Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pima County tries to prevent mindless destruction of Davidson Caynon

The Arizona State Land department is committed to the mindless rape of pristine desert wilderness on a grand scale. Its latest effort to allow mining in a wilderness area on the flanks of a 9400 ft. mountain range south of Tucson is a good example of the typical AZ state land department way of doing business.

Most of it seems to center around Mark Winkleman, the department's current commissioner. Since he's entered office there has been a strong push for destruction of parcels of land best left alone. Conservation, environment, quality of life & pollution issues have been consistently ignored by the department in recent years.

The latest development (no pun intended) is detailed in small part here in the Arizona Daily Star. Winkleman and crew have crassly stated that the rape of this part of the desert is nobody's business but the land department's, and that the department is above legal challenges, and presumably, the law. Winkleman is allowing an open pit mine in the middle of a natural high desert area that rises up to the Santa Rita mountains, a lush sky island, part of the Coronado National Forest.

With this fucking moron working for the state of Arizona, it won't be long before we are facing the same kind of environmental devastation that folks in West Virgina are facing with so-called mountaintop removal.

State Trust land was purchased many years ago, to be leased to ranchers and eventually sold, and the money diverted to education in Arizona. However, most state land purchases are now in the middle of wilderness areas or national forests, or have become desert outposts in the midst of massive-scale housing developments.

A great example of the latter is the nationally known 3 square mile mountain biking area known as Fantasy Island. Opposition to the blading and grading of this area has resulted in an official OK to keep about 2/3 of it free of development. This is one fight where Republicans and Democrats came out together in force- mountain biking unites us, the desert unites us, the quality of life we share in Arizona unites us.

After all, true Republicans are in favor of sensible stewardship of the land, and conservation of natural resources. It's the new breed of republicans that's so bent on short term profit and the destruction that results. Everyone should realize that this is the only planet we have, and destroying it, does not, to put it in republican terms, make good economic sense.

A line must be drawn somewhere to stop the wholesale destruction of Arizona's deserts. Whether the sale of State Trust land to developers actually benefits education in Arizona has been the subject of a lot of argument around here. Evidence points to Winkleman and crew being heavily under the influence of developers and other industrial interests that have traditionally contributed to the destruction of Arizona's land.

Law in Arizona states that recreational use of State Trust land OK with a nominally priced 1 year permit. Mountain bikers for years went to the little restored house in downtown Tucson, shelled out their 15 bucks, got the permit and headed toward the mountain biking trail on the east side. A couple weeks ago I went downtown to renew my permit, discovered that the office had been closed down. Yesterday I looked up the new State land office, which is on the top floor of a tall downtown building. Inside the office was a richly paneled desk, deep carpet, and a million dollar view. The glizty receptionist apologized and told me the office no longer issues permits. You have to send the form and the money up to Phoenix now. This takes the place of some folks who used to simply sign and stamp the permit.

This kind of service also represents the new tack of the state land department under Winkleman.

Winkleman, get out. You're not serving Arizona in the least.

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