Archive for August, 2008

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Responds

August 28, 2008

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) replies to our request not to block jaguar movement between the U.S. and Mexico.

We recently wrote to Michael Chertoff, Secretary of DHS, requesting that the agency ensure the movement of jaguars between the U.S. and Mexico by avoiding construction of an impenetrable fence in key wildlife corridors.  We received a letter of reply from Gregory Giddens, Executive Director, of DHS’s Secure Border Initiative (click below to read the letter).

The letter argues with rather peculiar logic that because there are few jaguars left in the United States we need not worry about blocking key wildlife travel corridors between the US and Mexico. But how else can  jaguars naturally rebuild their numbers in Arizona and New Mexico if the animals are not allowed to disperse into the U.S. from nearby Sonora, Mexico?

Mr. Giddens assures us that DHS will work to minimize impacts to jaguars — but provides no specifics.

In short, the DHS has rejected our request that it allow the movement of jaguars between the U.S. and Mexico by not building a pedestrian-type fence in key wildlife movement corridors along the border.

This means that the decision to go ahead with fencing that will block the jaguar and other wildlife will have to be overturned politically with the arrival of a new president and congress in 2009. You and I, all of us who care about jaguars and other wildlife, indeed have work cut out. Get ready…our voices need to be heard!

Our letter: chertoff_letter6-27-08

DHS reply: dhsreply



From Politicians

August 14, 2008

Post comments from elected officials and candidates for office regarding their support (or lack thereof) for protecting jaguar habitat and our natural environment.

We’ll start out with comments we receive from candidates running for office in 2008 in our own Cochise County, AZ.

From Sharon Thomas, Democratic Candidate for Cochise County Board of Supervisors, October 20, 2008:

“I was actually very excited [to hear from you] because of the jaguar connection…My major concern is protecting our quality of life– this means many things, but I am focusing on keeping rural areas rural, controlling sprawl, keeping density near urban areas that have the support for that growth, protecting our natural resources, and bringing in clean green industries such as solar, not just solar energy providers, but also facilities that manufacture solar panels and other products. I also am concerned that our supervisors aren’t listening to the residents and aren’t voting the way we want– in a way that will protect the county.”

From Richard Seale, Republican Candidate for Cochise County Board of Supervisors, October 20, 2008:

“Cochise County is fortunate for the amount of  open spaces that we still have and thankfully most is not at immediate risk. Although the current downturn in building has given us some breathing room, we are still faced with the risks of long time ranching families that cannot afford to keep their properties in agriculture and are looking at the dollars that developers can offer. Cochise County does not have the financial resources or tax base that Pima County has and cannot afford the aggressive conservation program that Pima started several years ago. Cochise County is still struggling to meet some of the basic governmental duties like law enforcement and roads and until those can be adequately dealt with, it would be very hard to support the type of program that Pima has. With that said, there are ways that we can help preserve our open spaces, which could include zoning incentives to encourage property owners from splitting their property. Property tax incentives for conservation easements is another way that could also help keep private lands from being split or sold for development. This is a discussion that will be going on for sometime and hopefully we can come up with some innovative ways to protect our open spaces without taking on any additional financial burden or threaten private property rights.

From state representative Manny Alvarez, Democratic Candidate for State Senator (District 25), October 22, 2008:

“I would like to hear more on protecting our natural landscapes in our [Cochise] county. I will do what ever needs to be done as far as legislation…I would like to meet in the near future so we can start planning. I do like the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.”

From Patricia Fleming, Democratic Candidate for Arizona State Representative (District 25), August 13, 2008:
“Thank you for writing about this [jaguar] project!  How exciting! I quickly looked at your website… it is very informative and the pictures are wonderful. I greatly appreciate your efforts and am especially glad to see you speak out against urban sprawl.  I totally agree with your concerns on excessive development.”
From Richard Boyer, Democratic Candidate for Arizona State Representative, (District 25), August 14, 2008:
“Thank you for your e-mail.  In this regard, I have just finished visiting your [jaguar] website as you suggested and am impressed with and complement you and your group on this very important effort. I am also very impressed with Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (which as you are probably aware is also part of the LD – 25).  Accordingly, in answer to your question – YES I am in favor of and would encourage a similar plan for Cochise County.”

Protecting Habitat Corridors: Arizona Workshops

August 7, 2008


“Who should come to these workshops? We want planners, developers, biologists, environmental activists, malcontents, skeptics, and others – as long as each participant is genuinely interested in conserving [habitat] connectivity. Broad participation will help us create tools that make sense for everyone. More important, it will get everyone focused on our common interest in conserving wildland connectivity rather than our diverse positions promoting or opposing particular projects.”

Paul Beier, Northern Arizona University, School of Forestry, Flagstaff AZ 86011-5018

These workshops can be extremely useful for working to protect jaguar habitat linkages.