The San Pedro River needs your help

Friday, September 27 is an important date for one of the most notable places in the National Conservation Lands: the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in southern Arizona. This is the deadline to submit initial scoping comments to the BLM’s Tucson Field Office about a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) for the 57,000-acre area, which BLM staff began working on last spring.

Friends of the San Pedro River have been strong participants in the process, providing information to their members and the public, and showing people how they can have a meaningful say in how this great river will be managed.

The group has a form on its website to make submitting comments to the BLM easy, as well as a sample letter and talking points to help those who prefer to write and mail their own letter. The deadline is September 27. Friends of the San Pedro River have identified key issues the BLM should consider when writing the plan:

  • The water table that sustains the San Pedro River needs to be protected to ensure continued surface flow.  The RMP should address the upper San Pedro watershed as a whole in order to include the sources that flow into the River.
  • The RMP should recommend that BLM managers coordinate with other local government officials to encourage water conservation, recharge of water and reduced pumping of the aquifer.
  • The BLM should continue to pursue legal protection for the water rights that accrue to the San Pedro Riparian NCA.
  • The RMP should recognize and encourage the designation and protection of habitat for rare and endangered species.
  • Recreational use of the San Pedro Riparian NCA should be encouraged in the RMP, with emphasis placed on developing and maintaining picnic areas, a campground and the two existing visitor contact stations at Fairbank and the San Pedro House.
  • Cultural resource sites in the NCA should be protected and preserved, with adequate staffing and budget in the law enforcement and cultural resource management arenas to make this a reality.

Please take a minute to visit the Friends of the San Pedro River’s website, review the information, and submit your comments. The group has done an excellent job of staying involved with this process—one that has included numerous educational forums and public meetings throughout last summer.

All this “staying power” in the process important; the San Pedro River is one of the last remaining free-flowing desert river ecosystems in the United States. Lined with impressive cottonwood trees, the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area encompasses 40 miles of the upper river. It is an incredibly crucial place for more than 250 species of migrant and wintering birds, 80 species of mammals, 40 species of reptiles and amphibians, 13,000-year-old archaeological sites, and the list goes on. There is also a long list of threats the watershed faces. There is much on-going advocacy and community outreach to be done for the area, but the new Resource Management Plan will have a far-reaching impact on protecting this national treasure for coming generations.

Please take a moment to get involved in this first step towards a management plan that preserves the San Pedro River and the wonderful resources of this Southwestern gem.

Making a presentation at a BLM scoping forum on recreation. (Photo courtesy of Friends of the San Pedro River)

Making a presentation at a BLM scoping forum on recreation. (Photo courtesy of Friends of the San Pedro River)

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