A Stealth Attack On Our Natural Heritage

This article first appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on July 24, 2018.

At this time last year, Ironwood Forest was undergoing the executive ordered “review” of all national monuments over 100,000 acres designated since 2000.  Read more…



Opposition to the Proposed Interstate I-11

The Arizona Department of Transportation is studying alternative routes for a new Interstate 11 highway. Their apparently favored route through Avra Valley would cut between the IFNM and Saguaro NP, Tucson Mountain Park and Tribal Lands. Such a route would seriously interrupt wildlife migration and add several kinds of pollution to these public lands. If the added traffic capacity is indeed warranted, we favor ADOT expanding the exiting I-10 corridor.

Pros and Cons of the Proposed Interstate, September 2018
Press Release Update, August 2018
Friends of the Ironwood Forest Letter of Opposition to I-11
I-11 Public Information Meetings
I-11 Coalition for Sonoran Desert ProtectionLetter to ADOT, June 2017
I-11 Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection Letter to ADOT, July 2016
I-11 Meeting Flyer
A Letter from the Avra Valley Coalition
ADOT Submission Statement on the Proposed I-11 Routes


Yesterday, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona proposed a last minute amendment, to the Department of Interior appropriations bill, that would cut off funding for the IFNM. His simple-minded amendment can be viewed by clicking here.
Last year, as you all know, the DOI “reviewed” 27 national monuments, including the Ironwood Forest. The IFNM, due in no small part to your comments and actions, was left untouched and unchanged. 
This last-ditch effort by a congressional representative to assuage a couple of his supporters is inappropriate, damaging and unfounded. 
We need you to let your representative in congress know how much you are against this Gosar amendment. It may come up for a vote tomorrow, so time is of the essence.
In particular, calls to these two Arizona representatives may be most effective:
Martha McSally at 202-225-2542
Kyrsten Senima at 202-225-9888

Get Involved in Mid-Terms

The current administration has been attacking national monuments, with tacit support from the current congress. The public has spoken, and has had some impact, but our government’s denial of climate change continues, the effort to shrink two national monuments continues, the cutting of park staff and budgets continues, allowing exploration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge continues, and the threat to the Antiquities Act itself remains. 

However, this is the year of the mid-term elections. It is an understatement to say it will be interesting to see if these elections affect the nature of congress. All 435 seats in the house and one-third of the 100 senate seats are up for a fresh evaluation by the electorate. 

As the election season heats up, there may be a number of opportunities for us all to ask questions of those running for these seats, prior to the primaries and then later, for the seats themselves. I thought it would be interesting to list some questions that one might consider asking in some of these open meetings and quorums that will be occurring around in our vicinity. 

1) Do you think the climate is warming or do you deny it? If you agree it’s warming, what will you do about it? 

2) Do you think the USA should support the Paris Climate Accord? If yes, how will you try to make this happen?

3) Do you support the continued permanent protection of all of our existing national parks, national monuments, and wildlife refuges? If yes, what will you do about it when elected? Do you favor drilling in the ANWR?

4) Do you know what the Antiquities Act of 1906 says? Do you support letting this law stand or would you favor limiting it in any way? 

5) Do you know that the Department of the Interior is cutting their budget for public lands staff and devoting more resources to support energy exploration? Do you think this is appropriate or not? If inappropriate, since congress has the final say on spending, what will you do to change Interior’s budget priorities?

6) Do you know that the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976 gives congress authority over the use and management of public lands? If yes, what would you do regarding the protection of existing national monuments? 

What would you do to protect Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante from Trumps executive order to shrink them?

7) Would you consider legislative action to create or expand any national parks, national monuments, or wildlife refuges? 

Thanks to all for your actions related to protecting the Ironwood Forest National Monument and other public lands. And thanks to you for any and all of your renewed efforts to be heard as this mid-term year unfolds. 

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Desert Bighorn Sheep Update

Arizona desert bighorn sheep thrive with help of conservationists – and hunters

Gabriel Sandler | Cronkite News
Thursday, March 22, 2018
MARANA – After a two-hour hike through rocky, cactus-studded terrain west of Marana – with a left knee that no longer bends – 70-year-old Joe Sheehey arrived at Silverbell Peak and spotted an Arizona desert bighorn sheep.

The ram stood at the edge of the summit, read more …

Trump Takes Action to Dismantle Two National Monuments

Our national monuments are for all Americans. But today President Trump took executive action to dismantle two national treasures: Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah. Not only will this destroy these gifts to future generations, but it could decimate local economies dependent on tourism, result in destruction of important archaeological sites and scientific resources, and put access to our public lands at risk. Attacks on our national monuments are attacks on all public lands and oceans.

Your voice is needed again to fight the largest attack on protected areas in U.S. history. Take action at

Harris Hawk Release

A Harris Hawk was released after last week’s press conference which Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) hosted with local environmental advocates highlighting the threat to Ironwood Forest National Monument and other national monuments across the country.

Left to right: Representative from Liberty Wildlife, Maria Klucarova from Supervisor Bronson’s office, Verlon Jose who is the Vice Chair Tohono O’odham Nation.

You can also view a video of the press conference by clicking here.

Fact v. Fiction

Bill Thornton separates fact from fiction in a letter published July 25 in the Arizona Daily Star. Bill addresses statements made by the Congressional Western Caucus, which includes three Arizona Congressman. Read Bill’s article here. Covered in the article are highlights from the letter the Caucus sent to Interior Secretary Zinke. Bill debunks statements such as the false implication that ranchers with grazing leases have concerns over access, that off highway vehicles are prohibited and that the monument has resulted in a loss of revenue for K-12 education.

Arizona Conservationists: Save our National Monuments

The Arizona Daily Star ran an article on Sunday, June 4 called Arizona Conservationists: Save our National Monuments. The article was by William Thornton, the Friends of Ironwood Forest (FIF) Vice President and Tom Hannagan, FIF President.  The article covers the history of how the Ironwood Forest National Monument achieved its designation, how the monument land has benefited from thousands of hours of hands-on work by hundreds of volunteers and information on how to make your voice heard in protest to the threat to our national monuments. Read the article here.