I have the following comments in response to Tim Vanderpool's article concerning cattle-grazing on county-owned land and managed conservation areas ("Bovine Blues," Currents, Jan. 21).
It should be obvious to anyone who looks at a land-ownership map of Pima County that the only way to make significant strides in conserving our important natural areas is to keep ranchers ranching—an historic and traditional Western land use. A key element of the county's Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan is ranch conservation, and with voter approval, the county has purchased large ranches surrounding Tucson. State Rep. Daniel Patterson asks why the county has not removed cattle from these ranches. Ranch operators are our stewards. There is far too much land for us to manage with limited resources. In addition, ranching is a traditional economic activity whose importance is becoming increasingly apparent as a higher emphasis is placed on locally grown foods. We also reject the argument that all grazing is incompatible with wildlife protection.
Great strides were made during the development of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan to move beyond this polarizing debate. Grazing, like many other land uses, may have significant impacts if not well-managed. We believe that site-specific monitoring and adaptive management will enable us to conserve these lands for wildlife and cattle ranching. Our challenge is to work with diverse perspectives to improve rangeland conditions so these lands are sustainable and conserved for future generations.
Ranching in the West is an historic economic foundation of Arizona and Pima County. This traditional economic activity requires conservation just as much as our landscape.
Regarding "Bovine Blues"—Cowpoke-pattycake: a term for the collusion, confusion, illusion, corruption and/or ignorance attributable to the ridiculous support of the cattle industry by misguided romantics, politicians and powerful, dysfunctional agencies. Few activities that create so many tragedies at earth, air and health levels would be allowed to continue. Most of them are already illegal.
We need nothing less than the complete and permanent removal of all cows from public lands.
Tom Danehy's Jan. 21 opinion piece makes some good points. The initiative process can be manipulated by big-money interests with disastrous results.
A recent example is the 2006 "property rights" initiative that enables developers to run roughshod over neighborhoods with few avenues of recourse available to residents. Voters thought they were limiting government's ability to take private property for redevelopment and revenue enhancement rather than public uses like roads or schools. They got something quite different.
But before we throw out the baby with the bathwater, let us consider some good that has come from voter initiatives. Exhibit A: the Arizona Heritage Fund, which has directed more than $200 million of lottery revenue to Arizona State Parks and Game and Fish since its inception in 1990. Everyone who hunts, fishes, hikes, camps, boats or picnics has benefited from the Heritage Fund at no cost to taxpayers.
Unfortunately, the Heritage Fund predates the 1998 Voter Protection Act and therefore is subject to legislative misappropriation. Attempts to raid the fund were successfully blocked until this year. Contrary to voter intent, Gov. Jan Brewer's proposed budget sweeps all heritage monies into the state general fund. This shortsighted response to the budget crisis will have a devastating effect on the economies of rural communities that benefit from the more than $266 million generated each year by state-park visitors. Game and Fish will take a double hit from the loss of Heritage Fund money and matching federal funds. Hunters and fishermen are certain to feel the impact.
The Heritage Fund came into being because Arizona voters placed a higher value on parks and wildlife than did the Legislature. Voter enactment of the Heritage Fund and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System expansion is evidence of an electorate with a decidedly more progressive outlook than the Legislature. By all means, let's vote 'em out when we can, but the lack of competitive districts all but guarantees that leadership will remain in the hands of ultra-conservatives.
This leaves the initiative process as the only viable means of passing forward-looking legislation. The resounding defeat of the ill-conceived "Public Safety First" initiative shows that the system can work just fine when voters do their homework.
William C. Thornton
Arizona Heritage Alliance board of directors
Due to incorrect information in an initial version of a press release, plus an editing error, the reception date of Catherine Eyde's art reception at Hotel Congress was incorrect in "International Affection" (City Week, Jan. 28). The reception will actually be held from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5.
In "Inner-City Blues" (Currents, Jan. 28), the numerical power-line references were incorrect. The lines are 46 kilovolts and 138 kilovolts, not volts.
We apologize for the mistakes.