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  • SDCP Newsletter - August 2022

    Aug 26, 2022 | Read More News
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    SDCP Newsletter logo

    August 2022

    This month, we examine Pima County's history of acquiring land for conservation, check out the County's updated plant salvage and selection procedures, learn how a new tool is helping trail crews, and skim the surface of all that was accomplished last year under the Multi-species Conservation Plan.

    Conservation Land Acquisitions: A New Report Provides Overview of County's Efforts to Date

    The establishment of Tucson Mountain Park in 1929 marks the beginning of Pima County's efforts to acquire land for conservation purposes. Today, the County's conservation land holdings total more than 250,200 acres comprised of lands owned in fee as well as those controlled via conservation easements, state and federal grazing leases, and other agreements.

    A new report provides an overview of the County's conservation acquisition efforts to date, which have been carried out using a variety of mechanisms including voluntary property donations, grant funding, and voter-approved bonds. The report discusses the significant public input and oversight that has informed the County's acquisitions and examines the benefits of these acquisitions from two perspectives: are they responsive to the interests of county residents and do they advance the goal of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan (SDCP). Findings show our conservation acquisitions accomplish both.

    Full article

    Plant Material Salvage Procedures Revised

    In 2016, the County developed procedures for salvaging plants before construction projects, and choosing which plant species to use in post-project revegetation efforts. Last month, these procedures were revised. The updated procedures better align with the requirements of the State of Arizona, improve guidance for implementation, and promote more use of native plants from the Native Plant Nursery. 

    Learn more here

    Game Changer for Pima County NRPR Trails Program

    The Pima County Natural Resources, Parks & Recreation (NRPR) Trails Program recently purchased a mini-excavator (small 3-foot wide machine) for trail and restoration projects. Since June staff has been performing trail maintenance with the machine in Tucson Mountain Park (TMP). There are miles of trails in TMP that were not designed/constructed sustainably and have likely never had tread maintenance work performed. As a result there is a backlog of deferred maintenance on trails experiencing severe erosion. These heavily eroded trails are beyond the point of salvaging by work with hand tools - the only feasible way to salvage them is with a machine and a lot of dirt moving. This is allowing the Trails program to look at trail maintenance through a different lens and in a short time has proven to be a valuable resource for maintaining trails that have been ignored for decades. This work is also helping to restore watershed health by diverting water off the trails and into natural drainages. 

    Multi-species Conservation Plan: 2021 Annual Report Now Online

    Each calendar year, County staff put together a report on implementation of the Pima County Multi-species Conservation Plan (MSCP). The MSCP covers 44 wildlife and plant species by prioritizing conservation of their habitats. At the same time, the plan provides a streamlined avenue for managers of ground-disturbing projects, both private and County-led, to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act on lands in unincorporated Pima County. The MSCP is a major part of the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

    The report consists of two main documents: the main body of the report and the report appendices

    • A total of 411 private projects have been authorized to receive coverage under the MSCP since it was initiated in 2016; 224 of these projects have been mitigated to date. 
    • The Regional Flood Control District reported that 95.6% of applicants avoided impacting regulated riparian habitat.
    • Fourteen buffelgrass letters were issued to private property owners in 2021 by Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.
    • Pima County staff, contractors, and volunteers mechanically removed or chemically treated approximately 4,942 acres of buffelgrass and other invasive plant species on County Conservation Lands and right-of-ways.
    • The new MSCP-compliant management plan for the Cienega Creek Corridor was updated to include new areas and actions.
    • Major fencing projects in the Edgar Canyon riparian area on M Diamond Ranch and along the Santa Cruz River were completed to protect species and stream health. 
    • Monitoring and analyses were completed on multiple MSCP species, including Sonoran desert tortoise, lowland leopard frog, multiple bat species, Gila topminnow, and several species of talussnails.
    • The first MSCP analyses of climate and land-use change were completed.
    All MSCP-related report, plans, and monitoring protocols are available online.