Jaguars Getting Help Through Multiple Initiatives

Thank you for a positive story on the success of cross-border collaboration and protection of our beautiful wild places ("Conserving Cats," Currents, June 2). Regardless of political boundaries, northern jaguars are a reality: They choose healthy prey populations, open space and safe corridors to move from source populations in Northern Sonora to habitat in Southern Arizona.

Parallel to efforts described in this article, other conservation initiatives are also protecting northern jaguars. Last March, a privately owned ranch located just 30 miles south of the international border known as El Aribabi was certified by the Mexican National Commission of Natural Protected Areas under the category of voluntary land conservation. The designation protects 10,000 acres of private property for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, environmental education and ecotourism. Since 2007, the Tucson-based Sky Island Alliance has documented jaguars, ocelots, mountain lions, bobcats and many other species; restored riparian habitats; and provided training for hundreds of volunteers and students from Mexico and the U.S. on the ranch.

El Aribabi remains a private property. The official certification does not include any financial incentives, further demonstrating the strong conservation commitment of the family, who have reduced cattle-grazing over the last decade. El Aribabi provides opportunities for workshops, research projects, bird-watching, hunting and other low-impact activities.

Successful regional conservation efforts like these expand beyond international borders, offering unique opportunities for collaboration between neighboring countries.

Jessica Lamberton

Claim: Use of the Word 'Illegals' Makes Banks a Racist and a Bad Journalist

I am disappointed that the Tucson Weekly continues to publish Leo W. Banks' misleading, fear-mongering pieces. I have been troubled by his tendency to slander entire groups of people since his "Navy SEAL Down" piece (Nov. 12, 2009). In it, he referred to traditional Afghan dress as "man jammies." This quip had no place in the piece, and served only to reduce Afghan men to laughable caricatures.

More recently, in Banks' consistently alarmist pieces about the border, he insists on referring to border crossers as "illegals." Aside from the questionable practice of using an adjective as a noun in a supposedly serious piece of journalism, Banks' use of "illegals" illustrates his bias on border issues. He used "illegals" 15 times in "Trashing Arizona" (April 2, 2009) and three times (along with "Tortilla Curtain," "mules" and "bad hombre") in "The Krentz Bonfire" (April 29, 2010). Finally, he used "illegals" five times in "A Dirty, Vicious Business" on May 26, 2011.

Why has the Weekly continued to pass off Banks' biased commentary as legitimate news, giving him cover story after cover story? People who have crossed the border without proper documentation are not, themselves, illegal. Their lives are not illegal. Reducing people to a single, biased word denies their humanity, making them easier to hate. We are tired of hateful, racist rhetoric being passed off as news.

Kate Van Roekel

Pima Stadium Director: We Need to Get the Word Out About Kino Complex

Dave Devine's story ("Taxes and Timing," Currents, May 26) about the need for fields and facilities for youth sports in Pima County didn't mention the county's premier sports venue that is a perfect fit for youth, high school, college and adult sporting events: Kino Sports Complex.

Too often, Kino Sports Complex's resources are not fully utilized, in part because we need to do a better job of telling the community they're available. So this is an attempt to do just that. We don't have to wait for the election mentioned in the column to put these beautiful fields and facilities to work for youth and amateur sports.

In addition to the 11,000-seat Kino Memorial Stadium, where the Tucson Padres play almost every other week through Aug. 28, the sports complex has 12 full-sized baseball fields (five with lights); two quad observation towers with snack bars; three practice infields; two indoor batting cages; two outdoor batting cages; one underground batting tunnel; a major/minor league clubhouse; a another separate major league clubhouse and minor league clubhouse; two lighted soccer fields; two lighted softball fields; and four separate parking lots, all spread over 155 acres.

We were disappointed when major league baseball relocated to a new stadium. While our main objective is major league spring training baseball, we must continue to manage the facility and capitalize on its immense opportunities.

The fields were well-utilized during the spring training season. Activities included the Arizona Diamondbacks sixth annual Fantasy Camp; Under Armour's baseball tournament that drew high school players and pro scouts from across the country; and tournaments hosted by Sahuaro, Catalina and Salpointe Catholic high schools. Coming in July, The Baseball Legends group will host the Cecil Fielder Elite World Series, and the Kino Baseball League will host the Arizona State Babe Ruth Tournament. Also, Pima Community College will play its home football games at Kino Stadium again this year.

But the complex is truly a multi-use facility. The KFMA Day concert on May 7 drew nearly 14,000 people. The Freedom Fest Concert is on July 2, and plans are under way for five more concerts to round out the year. Besides the concert lineup, we have community events such as the Hope Fest, and the Making Strides Against Cancer walk scheduled in October.

A calendar of events is posted at www.kinosportscomplex.com. For more information, call 434-1011.

Chris Bartos, director, Pima County Stadium District

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