Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tumacacori wilderness sought

[Source: Tony Davis, Daily Star] -- The debate over a proposed Tumacacori Highlands wilderness area swings into high gear now that U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva has introduced a bill to protect 83,400 acres of national forest from Tubac south to the Mexican border. Although they face opponents who cite border-enforcement concerns, Grijalva and environmentalists have lined up a broad coalition of supporters in four years of planning. Backers include four hunting groups, two religious groups, four neighborhood associations and dozens of businesses from Tubac to Nogales. They're joined by 80 University of Arizona scientists who say the Tumacacori Highlands need protection from increasing urbanization in the Upper Santa Cruz River Valley and the Tucson area to the north. In particular, the area must be protected to keep a growing number of off-road vehicles from scarring a lush and fragile landscape, wilderness supporters say. The area plays host to an immense variety of state and federally protected species — 74 in all — and some of the Southwest's most rugged and biologically diverse wildlands. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]