Last week's Skinny was long on assumptions and short on facts. I have to disagree with the Skinny's description of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection (CSDP) as "... desperately needing a fundraising dynamo" to replace its executive director and its characterization of Tucson environmentalists as "unrealistic", "invisible", and needing "big toys to play with the big boys". One person's belief that ".... the group needs several million dollars to get public support for the SDCP" isn't proven, nor is the Skinny's assertion that the job of the executive director of the CSDP should be "fundraising, fundraising and fundraising".
In fact, the Skinny, which is usually quite good at getting at the essence of the political process, is somehow ignorant of the success of the CSDP in carrying out its mission, which is providing science-based analysis of the Sonoran desert ecosystems and their health and the threats to them, and providing recommendations for protection and recovery of the greatest amount of land and the inherent biota. In this capacity, the CSDP has a seat at the table in the planning of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan and an ongoing, good working relationship with the county administrator's office and the Board of Supervisors.
It is correct that the CSDP does not employ lobbyists to compete with the infinitely deeper pockets of the growth lobby at the level of state government, but you ignore the strength and influence of its member organizations. One was a conduit for hundreds of phone calls and more than 900 faxes in forty-eight hours to various state senators and house members expressing concern with HB 2362 which was ultimately killed. As well, the Coalition was responsible for getting city, town and county officials all over the state to forcefully oppose this bill. It is safe to say, therefore, that the CSDP played a large and important role in its demise and it shows that no well-paid environmental lobbyists were required.
The important issue at this time is HB 2524, which has replaced HB 2362 and is equally onerous or worse. The CSDP and its members will continue to be actively involved, to study and make recommendations regarding the protection of the sensitive lands in addition to raising their many individual voices when confronted by "legislators for hire" who would undermine Pima County's right to plan its growth while fulfilling its moral obligation to not cause unnecessary, avoidable harm to the natural landscape.
Director of Center for Environmental Ethics and member of Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection