RENEW your membership in the Sierra Club!
SUBSCRIBE: Yavapai Group email discussions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for subscription.
JOIN & SUPPORT:
PARTICIPATE: Attend our Executive Committee meeting, learn what we're doing, help us out! If you have a special project that is dear to your heart and consistent with Sierra Club goals, we'll help you work on it.
Monitor the Verde River: Our Water Sentinels need help once a month with water flow monitoring of our three sites in the upper Verde River. It is easy, fun, and a great way to spend the day in beautiful surroundings. No experience required, we'll train you. for info or to join us, contact Tom Slaback, email@example.com.
LEARN: about the Verde River! Sign up for one of our informative day hikes.
The Yavapai Group ExComm is composed of four voting members:
This page was last updated on November 12, 2013