Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Save Davidson Canyon: Fight CalPortland

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 10:20 PM

Maybe you just want to check out what Corona de Tucson Fire Chief Whitehouse's band sounds like, or maybe you care more about tap water since the truth about bottled water just won't go away. Either excuse should work to get you to show up for an Empire-Fagan Coalition Town Hall.

The Empire-Fagan Coalition—those residents who've been taking on the good fight on our behalf against CalPortland's proposed mining operations in Davidson Canyon (a waterway that happens to feed into Tucson's water table—and once CAP runs out—it's what we'll be drinking sooner than you realize) just above Vail—are having a public town hall.

The event is to rally support, specifically to implore you to write to the Army Corps of Engineers during the CalPortland comment period regarding the company's Clean Water 404 Permit the cement giant has applied for in preparation of hauling limestone (yes, it's not just a mineral loved by beautiful ocotillo, but it's what makes cement). According to the Empire-Fagan Coalition folks, the permit is needed by the company in order "to be able to build a haul-road across the biologically sensitive canyon."

Join up with Whitehouse and others on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 6 p.m. at the Corona de Tucson Fire Station, 99 Tallahassee St., Corona de Tucson.

To view the CalPortland document, click here.
Comments can be e-mailed to or mailed to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
ATTENTION: Regulatory Branch (SPL-2004-01399-MB)
5205 E. Comanche Street
Tucson, Arizona 85707

Aug. 26 program:

6:00 pm - Opening
6:05 pm - Welcome and Opening Remarks
Mike Carson, President, Empire-Fagan Coalition
6:15 pm - Speakers
- Gayle Hartman, President, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas
- Roger Featherstone, Arizona Mining Reform Coalition
- Ray Carroll, Pima County Supervisor
6:45 pm - Expert Panel / Q&A
- Lainie Levick, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas
- Claire Zucker, Pima Association of Governments
- Trevor Hare, Sky Island Alliance
7:30 - Music compliments of Fire Chief Whitehouse and his band

From the Coalition's press release:

The battle for Davidson Canyon heated up today as The Empire-Fagan Coalition announced a multi-pronged response to cement and mining giant Arizona California Portland Cement Company (CalPortland), as the company moved forward with plans to mine calcium carbonate in two open-pit quarries spanning Davidson Canyon.

Earlier this week, CalPortland made a formal application to the Army Corps of Engineers, to be allowed to build a mining haul road across the canyon, which runs along Scenic Highway 83. Davidson Canyon, parts of which were recently designated an "Outstanding Water of Arizona", is a major tributary to Las Cienegas Preserve, and a critical link in a watershed that supplies the Tucson Basin with up to 20% of its recharge.

Home to protected species, perennial above-ground springs, and an essential wildlife corridor, the Canyon's vital place in the Sonoran Desert ecosystem is unquestioned. Furthermore, archeological discoveries of objects considered sacred to indigenous groups are located within a stone's throw from the proposed pits.

The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the public debate for a 30-day comment period, and the emails faxes and letters are flying. Mike Carson, president of the Empire Fagan Coalition, estimates that before the comment period ends, the Corps will hear from over 40 governmental and conservation organizations, hundreds of residents, and the Coalition itself.

"Yes, we are outgunned - if you are talking about high-priced lobbyists and unlimited spin budgets," said Carson, "but ultimately the will of a community prevails, and I predict that September will see CalPortland slinking home with its multinational tail between its greedy legs."

Just to be sure, the Coalition has organized a public Town Hall event for Wednesday August 26th, to get out the word.

"The clock is ticking, and the legislative and regulatory environment is stacked against us, to say the least," said Carson. "But the main criterion that the Corps of Engineers uses to evaluate this 404 application is that of the public interest. If you define the public as a few executives in Los Angeles, they might prevail. But we are keeping our fingers crossed and mobilizing all the help we can get."

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