The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection Executive Director Carolyn Campbell stopped by the KXCI studios to discuss their history and current projects. The Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection is an alliance of 30 conservation and neighborhood groups, representing nearly 30,000 people, that formed in February 1998 initially to combat development on Tucson’s Northwest side and to protect Pygmy Owl habitat. The Coalition includes local neighborhood associations such as the Northwest Neighborhood Alliance and the Tucson Mountains Association, regional groups like the Sky Island Alliance and Tucson Audubon Society, national organizations such as the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife, and organizations with international reach such as Bat Conservation International.
The Coalition has achieved success by finding common goals with Pima County, environmentalists, developers, and other stakeholders. They participated in the award-winning Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP), which is Pima County’s plan for balancing the conservation and protection of our cultural and natural resource heritage with an economically vigorous and fiscally responsible community. The SDCP considered the following elements: critical habitats and biological corridors, riparian areas, mountain parks, historical and cultural preservation, and ranch conservation. All five elements, along with fiscal analysis, were critical in forming a viable land management plan for Pima County.
Currently, the Coalition is coordinating efforts to oppose a costly proposal for a new north-south highway Interstate-11 freeway which would begin in Nogales and continue to Reno and connect Phoenix and Las Vegas. Much of the proposed I-11 would either utilize existing highways or create brand new construction nearly parallel with already existing highways.
One possible highway alignment would be to bypass the already existing Interstate 10 and downtown Tucson by constructing I-11 in the desert west of the Tucson Mountains- on the doorstep of Saguaro National Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. According to The Coalition, it would set back decades of conservation progress, harm Tucson’s water supply, wildlife, public lands, and economy, and would facilitate sprawl.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Interstate 11 was released on April 5, 2019, and the deadline for public comments is July 8, 2019.
The Arizona and Nevada Departments of Transportation have completed a two-year Interstate 11 (I-11) and Intermountain West Corridor Study and are actively pursuing completion of portions with Congressional backing.
Recorded and produced by Amanda Shauger. Originally broadcast on May 12, 2019.