Ironwood Forest National Monument: Environmentalists call for trail blocking despite provision that existing mining rights, grazing privileges be honored

Friday, August 29, 2003

Tucson Citizen

Tucson, AZ - Tucson-area conservationists point to a deteriorating state at Ironwood Forest National Monument and a need to improve conservation efforts in the area.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., joined a series of speakers last night to address the public on what they see as problems with camping, off-roading and other activity in the area.

The monument, covering 129,000 acres near the Silverbell Mountains northwest of Tucson, has hundreds of plant and animal species.

Grijalva, a supporter of the monument, which is in his district, pointed to the need for balancing public use with maintaining natural splendor.

"It's not an 'either-or' plan," Grijalva said in an interview after he spoke at the meeting. "There is a need to fight the forces in Congress."

He said people in Arizona should have a greater voice in the direction of the monument's future.

Environmentalists at the talk called for blocking trails used by vehicles and providing increased law enforcement presence, especially to monitor trash left by campers and immigrants.

Some also called for a management plan to monitor habitat quality for species.

While Grijalva did not have specific information on funding for conservation efforts, he noted a "lack of resources" to help fix problems.

The monument is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

When the monument was designated by then-President Clinton in 2000, a provision in the proclamation required that existing mining rights and grazing privileges be honored. The monument got unanimous support then from the Pima County Board of Supervisors.


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