Save the Scenic Santa Ritas

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PETITION IN OPPOSITION TO MINING IN THE SANTA RITA MOUNTAINS, PATAGONIA MOUNTAINS, CANELO HILLS AND SAN RAFAEL VALLEY, ARIZONA

WHEREAS, The Rosemont Valley in the Santa Rita Mountains, Patagonia Mountains, Canelo Hills and San Rafael Valley, Arizona, are currently being considered for open pit mines; and

WHEREAS, these lands are located within and adjacent to the Coronado National Forest, in Santa Cruz and Pima Counties; and also have high open space values; and

WHEREAS, these areas are used extensively by citizens of Pima and Santa Cruz Counties for recreation, including hiking, bird watching, camping, bicycling, horseback riding, hunting and off-road vehicle use, among other activities; and

WHEREAS, the lands being considered for mining are prime wildlife habitat, provide important wildlife corridors, and are home to abundant game and non-game species such as deer, javelina, bats, mountain lion, coatimundi, quail, hawks, vultures, golden eagles, and songbirds; and

WHEREAS, threatened and endangered species, such as the Lesser Long-nosed Bat, and the Pima Pineapple Cactus, and other priority vulnerable species such as the Jaguar, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Bells Vireo and Lowland Leopard Frogs are known to inhabit or have historically inhabited these areas; and

WHEREAS, Pima County is working to preserve critical habitat and other areas of biological significance through the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and the goal of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is to preserve the quality of life we enjoy in Pima County today for future generations; and

WHEREAS, the Rosemont Valley is located largely within the biological core management area of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and within a watershed that drains to the proposed Santa Rita Mountain Park and the Davidson Canyon Nature Preserve, both designations proposed in the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan; and

WHEREAS, portions of Davidson Canyon and Cienega Creek, both downstream from the Rosemont Valley are designated as Outstanding Waters of the State of Arizona because of their value as perennial streams, and mining in the Rosemont Valley has a strong potential of degrading that water quality and quantity; and

WHEREAS, the Rosemont Valley is a core part of the viewscape along Scenic Highway SR 83 and mining would permanently disfigure the viewscape; and

WHEREAS, a mine is not compatible with recreational uses, natural values, scenic views, protection of the environment, protection of our water resources, or wildlife habitat; and

WHEREAS, copper mining in these areas and elsewhere has historically been associated with air and water pollution (both surface and sub-surface), noise pollution and increased truck traffic, road hazards, and loss of land for recreation and wildlife use; and

WHEREAS, mining on these lands will preclude future uses of these lands for generations to come, and will violate the multiple-use mandate of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976; and

WHEREAS, the economic benefits of mining do not outweigh the local citizens concern of the negative impacts to the Forest Service lands and adjacent private lands for a broad range of recreational activities, tourism revenues, and ecosystem health ; and

WHEREAS, the public interests of Santa Cruz County, Pima County, and southern Arizona will thus, in sum, not be furthered by mining activities in this area.

NOW, THEREFORE, we the undersigned do hereby

1. Strongly oppose any mining activities in the Rosemont Valley of the Santa Rita Mountains, the Patagonia Mountains, Canelo Hills and San Rafael Valley area.

2. Urge the U.S. Forest Service to reject any Mining Plan of Operations submitted for mining in these areas based on the issues described above.

3. Urge the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw permanently from mineral exploration and extraction all federal lands within the Coronado National Forest in eastern Santa Cruz County and the Rosemont Valley of the Santa Rita Mountains.

4. Urge the U.S. Forest Service to use all available laws and regulations to thoroughly evaluate any mining proposals that are subject to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, including conducting validity examinations on all mining claims within a proposed mining plan.

Sincerely,
The Undersigned