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Posts Tagged ‘Rosemont Mine’

29th May
written by Land Lawyer

Arizona Illustrated did a piece on Rosemont mine and Davidson Canyon quarry HERE. All the stops are being pulled out on this one, including getting the Santa Cruz river registered as navigable.

Incidentally the other ‘navigable’ waterway being challenged is the cement river bed in LA used for the chase scenes in the Terminator series.  Terminator riverbed clip.

At what point does this insanity stop?

The comment in the AZ Illustrated piece from the Cal Portland representative says it all. Davidson Canyon has been an on and off active quarry for years. Rosemont has been a mine for over 70 years.

It reminds me of the story of the neighbor that called DM Air Force Base to complain about the loud jets flying over head.  The base representative reminded the neighbor that the base has been an active facility since the 1940’s and asked when the neighbor moved into the area. The complaining resident stated that he bought the house 3 years ago because he got a great deal on it.

How about a few high paying jobs guys? How about raw materials for cement production closer than New Mexico? Call me crazy.

26th February
written by Arizona Kid

Twenty-five years back, there were a clutch of prime mantras among the activist set: Growth could be stopped. Cattle-grazing was archaic. Mining was a goner. Developers could be battled to a standstill, and the Pusch Ridge bighorns would tough it out.Today, folks who built below Pusch Ridge adore the foothills wildlife–until it nibbles their bougainvillea. More habitat has vanished from this county than perhaps ever existed in some states. Cows are now seen as bulwarks against bulldozers. As for bighorn sheep, well, somebody figures they might have seen a footprint up beyond those pretty cul-de-sacs sometime back.

Growth has continued at freakish levels, although a crashing real estate market offers some hope. Still, even wayward water supplies haven’t truly threatened this juggernaut; the housing industry, along with local government, still huddles under the Central Arizona Project’s rippling chimera.

Yet time marches on. And some iconic battles from those days–stopping the UA telescopes on Mount Graham, for example, or blocking developer Don Diamond’s Rocking K Ranch exurb–weren’t exactly won, but they weren’t totally lost, either.

The Mount Graham mountaintop telescopes are nearly due for review by the Coronado National Forest, and UA astronomers may lack the political muscle of yesteryear. Diamond did toss a few acreage bones to Saguaro National Park East, and bankrolled the Rincon Institute to cope with what his avarice had wrought.

Meanwhile, some things have actually improved. Though our fair city has plumped beyond reason, one recent UA analysis reveals that Arizona’s population grew by a measly 1.6 percent in the last year, the lowest rate since the blistering recession in the 1990s.

And although we’ve had decades to ponder the mine tailings south of Tucson (“Manmade Mountains!” one real estate brochure enthused), citizens are tightly organized against a new mine proposed for Rosemont Valley in the Santa Rita Mountains.

So there is reason to hope. Indeed, tempered optimism is raison d’ètre among most conservationists. Among them is Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. Campbell’s coalition has been knee-deep in prodding Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (one true victory-in-progress) down the road to reality.

Since its late 1990s inception as a wildlife-protection blueprint, the project has spent roughly $120 million from a voter-approved bond to purchase or lease more than 160,000 acres.

To Campbell, that 2004 bond–when citizens earmarked nearly $175 million to buy open space–was a turning point. “In Pima County, people have always been working on protecting open space,” she says, “and we’ve had open-space bonds for the last 20 years. But the big difference is the planning and scientific effort that went into this endangered-species project. The open space we targeted was key habitat for particular species, along with connectivity between some of the already preserved areas. So there was a little bit of method to the madness.

“It’s why there’s still a lot of support from the conservation community, and, I believe, the community at large,” Campbell says. “We’ve had the best available science behind the plan, and not politics. But what is different now is that we have the political will among citizens. Before, it was like beating our heads against the wall.”

Gayle Hartmann has also been in the trenches for eons, including a stint on the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission. She now heads Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a group fighting the proposed Rosemont mine. Hartmann heralds the addition of Sharon Bronson and Ray Carroll to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Bronson was elected to the board in 1996, representing District 3; Carroll was appointed to represent District 4 a year later, and formally elected in 1998. Finally, says Hartmann, “there was a majority on the board that was really interested in conservation.”

Both supervisors championed open-space preservation, and Carroll has fought the proposed Rosemont mine with a notable vengeance. In 2007, he garnered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Outstanding Achievement award.

Equally notable is a shift among Green Valley constituents in District 4 who support him. “Twenty years ago, Green Valley was always against any type of open space,” says Hartmann, “and that’s completely changed. I don’t know if it’s because there are more people there, or if the people there are somewhat different. But his district–although they may be politically conservative in some ways–now seems very concerned about environmental issues.”

That concern has been critical in efforts to limit Santa Cruz Valley growth, including the vastly scaled-down Canoa Ranch development. Many Green Valley dwellers have also been bare-knuckle opponents of the Augusta mine.

Another positive change, says Hartmann, “is that we don’t have quite as nasty a war between the pro-growth and no-growth sides. To some degree, I guess the pro-growthers won. But at the same time, I think there’s a much better understanding of the need to do preservation and see that we have enough water.”

Roger Featherstone, a longtime anti-mining activist, has likewise been in the fray for years. Today, he relishes the heat generated against Canadian-owned Augusta Resource Corp., the mining company hoping to gut Rosemont Valley. He’s also guardedly cheered about legislation sifting through Congress to reform the despised 1872 Mining Act. This antiquated law gives mining companies such as Augusta near carte blanche in laying claim to public lands.

“Tucson has become a lot more conservation-minded in the last 20 years,” Featherstone says, “and I think that really shows in the Rosemont fight. You now have to look long and hard to find anybody who’s in favor of that mine.

“People understand,” he says, “that Tucson has different values now when it comes to raping and pillaging the land than they did 20 years ago.”

Despite that positive shift, says Featherstone, conservationists now face an unexpected foe: themselves. “Twenty-five years ago, when we were all here fighting, we worked really hard, and we had some successes and some real disappointments. But the pace wasn’t nearly so frenetic. We had time to sit on a porch at night with buddies and drink beer.

“But now we’ve really gotten into this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ syndrome, where we’re running twice as fast, and we’re still falling behind. I think the conservation community has to take a serious look at the fact that they’re working twice as hard and getting a lot less done–with a lot more stress and a lot more unhappiness.

“If I could start a new environmental trend,” he half-chuckles, “it would be modeled on the slow-food movement.”

So does long and languid dining offer any tantalizing hints for Tucson’s environmental future? We’ll pop a beer, gnaw a few pretzels and get back to you on that in about 25 years.

8th December
written by madge

The Santa Cruz river’s recent ruling as navigable brings a whole slew of federal regulations down upon the government and building community.  The Santa Cruz which starts in the San Fernando Valley west of Seirra Vista travels down to Sonora Mexico then back up to the west Tucson area. The river looses steam north of Tubac and is re-fed water using the Pima County sewer systems effluent fed waste water discharge. 

There was a move under foot to classify it at a ‘navigable water way’ which puts a number of federal requirements around anyone looking to build over, near or around the federal designated water way.  The practical applications of the Santa Cruz river being navigable are laughable. Click HERE to see an AZ Star’s reporter, Tony Davis’ attempt to canoe down the ‘river’.

Some have eluded that the navigable designation is an end around way to limit the possibility of Rosemont Copper Mine of ever opening. The unintended consequence may be additional cost put on the taxpayers of Pima County to build bridges to cross over the navigable water way. Maybe draw bridges will become a part of our desert landscape.

Erica Meltzer ran a story HERE explaining the ramifications of the ruling.

Home-builder organizations fought hard against treating streams with intermittent flows, like the Santa Cruz, as navigable waters. Reached Thursday, representatives of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders said they were unaware of the decision.
SAHBA Vice President Roger Yohem said his organization could not comment until its lawyers reviewed the decision.
Environmentalists and some elected officials believe Pima County also lobbied against the designation to prevent a drawn-out permitting process from slowing down county construction projects.
That feeling eased only after the Board of Supervisors in August passed a resolution supporting the designation. County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said county staff only wanted timely decisions on permits, and he cleared staff of any inappropriate actions.
Huckelberry said Thursday the decision is “fine and what we asked for.”
Supervisor Richard Elías, who pushed for the county to support the designation, said he was pleased but the county needs to keep pushing for the entire river to be protected.
Carolyn Campbell, executive director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, lobbied for the designation and wants the entire Santa Cruz eventually to be protected.
“This was really good news to have back the protections that we lost when the Corps rescinded the designation,” Campbell said. “I see this as an important interim step while they study whether the rest of the river should have this protection. I’m very hopeful for the whole river to get the traditional navigable waterway, but with this, all the tributaries should be protected because they all eventually touch these two portions.”
Some of the comments to the Star’s online story:
10. Comment by wit w. (Wit) — December 5,2008 @ 6:04AM
Ratings:   -15 +33

‘navigability’ clouds the issue here. What matters is that our ground water recharge comes mostly from these river beds. Rivers here rarely carry pollutants out to the ocean, unlike most rivers in the world. Instead, the pollutants sink into the soil and then we may drink them.

The Rosemont mine must be stopped for this reason alone. Polluted runoff from the mine would drain right into the Pontano Wash, Rillito River, and then the Santa Cruz.


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18. Comment by ralfie 1. (ralfie12) — December 5,2008 @ 7:08AM

Ratings:   -17 +9
 There is 91 cubic miles of underground water between San Manuel and Strawberry, AZ.Larger than Lake Erie! I have suggested numerous times that we pipe it to Reddington Pass and recharge our aquifer. Water experts say we have no room for it. When will we? 

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51. Comment by John H. (Chaos Keep) — December 5,2008 @ 11:40AM

Ratings:   -8 +2
 I agree that particular portions of the Santa Cruz River need to be protected. However, the intent of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act was for COMMERCIAL NAVAGABILITY. The Santa Cruz River is not, and has not been commercially navagabile for 10,000 years or more.This is a clear cut case where for the government (and others) the ENDS are justifying the MEANS. That is never a good sign. 

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55. Comment by E H. (EanieMeanie) — December 5,2008 @ 12:17PM

Ratings:   -8 +6
 Every bridge, bank stabilization, road crossing, road widening, culvert, and home development, within jurisdictional waters will now require additional scrutiny. You might say that people shouldn’t build in a waterway anyways. Well wait and see what the Army Corps thinks is jurisditional waters. If the wash is wider than your hands stretched out……it’s jurisdictional. And since the Santa Cruz is now a navigatable waterway, any disturbance in the washes near it will be considered significant…. Have fun! Good luck in aleviating traffic by building bridges. ‘Cause you do not have the budget for additional red tape. 

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Navigable Timeline from the Star:

Navigability timeline

• June 2006: The U.S. Supreme Court limits the scope of Clean Water Act protection for isolated rivers, streams and wetlands. Justice Anthony Kennedy writes that they must have a significant connection to “a navigable waterway, in the traditional sense,” to be legally entitled to federal protection.

• May 2008: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decides that 54 miles of the Santa Cruz River north and south of Tucson deserve classification as a traditional navigable waterway, and, thus, regulation under the Clean Water Act.

• July 2008: The Corps suspends the river’s navigable determination for at least 60 days as part of a broader, national review of navigability.

• July 2008: The Pima County Board of Supervisors votes to conduct an audit of its own staff because memos show some staffers opposed the navigability status without telling the board.

• August 2008: Two U.S. House committee chairmen vote to investigate the Corps’ handling of the Santa Cruz decision, at the request of Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Tucson.

• August 2008: The Board of Supervisors supports navigability for a much longer stretch of the Santa Cruz, from the Mexican border to the Pinal County line. The Environmental Protection Agency moves to take over handling of the navigability issue from the Corps.


In the 1940s, the population boom — driven by military growth and availability of air conditioning — began along the Santa Cruz, especially in Tucson, which depended on groundwater. The ongoing depletion of the aquifer is a major reason the Santa Cruz dried out except after storms.

We stepped into the canoe. It sank into sand. We couldn’t move …

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