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Center for Biological Diversity - Biodiversity Activist Network

Save the Verde!
Center for Biological Diversity
Update & Calendar July 22, 2008

Sign the Petition
Verde Hikes Sampler     
Off-highway Vehicle Bill Passes
Paulden Protests Strengthen

The Truth about a Town's Claims
Next Coalition Meeting
Opinions With or Against the Current

Little Drops of Water
Make a Contribution

Quiz Answer

Dear Center Supporter,

Imagine the relief to plants, animals (including ourselves) and other organisms when the rain falls. It seems to solve so many problems. We might think replenishment. Secure water resources for all. An end to the dryness of the early summer. Moister skin. Ah, but we still have to work together for a long-term sustainable future. It is not being handed to us.

We at the Center encourage you to find a way to be part of the solution. Attend meetings discussing off-road vehicle issues, river restoration projects, and the ongoing municipal discussions on water conservation and innovative techniques to make what we have go further. Take a moment to consider how you would feel if part of your land was targeted for the Big Chino pipeline or if your picnic was spoiled by illegal forest uses. Think about losing the Verde River. And then take action to make a difference.

Sign the Petition!
Signing a statement of support for Verde River protection and sustainable planning for the region is a powerful act, and can really make a difference. Click here to add your name to the petition.

We hope to collect thousands of names/signatures through the web site and other outreach events in preparation for a demonstration of public support for comprehensive mitigation plan(s) regarding proposed Big Chino pipeline and pumping projects prior to construction to ensure that the Verde continues to support the people and wildlife that depend on it.

If you'd like to help collect signatures, along with the several generous volunteers who have already stepped forward, contact Joanne at (928) 772-8204.

Verde Hikes Sampler
Arizona monsoons - hydrating, renewing, and uplifting whether you're a spade-foot toad or weekend hiker. And the perfect time to get out to one of the best summer oases in central Arizona - the Verde River. Here's a list of our upper Verde stewardship hikes planned for the rainy season:

JUL 26 - Saturday
Stillman Lake and Verde Springs. Join us for a early morning trek down to the Verde River then upstream along the shore of Stillman Lake. We should see lots of birds and petroglyphs, and then we'll hike down the Verde into the new Nature Conservancy property to view beaver dams and the Verde Springs. This is about a 4-mile hike with a 200' elevation change. It's easy, pretty, and cool with lots of fun and information. Pre-reservation required; contact Joanne Oellers at (928) 772-8204 or joellers@biologicaldiversity.org.

AUG 23 - Saturday
Hell Point to Bull Basin. Bushwhack up the Verde River 10 miles through the most isolated and beautiful section of the river. Be prepared to push through the brush, wade the river, and climb around cliffs. This will be a long day, but with outstanding scenery and photography opportunities: a cliff dwelling, a ruin, and wildlife. Learn about the conservation issues threatening this wonderful river. Sierra Club rating B+, 10 miles, 600' elevation change. Pre-reservation required; contact Gary Beverly at (928) 636-2638 or gbverde@cableone.net.

AUG 30 - Saturday
Stillman Lake and Verde Springs Hike and Lunch. Hike down to the Verde River then upstream along the shore of Stillman Lake. You should see lots of birds and petroglyphs, and then will hike down the Verde into the new Nature Conservancy property to view beaver dams and Verde Springs. Return to Little Thumb Butte Bed and Breakfast for a delicious lunch provided by owner Ann Harrington. This is about a 4-mile hike with a 200' elevation change. It's easy, pretty, and cool with lots of fun and information. Cost $10. Contact Joanne Oellers at (928) 772-8204 or joellers@biologicaldiversity.org to reserve your spot.

Be sure to go to our calendar for more hikes through October and visit our archives if you are new to our list or missed an update.

Don't miss this month's calendar of events! We've highlighted some opportunities to get involved to help the Verde. To contribute calendar items, ask questions, or volunteer to help, please contact Joanne at (928) 772-8204 or Michelle at (602) 628-9909.

"Fishing for Answers" Quiz!
Question: Why are native Verde fish splashing with joy about what's happening at Stillman Lake this summer/fall? (Answer located at the bottom of the page.)

Off-highway Vehicle Bill Passes Senate
Senate Bill 1167, also known as the "Off-highway Vehicle Bill," passed the Senate by a vote of 16-7, with 7 members not voting, and was signed into law by Governor Janet Napolitano and will go into effect January 1, 2009.

SB 1167 provides long-overdue resources to better manage issues created by the dramatic increase in off road vehicle (ORV) use in Arizona (347 percent in the last decade). Irresponsible riding has damaged habitat and created the potential for closures of some areas. With the passage of SB 1167, revenue raised through an estimated $20 annual user fee (exact amount to be determined through a public rule making process) on ORVs will help provide funding for additional law enforcement, trail/facility maintenance and reconstruction, rider education and information (including identification of lawful places for operators to ride), and mitigation of resource damage from ORVs.

This "user play, user pay" approach is similar to that used by hunters and anglers, where sportsmen pay license fees to support their hunting and fishing opportunities and benefits. In this case, ORV users will pay the annual user fee to support the sustainable management of their recreational opportunities and resource protection. Beginning January 1, ORVs will need to display "indicia" of registration, which will be a license plate designed by the Department of Transportation.

If you haven't already, take a look at the video by concerned citizen Gary Beverly entitled Upper Verde River, Beautiful and Beleaguered as featured on The Daily Courier's Web site. He makes clear the need for vigilance by all on this matter and others of environmental concern.

Paulden Protests Strengthen
In response to an invitation by the Center, more than 30 Paulden landowners (out of 120 actually in the possible path of the Big Chino water pipeline route) gathered for Gil Shaw's July 15 presentation and discussion "Myths and Realities of Property Condemnation." Many attendees expressed their concern about how they feel they've been treated in this process and their concern for impacts to the Verde River. Armed with advice to confront Tierra Corporation, the City of Prescott consultants making the offers for easement purchases, a band of determined landowners are insisting on full market value for their property and compensation for quality of life depreciation. With media interest and landowner interviews imminent, we trust the pipeline planners will take note and consider what we've asked all along: plan for mitigation now.

We have offered to help coordinate future meetings to assist property owners. Please contact Joanne at (928) 772-8204 for more information and to find out your rights as a property owner.

Prescott Valley's Claims and a Citizen's Response
In a strong point-by-point response, John Zambrano, Citizen's Water Advocacy Group vice president, challenges an article in the June/July issue of the Town of Prescott Valley's newsletter about the state of the region's water supply. A definite gap exists between what the public is told and the reality of the situation. When brought to the Prescott Daily Courier, they declined to print this as a letter to the editor because it references information that had not previously run in the Courier. Below is the excerpt from the Citizen's Water Advocacy Group's June 30, 2008, News and Views emailed newsletter with Zambrano's responses:

PV: The newsletter asks "Are the rumors true?" "Are we running out of water?" It answers "... the aquifer is not going to dry up and disappear. The State of Arizona has given the water users ... until 2025 to reestablish a balance between water used and water recharged."

JZ: I am unaware of any organization claiming that we are about to run out of water. However, as the newsletter noted, water is running out of the aquifer faster than it is running in. Unless we achieve safe yield, we will eventually run out of water. Contrary to the Town's implication, there is no Arizona requirement to achieve safe yield; citizens must demand it.

PV: "This system allows the Town to produce high-quality treated water that is recycled by recharging the aquifer. This creates an almost-closed loop system and preserves water for future generations."

JZ: The Town has been recharging much less than 60% of its water use and selling it for new growth. This is hardly "an almost-closed loop system."

PV: "Prescott Valley is one of the more water-conservative communities in Arizona, using just 120 gallons per capita per day, about half of the per person use rate found in the Phoenix area."

JZ: This statement is true, but the comparison to Phoenix is meaningless. Phoenix may use water extravagantly, but they also are a major metropolitan city with very different demands and sources of water. Prescott Valley's use reflects conservation practices typical of new communities in water-short regions. It has been a mostly bedroom community with little commercial demand. The Town expects per capita consumption to increase as commerce develops.

PV: "The Town of Prescott Valley is an active participant and supporter of the program to reach safe yield. Components of the plan to reach safe yield includes conserving water, optimizing existing water supplies and importing new water supplies."

JZ: The area communities have not adopted a program or plan to achieve safe yield. Such plan would require AMA-wide agreements and would likely need new legislation to be effective, and this has not occurred. The Town has joined a recently formed committee tasked with making a plan to reach safe yield. This is occurring ten years after the State determined that our aquifer was not in safe yield, after much new construction and only after pressure from the public. The success of this new committee remains to be seen.

PV: "The final component of the plan requires importing water from the neighboring Big Chino sub basin.

JZ: Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley intend to import water from the Big Chino. If they do, they can use this water to help achieve their share of safe yield and also promote growth. These importation projects, however, do not address the current and expanding demand of exempt wells. Unless this is addressed, we may not reach safe yield.

Furthermore, importation of water from the Big Chino will reduce flow in the Verde River. Prescott Valley has stated its intention to maintain the river's flow and to mitigate flow reduction if it occurs. However, they have not acknowledged the link between importation and Verde flow reduction. Mitigation will be necessary and expensive if even possible. Legal challenges to this importation are likely if there is no adequate mitigation plan. Moreover, we need not only to achieve safe yield, but to maintain it. The Big Chino does not provide a sustainable supply and thus cannot be the "final component of the plan.

PV: "The project has been carefully designed to avoid environmental impacts at a price that has added about $70 million to total project costs."

JZ: The $70 million is the cost of an extended pipeline. Prescott Valley claims that pumping at a greater distance from the river might withdraw water that does not go to the Verde and therefore will not reduce the river's flow. Virtually all the hydrologists who have studied the Upper Verde refute this claim, including hydrologists the communities hired. Prescott Valley also claims that the delay in flow reduction achieved by pumping farther away from the Verde constitutes mitigation. Clearly, delaying inevitable impacts is not satisfactory avoidance of environmental impacts.

Next Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition Meeting July 23
On the agenda: discussion of letter of support for federal funding for Verde River Basin Partnership studies, update on water conservation programs, update on recharge mapping, update on ad hoc discussion group regarding coordination/assimilation between Verde River Basin Partnership, Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee, and Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition.

Think this sounds like the last meeting you would ever attend? Think again. Decisions are being made about you and your family's water future. Get involved by attending this meeting at the Prescott City Council Chambers (201 South Cortez St., Prescott) at 2 p.m. Agendas and meeting minutes are posted here: www.uvrwpc.org/id1.html.

Opinions With or Against the Current
Visit the links below to see what's up, then take the plunge - the water's fine!

Online Letters to the Editor:

You read 'em - why not write 'em? It's easy. Follow this link to see what's up in the Prescott Daily Courier, then respond with your own opinion. Most newspapers provide comment space after letters to the editor.

OR SUBMIT YOUR OWN LETTER by clicking on these links -
Prescott Daily Courier

Verde Independent

Prescott Valley Tribune

The Arizona Republic

Blogs and More Blogs:

Save the Verde River on Facebook NEW! Try our newest way to keep in touch with the issues and share ideas.

Press Pass


Verde River MySpace

Visit SaveTheVerde.org
And click to Take Action! From the site you can send letters to the editor of local papers and send letters to decision-makers. You don't have to wait for a house party! Speak up in a letter this week.

Little Drops of Water - Express yourself
Download a Little Drop of Water to decorate and send us. Look for new displays including your little drops in shops and libraries around the watershed. Contact Joanne at (928) 772-8204 if you know of someone who would welcome a display from us.

Make a Contribution
The Center for Biological Diversity appreciates your interest and involvement in the Save the Verde campaign. Please visit savetheverde.org for other news and updates. You can make a donation to this campaign from the secure Web site. Please contribute today!

"Fishing for Answers" Quiz Answer:
A restoration project is planned for Stillman Lake to enhance the native fish community in the headwaters of the Verde River by eradicating nonnative fish and restocking the area with native fish. The action would be undertaken cooperatively by the Arizona Ecological Services and Fishery Resources Offices of the Fish and Wildlife Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department in coordination with other partners. Final aspects of the environmental compliance are nearing completion, and the project should soon be underway.

The Center for Biological Diversity sends out Verde updates through DemocracyinAction.org. If you'd like to check your profile and preferences, click here. To stop receiving action alerts and newsletters from us, click here.