Southern Arizona Environmental Leaders Welcome Saguaro Expansion Bill to Protect Landscapes, Resources from Encroachment and Other Inappropriate Development

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 9, 2013
Contact:   Kevin Dahl, Arizona Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, (o) 520-624-2014, (c) 520-603-6430, kdahl@npca.org
Bob Newtson, Executive Director, Friends of Saguaro National Park, 520-733-8610 fosnp@friendsofsaguaro.org
Ivy Schwartz, President, Tucson Mountain Association, 520-743-4251, ischwartz3211@cox.net
Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, 520-629-0525


Southern Arizona Environmental Leaders Welcome Saguaro Expansion Bill to Protect Landscapes, Resources from Encroachment and Other Inappropriate Development

All Landowners Inside Proposed Expanded Boarders Seek to Have Their Properties Protected and Added to Park

TUCSON, AZ — Concerned about the increasing threat of incompatible development along the edges of Saguaro National Park, environmental leaders in southern Arizona are praising legislation introduced today that would expand the borders of the park by more than 2,500 acres. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Tucson Mountains Association, and Friends of Saguaro National Park all praised the bill. The Saguaro National Park Boundary Expansion and Study Act of 2013 was introduced today by Arizona Representatives Ron Barber, Raul Grijalva and Ann Kirkpatrick. The legislation has no immediate costs and the private landowners whose property would fall into the new boundaries welcome the protections the bill would offer their properties.

“This legislation will help maintain the beauty and integrity of Saguaro National Park for all who love it and for the enjoyment of future generations,” said NPCA Arizona Program Manager Kevin Dahl. “It is a commonsense move to protect this beloved treasure from inappropriate development on properties that are contiguous with the current park boundaries and are currently owned by private individuals who desire their own land to be someday added to the greater park.”

“Saguaro National Park is a Southern Arizona treasure,” said Ivy Schwartz, President of the Tucson Mountains Association. “We applaud the proposed expansion of the Park and thank Representatives Grijalva, Barber, and Kirkpatrick for introducing this legislation. As well as preserving valuable new habitat, new additions in the western distinct provide a permanent wildlife corridor from the Saguaro National Park through the Sweetwater Preserve to the Santa Cruz River, greatly enhancing the conservation value of these preserved areas.”

The expansion areas include a variety of unique ecological, geological, hydrological, scenic, historical, and wildlife components, enhanced by the serenity and rural character of the area. This legislation, which is simply the act of Congress expanding the park’s geographic boundaries, is the first step for protecting these lands. After the boundaries have been expanded, the privately owned parcels can then be added by donation, trade, or purchase, using a special fund made up of fees assessed on offshore oil and gas drilling leases.

“Saguaro National Park is an important ecological and national treasure that contains not only the iconic giant saguaro cactus but an incredible diversity of other wildlife species,” said Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director of Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. “It also serves as a critical protected area for Sonoran Desert wildlife near the large metropolitan area of Tucson.”

“This no cost legislation will open the door for these lands to be either purchased or donated to the park at a later date and to then be immediately added to the park without any additional legislation,” said Bob Newtson, Executive Director of Friends of Saguaro National Park. “This measure is greatly appreciated by everyone who has enjoyed the immense beauty of Saguaro National Park. We ask Congress to approve this legislation in a timely manner so the future of Saguaro National Park remains secure.”

National Parks Conservation Association has for more than 90 years been America’s leading advocacy group for National Parks.  Tucson Mountains Association, founded in 1934, is Arizona’s oldest homeowners association and works to preserve and provide for the scenic quality of the area.  Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection works in Pima County to create a community where: ecosystem health is protected; nature and healthy wild animal populations are valued; and residents, visitors, and future generations can all drink clean water, breathe clean air, and find wild places to roam. Friends of Saguaro National Park is the not-for-profit fundraising partner of the National Park Service at Tucson’s Saguaro National Park, working to help the public discover, protect, and support the Park.



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