Patagonia News with Watchdog Pete © Kathi A Noaker

June–January 2014 Patagonia News

Local, State, and National News that affects the Patagonia, Arizona Area

Click on the headline to go to the story. We post relevant Patagonia news regularly!

June-January 2014 Patagonia News


Rosemont pays $551,000 firefighting bill

Rosemont Copper paid the Forest Service about $551,000 to cover its costs stemming from a wildfire started three years ago by one of the mining company’s employees. But an insurer for a contractor for a second, related mining company, Wildcat Silver, is challenging the Forest Service’s $380,000 bill to cover costs for fighting a second wildfire that burned the same month. That fire burned in the Patagonia Mountains and was caused by a Wildcat contractor’s employee, Forest Service records show. Arizona Daily Star 6/29/2014


Expert: Monsoon may be late this year

Southwestern Arizona is ready for the monsoon but any significant precipitation may not happen until August or September. But the good news is that means the rain could continue into fall and winter – if the ocean temperatures are in our favor. Green Valley News 6/25/2014


Local students work to restore watershed in Patagonia

Ten Patagonia Union High School students are spending the first part of their summer vacation getting to work at 5 a.m. to move rocks, band hummingbirds, collect and plant native seeds, and hunt for bullfrogs. They are all working as interns at the Borderlands Earth Care Youth Institute, a program of Borderlands Restoration. Weekly Bulletin 6/25/2014


Council approves increase in water rates

The Patagonia Town Council approved a resolution for a 25-percent, across-the-board water rate increase that includes both base and usage fees. The measure passed 2-1 during the council’s regular meeting on June 11. Mayor Ike Isakson and Councilman Jim Coleman cast the “yay” votes and Councilman Gilbert Quiroga voted “no.” Councilwomen Meg Gilbert and Andrea Wood did not attend the meeting. Weekly Bulletin 6/25/2014


New Rosemont mine owner wants to dig by 2016

The Rosemont mining project has a new owner, which could spell trouble for those seeking to stop the project. HudBay Minerals Inc. and Augusta Resource Corporation, the company that owns the Rosemont site in the Santa Rita Mountains east of Green Valley, agreed Monday to a buyout deal worth about $555 million, after weeks of often-hostile negotiations. Hudbay first made an unsolicited offer for Augusta in 2010. Green Valley News 6/24/2014


Augusta stocks rise, Hudbay’s dip in takeover involving Rosemont mine

Stock prices jumped 6.1 percent Monday for Rosemont Copper’s parent company, Augusta Resource Corp., due to an agreement reached for a friendly takeover of Augusta by another Canadian mining firm. Arizona Daily Star 6/24/2014


Hudbay, Augusta agree to friendly takeover

Hudbay Minerals Inc. and Augusta Resource Corp. announced early today that the two companies have agreed on a friendly takeover bid for the British Columbia company that owns the proposed Rosemont Mine site near Tucson. Arizona Daily Star 6/23/2014


Project Aims to Detain Rainwater to San Pedro River Aquifers

A new water project in Cochise County near Sierra Vista will slow down the flow of rainwater from the Huachuca Mountains so more of it can seep into the aquifers that feed the San Pedro River. A system of terraced retention basins are being built in the land leading up to the river, with small dams holding the water back and allowing it to enter the underground aquifers through wells drilled in the basins. KUAZ 6/18/2014


African firm is selling pepper-spray bullet firing drones

The maker of a drone that fires pepper spray bullets says it has received its first order for the machine. South Africa-based Desert Wolf told the BBC it had secured the sale of 25 units to a mining company after showing off the tech at a trade show. BBC 6/18/2014


Seed-sharing program is taking root in Patagonia

If you think the Patagonia Library is just about lending books, think again. A new seed “lending” program held a workshop last Saturday afternoon to show gardeners the first seeds being offered and to help them become familiar with the fine art of seed saving. Weekly Bulletin 6/18/2014


Science workshops offered in Patagonia

Borderlands Restoration is hosting a “Workshop in the Garden” series this summer promising science fun for the whole family. Local residents are invited to come learn about bugs, pollinators and flowers, local medicinal plants, and permaculture garden design at the Borderlands retail space on Third and McKeown in Patagonia. Weekly Bulletin 6/18/2014


Vanishing Water

The biggest reservoir in the United States is dropping 1 foot each week. Lake Mead’s rapidly sinking water level is set to reach an all-time low in July, driven down by a 14-year drought that scientists say is one of the most severe to hit the Colorado River in more than 1,200 years. Desert Sun 6/15/2014


Despite Promised Jobs, Desert Town Opposes Giant Copper Mine

Residents of Superior, the small former mining town five miles downhill from Oak Flat, are firmly opposed to the new copper mine and to the land swap legislation. Superior was built by mining-—Shaft 9 was part of the Magma Mine, an underground operation where many Superior residents worked until it closed in the early 1990s. The other former Magma Mine shafts are defunct; Shaft 10 is a new one Rio Tinto is constructing. Most people in this area support mining as a concept, and many were devastated when the Magma Mine closed. In These Times 6/11/2014


Court Upholds the San Pedro River’s Right To Water

Arizona Superior Court Judge Crane McClennen today reversed and vacated the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ (ADWR) approval of a massive groundwater pumping project that would have drained the Upper San Pedro River in Southern Arizona. The court concluded that ADWR had violated state law by approving the project without evaluating whether the pumping project conflicts with pre-existing water rights held by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect the ecological health of the river. Earthjustice 6/10/2014


Guest Blog: Jaguars and Ocelots in Arizona by Pinau Merlin

Deep in the shadows of the night, a jaguar moves silently through the rugged terrain. Although rarely seen, we know both jaguars and ocelots are here because remote, motion-sensor cameras are documenting their presence in Arizona’s wild areas. The University of Arizona Jaguar Survey and Monitoring Project has established more than 140 remote-camera sites in 16 mountain ranges across Southeastern Arizona for a three-year study. Arizona Highways 6/9/2014


Freeport: Still no Twin Buttes reopening plans

More than four years after buying the old Twin Buttes copper mining site south of Tucson, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. still has no plans for reopening it, a spokesman says. Freeport bought 8,900 acres of that site for $200 million in December 2009. The company has done exploratory drilling there. Arizona Daily Star 6/8/2014


How high will Freeport’s tailings climb?

The tailings from Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s Sierrita copper mine have grown 8 feet annually for more than a decade and now cover 3,500 acres, as the company and its predecessors have continued to mine copper. Arizona Daily Star 6/8/2014


AZ Week: State Wine Industry Blooming

Anne Rancone and Robert Carlson live in different towns, but the two have a lot in common. Both moved to Arizona from California, and both made the move to take on a new career challenge. Rancone and Carlson are wine makers, part of a rapidly growing industry in the state. Rancone owns and operates Lightning Ridge Cellars in Sonoita, and Carlson owns Carlson Creek Vineyard in Willcox. Both of those rural areas are at the hearts of prominent vineyard regions. Arizona Public Media 6/6/2014


Historic Federal Decision Finds West Virginia Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Companies Guilty of Damaging Streams

Believe it or not, no federal court in the U.S. had ever ruled that high conductivity discharges from coal mines were harmful to streams until this week. Everything changed with a historic decision in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia that found two companies guilty of violating clean water protections. The decision was a result of a citizen lawsuit filed more than two years ago accusing mountaintop removal mines owned by Alex Energy and Elk Run Coal Co. contaminated waters in Laurel Creek and Robinson Fork with sulfate and other dissolved solids, adding toxicity to the ecosystem of aquatic creatures. EcoWatch 6/6/2014


Rosemont opponents sue to toss out air-quality permit

A community group and a retired air-pollution scientist filed separate lawsuits Wednesday challenging Arizona’s approval of an air-quality permit for the proposed Rosemont Mine. A lawsuit from Save the Scenic Santa Ritas says the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality improperly failed to consider the group’s concerns that the copper mine’s emissions will violate federal air-quality standards. The suit was filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. Arizona Daily Star 6/5/2014


Mine objection responses coming

The U.S. Forest Service’s Southwestern Region is completing its review of objections to the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine Final Environmental Impact Statement and says it will release Regional Forester Cal Joyner’s responses to objectors early next week. Weekly Bulletin 6/4/2014


New Global Alliance Commits $80 Million to Save the World’s Wild Cats and Their Ecosystems

Environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States have together provided funding of $80 Million to change the course of wild cat protection through Panthera, the leading organization dedicated to ensuring the future of wild cats through scientific leadership and conservation action. The announcement of this unique global alliance was made at a private ceremony in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on 1 June. Panthera 6/2/2014


Hurdles Faced By Rosemont Mine

Opponents of the proposed Rosemont Mine are encouraged by a recent letter from the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to Rosemont Copper in response to its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Patagonia Regional Times 6/1/2014


The Day the Water Died

My perspective on life changed when our well went dry. When I say “our,” I am referring to a community of people—eight households and sometimes more. Patagonia Regional Times 6/1/2014


Why Canada’s junior mining sector is going to pot — literally

More than a dozen Canadian mining companies have announced shifts into medical marijuana. Given that raising capital for exploration is impossible for most juniors, the moves make sense if they want to do something productive. National Post 5/31/2014


Wild cat rips apart plans for giant Arizona copper mine

Backers of Augusta Resource Corp (TSE:AZC) (NYSE MKT:AZC) in its fight against hostile takeover bidder Hudbay Minerals (TSE:HBM) suffered another setback on Friday. After the close of trading Vancouver-based Augusta announced further complications in the permitting process for its Rosemont Copper Project in Arizona after the US Forest Service formally requested that the US Fish and Wildlife Service re-initiate consultation required under the Endangered Species Act. 5/24/2014


New Rosemont Mine delay now assured; Fish & Wildlife taking fresh look at impacts on 8 imperiled species

The federal government formally announced Friday that it will restart reviews of the proposed Rosemont Mine’s impacts on eight endangered species including the ocelot. The reviews guarantee another delay for the mine after seven years of permitting efforts. The U.S. Forest Service cleared the way for the reviews to occur by agreeing Friday to request them from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It had previously written the Forest Service that the reviews are legally required. Arizona Daily Star 5/23/2014


Seven States Running Out of Water

The United States is currently engulfed in one of the worst droughts in recent memory. More than 30% of the country experienced at least moderate drought as of last week’s data. In seven states drought conditions were so severe that each had more than half of its land area in severe drought. Severe drought is characterized by crop loss, frequent water shortages, and mandatory water use restrictions. 24/7 Wall St. 5/23/2014


Ocelot presents new delay for Rosemont Mine

The discovery of an ocelot in the vicinity of the proposed Rosemont Mine site, combined with other endangered-species issues, means more delay for the open-pit copper project. The male ocelot was photographed there twice: on May 14 and April 8, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The ocelot was roaming in a 145,000-acre area in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson where the Forest Service is studying the mine’s impacts. Arizona Daily Star 5/22/2014


Community conflict can cost miners up to $20m a week

Conflict with communities can incur costs of roughly US$20 million per week for mining projects valued between US$3 billion and US$5 billion according to a study by Queensland university and the Harvard Kennedy School. 5/20/2014


Army Corps warns that Rosemont’s mitigation plan is inadequate

In its second warning letter in three months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formally notified Rosemont Copper last week that the company’s plan to mitigate for its mine’s impacts on creeks and washes is inadequate. The Corps wrote Rosemont Copper President and CEO Rod Pace that it has determined the company’s land-saving and water rights purchase plans won’t fully compensate for “unavoidable adverse impacts” from the mine, after it has carried out all feasible measures to avoid and minimize impacts. Arizona Daily Star 5/19/2014


Arizona mining companies face obstacles on the way to striking it rich

Although some companies eventually open mines, it appears some spend most of their funds on marketing and salaries, with little spent on exploration. The Republic 5/17/2014


BirdCallsRadio: Bonnie Paton Moon & Larry Morgan

Bonnie Paton Moon, Daughter of the Late Wally and Marion Paton and Larry Morgan “Ambassador For The Birds,” Stewart & Caretaker for the property of Paton’s Birder Haven; are the next special guests on BirdCallsRadio WORLDWIDE, Internet Streaming & BCR iTunes. Come join us for Part 1 of this extraordinary interview. BirdCallsRadio 5/13/2014


Local Protesters Are Killing Big Oil and Mining Projects Worldwide

Multinational corporations are infamous for pushing native people off their land in order to open a new gold mine, extract oil, or otherwise extract local resources. For decades, backlash has been thought to be both limited and ineffectual, but new evidence suggests that protests from local people are effective, extremely costly for the companies, and often lead to substantive changes to or total abandonment of a project. Motherboard 5/12/2014


Arizona town near Grand Canyon runs low on water

In the northern Arizona city of Williams, restaurant patrons don’t automatically get a glass of water anymore. Residents caught watering lawns or washing cars with potable water can be fined. Businesses are hauling water from outside town to fill swimming pools, and building permits have been put on hold because there isn’t enough water to accommodate development. MSN 5/12/2014


Climate change hitting home, says White House report led by UA

The Southwest is heating faster than the rest of the country. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are acidifying. The North Atlantic’s hurricanes are intensifying. Piñon and lodgepole pines are dying. These and other big changes are connected by the common thread of global climate change from human-produced greenhouse gas emissions, said a White House report released Tuesday. Arizona Daily Star 5/7/2014


Help Fuel Our Pollinators

Spring has sprung, the pollinators are migrating, but do they have enough to eat? Borderlands Restoration and community volunteers have been monitoring flowers on the landscape, and we have noticed a gap in flowers and thus available nectar each year in May and June. Patagonia Regional Times 5/1/2014


Sonoita-Elgin Celebrates 30 Years as Certified Winegrowing Area

“Entering Wine Country” is a green and white sign found on all highways leading into the Sonoita-Elgin area. Wine has been grown in the area since 1690, when the Jesuits and Franciscans planted Listan Prieto grapes in the area missions. Arizona had a booming wine grape industry before prohibition, but it died soon afterward. Patagonia Regional Times 5/1/2014


Battle royal over US copper mine

Friday was a good and bad day for Augusta Resource Corp (TSE:AZC) (NYSE MKT:AZC). The Vancouver company is advancing the Rosemont copper project in Arizona and is at the same time fighting off a hostile takeover bid by fellow Canadian firm Hudbay Minerals (TSE:HBM) launched in February. 5/1/2014


EARTHfest Patagonia a community-wide effort

“The most exciting thing about EARTHFest Patagonia this year was the fact that we had greater community-wide participation than ever before,” Carolyn Shafer said Saturday. This is the fifth year Patagonia has held EARTHfest activities, an event that celebrates Arbor Day, Earth Day and Trails Day. Weekly Bulletin 4/30/2014


Borderlands Restoration is keeping busy

Borderlands Restoration has been busy this spring. We’re celebrating the opening of our new native plant nursery retail space in Patagonia. Our first sale was a huge success and we will be open on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and also on a walk-in basis. The nursery is located on Third and McKeown in downtown Patagonia. Weekly Bulletin 4/30/2014


Dryness prompts more fire restrictions in Arizona

Coronado National Forest officials and other federal land managers in southern Arizona are imposing new fire restrictions starting Thursday due to dry conditions. The campfire and smoking restrictions are consistent with those that the Arizona State Forestry Division already has in place statewide. Arizona Daily Star 4/30/2014


ADEQ, other agencies disagree on Rosemont Mine pollution

Don’t worry, the Rosemont Mine isn’t likely to pollute the well-loved Davidson Canyon or Cienega Creek southeast of Tucson, says the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. ADEQ has tentatively certified that the mine will meet state water-quality standards — with the final certification being a key approval needed for the mine’s construction. Three other agencies, led by the Environmental Protection Agency, counter: Not so fast. Arizona Daily Star 4/26/2014


Official: ‘It’s not a good picture for the fire season’

Lightning ignited a 553-acre fire on Saturday near Elgin. The human-caused Brown Fire has burned for more than a week after flaring up April 13 in the Huachuca Mountains near Sierra Vista. A fire last week sent up a column of smoke from the Mascarenas area south of the border. Nogales International 4/22/2014


Patagonia is Arizona’s newest Tree City USA

State Forester Scott Hunt announced Monday that 25 Arizona cities and towns have received the Tree City USA recognition, including the state’s newest recognized community: Patagonia. Weekly Bulletin 4/21/2014


New photos show male jaguar sticks around the Santa Ritas

A new batch of photos of an endangered male jaguar walking through the Santa Rita Mountains was released this week by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Some facts about the photos: Arizona Daily Star 4/19/2014


DeFazio tours abandoned copper mine Superfund site

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio on Thursday toured an abandoned copper mine in Southwestern Oregon that is on the Superfund list of major pollution sites in preparation for filing legislation to overhaul the nation’s primary mining law. DeFazio, D-Ore., said the Formosa Mine, which is on federal and private land outside Riddle, illustrates what is wrong about the 1872 Mining Act. The Canadian companies that reopened the mine in the 1990s have disappeared; the bond put up for cleanup was nowhere near enough to cover the true costs; and the federal government never got a penny in royalties. Associated Press 4/18/2014


Wildcat signs letter agreement for Regal Resources’ Sunnyside Project

Wildcat Silver Corporation announces that it has signed a letter agreement with Regal Resources Inc. which sets out the terms and conditions pursuant to which Wildcat may earn up to a 70% interest in Regal’s Patagonia/Sunnyside Project, located near Nogales, Arizona. Reuters 4/9/2014


No Facts, All Fiction

By Bryan Junger. As a citizen of Patagonia and environmental engineer, I got a real kick out of Greg Lucero’s opinion piece published March 19 in The Bulletin, entitled Town Water Supply: Fact vs. Fiction. As the title suggests, this piece is chock full of fiction, but I was unable to positively identify a single fact, other than Lucero’s name and title. I enjoy active reading, so trying to figure out which (if any) of Lucero’s statements were actually true was a welcomed exercise. PARA Blog 4/8/2014


Water rates rising across Santa Cruz County

Water in the desert is a precious commodity that grows ever more expensive as witnessed by a number of rate increases or proposed hikes by providers throughout Santa Cruz County. Nogales International 4/8/2014


In another blow to Pebble Mine, Rio Tinto pulls out

The global mining firm Rio Tinto announced Monday that it will divest its 19 percent stake in the controversial Pebble Mine project in Alaska, donating its shares to two state charities. Washington Post 4/7/2014


IN MY VIEW: The Forest Service and Rosemont Mine

At a news conference on the proposed Rosemont Mine in December 2013, Forest Supervisor Jim Upchurch said: “We have a project in an area with more endangered species than probably any other area in the Southwest, next to a scenic highway, in an area with a national scenic trail, a high amount of area interest for astronomy, in an area with high air quality standards, next to a wilderness.” One might think these would be ample reasons not to approve an open pit mine in such an environmentally sensitive area. Instead, Mr. Upchurch cited these as the reasons it took him so long to recommend approval. Green Valley News 4/5/2014


County takes 90 days to review Rosemont Mine mitigation fee proposal

The Pima County Board of Supervisors delayed a decision to accept money from Rosemont Copper to compensate for what the company says is the impossibility of mitigating damage from putting water and electric lines through a sensitive riparian area. Arizona Daily Star 4/2/2014


Town’s letter reiterates concerns for watershed

After reviewing the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Hermosa drilling project, the Town of Patagonia has drafted a document of its own: a letter to the U.S. Forest Service calling for a “detailed and in depth study” of the local watershed as the project moves forward. Weekly Bulletin 4/2/2014


Study predicts little drilling impact

A new study projects that Wildcat Silver’s proposed exploratory drilling in the Patagonia Mountains would have no effect on air quality, surface water or historic and cultural sites, and little impact on recreation or public safety. Weekly Bulletin 3/26/2014


Hiker promoting Arizona Trail ‘one step at a time’

“This is like a book tour, but on foot,” said Arizona Trail trekker Sirena Dufault last week in Patagonia. Dufault, who is the gateway communities liaison for the Arizona Trail Association, hiked into Patagonia for a celebration of the Arizona Trail on Thursday evening at the newly refurbished Plaza de Patagonia on McKeown Street. Weekly Bulletin 3/26/2014


EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Clarify Protection for Nation’s Streams and Wetlands

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act. The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort over the next 90 days, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule. EPA News Release 3/25/2014


Hermosa drilling project in Patagonia, public comments wanted

A proposed mine near Patagonia is getting mixed reviews. With the draft environmental assessment complete, a public meeting was held by the U.S. Forest Service on Monday night. Conservationists and community members for and against the drilling were weighing in. Supporters say the open pit mine will bring jobs and boost property values. Opponents fear drilling will deplete, possibly contaminate Patagonia’s water supply. KVOA 3/25/2014


Army Corps still not satisfied with Rosemont mitigation plans

After two years of review, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still has concerns about Rosemont Copper’s plans to buy land and water rights to compensate for the Rosemont Mine’s impacts on nearly 70 acres of washes and streams, a recent corps letter shows. Arizona Daily Star 3/22/2014


Forest Service to give update on Wildcat drilling plan

Those wondering about the status of Wildcat Silver’s proposed drilling operation in the Patagonia Mountains can attend an informational meeting 6-8 p.m. on Monday, March 24 at the Patagonia High School cafeteria. Weekly Bulletin 3/19/2014


Town water supply: fact vs. fiction

In a recent opinion piece (“Biggest threat to town water,” WB, March 5), Mike Stabile, an anti-mining leader, attempts to link the Wildcat Silver project to Patagonia’s water supply problems. Unfortunately this is typical of someone opposed to mining, who often will misuse data to distort the truth and mislead individuals with false claims. Here are some facts that were not presented in Stabile’s opinion piece. Weekly Bulletin 3/19/2014


Takeover of Augusta would heighten concern over Rosemont’s promises

If Hudbay Minerals Inc. takes over Augusta Resource Corp., it will inherit far more than a massive copper mine site outside Tucson, a potential for huge production and profits, and an equally massive controversy. It will face a truckload of legal obligations and commitments to mitigate and compensate for the mine’s environmental impacts. It will also face questions and concerns from the community about how real those commitments are — questions that don’t always have simple answers. Arizona Daily Star 3/16/2014


Finally Some Hope for America’s Rare Jaguars

Jaguars once roamed vast swaths of the American Southwest and parts of Texas and Louisiana. Huffington Post 3/12/2014


Drilling project focus of environmental study

The Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District, has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (Draft EA) for the Hermosa Drilling Project. The project is proposed in Santa Cruz County, about six miles southeast of Patagonia. Sierra Vista Herald 3/11/2014


Biggest threat to town water

Our municipal watershed is the only source of potable water for the town of Patagonia and over 300 private well users within a 3-mile radius of town. The recent article in the Weekly Bulletin about the drop in the town’s water table and the subsequent discussion of possible water rationing is a wake up call to all residents of Patagonia (“Patagonia considers calling a ‘water alert,’” Feb. 19). Weekly Bulletin 3/5/2014


Arizona predicted to have nation’s second-fastest job growth in 2014

Arizona is expected to post the second-highest rate of job growth among states in 2014, trailing only booming North Dakota, according to a recent report. Arizona’s strengths lie in the finance, health-care and retail sectors. Cronkite News 3/5/2014


Why FWS now finds jaguar critical habitat to be justified

For a long time, opponents of critical habitat for the jaguar have argued that putting it in place in the U.S. would do little or no good for the animal. Their rational has been that so much of its habitat and the overwhelming majority of the jaguars live south of this country, deep into Mexico and the rest of Latin America. They’ve called this country’s jaguar population peripheral to the main population, and argued that there is no essential jaguar habitat in the United States. Arizona Daily Star 3/5/2014


Town says Dollar Store isn’t worth it

After getting an earful from area residents and business owners, the Patagonia Town Council voted unanimously on Feb. 26 to reject an offer to sell some of its land to developers for a Dollar Store. Weekly Bulletin 3/5/2014


Jaguar gets new layer of US protection

Nearly 17 years after gaining endangered status in the United States, the jaguar on Tuesday got nearly 765,000 acres of legally designated prime Southwestern habitat to help it survive and recover. But it’s not clear how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision creating jaguar critical habitat in 15 Southern Arizona mountain ranges and a small slice of southwest New Mexico will affect future projects there — beyond the proposed Rosemont Mine, which the service has said will be OK. Arizona Daily Star 3/5/2014


Jaguar gets ‘critical habitat’ land in Arizona

The final designation of approximately 764,207 acres of critical habitat for the jaguar (Panthera onca) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been announced today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This habitat is found within Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties in Arizona, and Hidalgo County in New Mexico. The final rule takes effect on April 4, 2014. KVOA 3/4/2014


Decoding the Hermosa Project

The Patagonia Area Resource Alliance and Earthworks are working together to analyze Wildcat Silver’s open pit mine plans so that our community can better understand its likely impacts. Here are some of the outcomes we can expect if the proposed Hermosa project moves forward. PARA Blog 3/4/2014


The Real Threat to Our Water Supply

Our municipal watershed is the only source of potable water for the town of Patagonia and over 300 private well users within a three-mile radius of town. The recent article in the PRT about the drop in the town’s water table and the subsequent discussion of possible water rationing is a wake up call to all residents of Patagonia. Patagonia Regional Times 3/3/2014


Unemployment – Why Should We Care?

To be unemployed is scary—especially when one is the head of household and has a child to feed. I have been that person, and I know only too well the frustrations and despair of being unemployed. Many of us, however, have never been in such a situation and know little, if anything, about today’s unemployment problem. Patagonia Regional Times 3/3/2014


Report: National parks shutdown cost Arizona $27M

Arizona communities that serve as gateways to the Grand Canyon lost out on $17 million during last year’s partial government shutdown, according to a report released Monday by the National Park Service. Overall, Arizona lost out on about $27 million during the 16-day shutdown, coming in second to California. 3/3/2014


Birthday of the burning boot

I knew that how I’d feel about my birthday would depend on what I’d done the day before. Which is to say that my feelings about turning 50 would depend, in part, on where I woke up. So when the Tucson-based conservation group Sky Island Alliance asked for volunteers to trek through the hills near Patagonia, Ariz., assessing freshwater springs, I decided to mark my birthday weekend by getting out on the land, listening to mountain water (even a trickle would do) and by sleeping in a tent on a chilly January night. High Country News 3/3/2014


State of the City: Mayor says planted seed is growing

Business growth, infrastructure investment, and the Sun Corridor were key themes of Mayor Arturo Garino’s State of the City address on Thursday morning. The renovation of the Mariposa Port of Entry is spurring economic growth in Nogales, with the city issuing 182 business licenses last year for more than 500,000 square feet of commercial and industrial properties, the mayor said. Nogales International 2/28/2014


EPA considers blocking massive gold mine proposed for Alaska

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it will examine whether to block a massive gold and copper mine proposed in Alaska — a major win for environmentalists, native tribes and commercial fishing companies that have been seeking to kill the project for more than three years. “Extensive scientific study has given us ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed and its abundant salmon fisheries,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a statement. The Washington Post 2/28/2014


HudBay charges Augusta is ignoring “critical permitting and financing risks”

HudBay Mineral Resources today said Augusta Resource Corporation has failed to address “critical permitting and financing risks that cast doubt on Augusta’s plans to develop the Rosemont project.” HudBay issued the statement in response to Augusta’s issuance of a Director’s Circular earlier this week in which Augusta provided reasons why its shareholders should reject HudBay’s $540 million, all stock, hostile takeover bid. Rosemont Mine Truth 2/27/2014


Augusta Resource: Rosemont mine project may get “bigger”

Contrary to previous statements, Augusta Resource Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer Gil Clausen on Monday said the company plans to expand its Rosemont copper project beyond the proposed mile-wide, half-mile deep pit that is the basis for the Coronado National Forest’s (CNF) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (ROD). Rosemont Mine Truth 2/25/2014


Town of Patagonia asking people to conserve water

The Town of Patagonia is encouraging residents and larger water consumers like schools to cut back on water. Town officials say the Town of Patagonia uses about 2.5 to 3 million gallons of water each month in the winter. In the summer up to 4 million gallons. Over the last several years town manager David Teel says their well water levels have dropped significantly. While he says they have enough water to supply the town they are asking people to conserve. KVOA 2/25/2014


Augusta Rejects HudBay Bid as It Pursues Alternative Options

Augusta Resource Corp. (AZC), the developer of the Rosemont copper mine, rejected a C$343 million ($309 million) unsolicited bid from Canada’s HudBay Minerals Inc. (HBM) as too low and said it’s pursuing other “value-maximizing” options. Bloomberg News 2/24/2014


New transportation plan threatens southern Arizona communities

In a major revision to its transportation plan, Rosemont Copper Company is now considering sending approximately 100 heavy trucks a day through rural, southern Arizona communities including Patagonia, Sonoita, Bisbee, Douglas, Naco, Sierra Vista and Nogales, according to the Final Environmental Impact Statement for its proposed open pit copper mine. (Vol. 3, Page 922-923) Rosemont Mine Truth 2/21/2014


SC County now in severe drought

All of Santa Cruz County is now in severe drought, according to a new report from the U.S. Drought Monitor. The report, released Thursday, upgrades the severity of conditions in the county from January, when most areas were reported to be in moderate drought. The exception at that time was the far western corner of the county, which was listed as abnormally dry. Nogales International 2/21/2014


Mismanaging an unpopular idea

How’s this for some head-scratching politics: A state senator from Cochise County introduced a bill that would have paved the way to expanding the boundaries of Santa Cruz County, which she doesn’t represent, to include the communities of Green Valley and Sahuarita, which she also doesn’t represent, plus some less populated but mineral-rich areas of Pima County that she does represent. Nogales International 2/21/2014


Patagonia considers calling a ‘water alert’

Patagonians can expect to be asked to reduce their water usage after council members voted unanimously to adopt “stage one” of a drought plan. “Let’s get thinking about this and make people aware that while it is not critical, we need to do something,” said Mayor Ike Isakson during the Feb. 12 regular council meeting held at the Town Hall. Weekly Bulletin 2/19/2014


Ned Norris Jr. and Peter Yucupicio: Rosemont Mine plan is just horrible on so many levels

We, the leaders of Tohono O’odham Nation and Pascua Yaqui Tribes representing more than 50,000 Southern Arizonans, are outraged over the Arizona Daily Star’s Jan. 19 editorial endorsing the proposed Rosemont Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson. Arizona Daily Star 2/16/2014


Griffin ends bid to move county line

State Sen. Gail Griffin on Thursday put the brakes on a bill that could have moved Green Valley, Sahuarita and the mines into Santa Cruz County. Griffin (R-Hereford) said questions raised on both sides led to the decision, and said her committee also has 20 other bills to consider before a Monday deadline. She said she hasn’t decided whether to reintroduce the bill next year. Green Valley News 2/13/2014


Griffin to decide by Friday whether to hold county-line bill

After hearing a “significant outpouring” of comments on her bill to put Green Valley, Sahuarita and the mines into Santa Cruz County, state Sen. Gail Griffin said Monday that she will decide by Friday whether to hold the bill until next year. Green Valley News 2/11/2014


Saving a haven

Due to the foresight of the Paton family and the partnership of the American Bird Conservancy, Victor Emanuel Nature Tours and Tucson Audubon, along with the thousands of generous supporters, this little piece of birding paradise has been saved in perpetuity. It isn’t always the case that parcels of private property such as this are saved, but privately held land is playing an increasingly important role in the survival of birds. Nogales International 2/11/2014


Bigger Canadian mining company wants to buy Rosemont’s parent

Augusta Resource Corp., the Canadian owner of the proposed Rosemont Mine, faces a takeover bid from a larger Canadian mining company that says it can do a better job than Augusta at finishing the permitting and financing of the long-delayed, $1.2 billion copper project. Arizona Daily Star 2/11/2014


Fitz: Rosemont

When I was ten-years old I dug a hole to China in our backyard. I never made it to the other side of the world directly below me. By sunset, standing in a pit up to my shoulders I knew what I had to do. I wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving behind an empty crater with a mud lake at the bottom. Hands on her hips, my mother would have loomed over me until it looked exactly like I found it that morning. Or I wouldn’t have lived to see tomorrow. And that’s why today I am not an Augusta Mining Company executive pulling down a 6-figure salary. Arizona Daily Star 2/10/2014


HudBay makes hostile C$540m all-share bid for Augusta Resource

HudBay Minerals announced Sunday that it intends to make a C$540 million hostile all-share bid for Augusta Resource Corporation. HudBay owns 15% of Augusta Resource’s Rosemont copper project in Arizona. Mineweb 2/10/2014


Mining Updates

Release of Wildcat’s Draft EA Anticipated. In another ongoing NEPA process in the Patagonia Mountains, the release of a Draft Environmental Assessment for Wildcat Silver’s Hermosa exploration proposal is also anticipated. Patagonia Regional Times 2/9/2014


Town Manager Advises Water Alert

Patagonia’s well water levels are at an all-time low and have been so for the past three months.Town Manager David Teel has recommended that the town declare a water alert and will begin discussion with the town council during the next few weeks as to when and how to begin implementing water use restrictions. Patagonia Regional Times 2/9/2014


Apple tax break bills in Arizona face resistance after lawmakers include loophole for copper mines

Two Arizona bills that would give Apple Inc. tax breaks for its new Mesa plant are facing some resistance at the State Capitol. One of the bills is running into opposition after Republican lawmakers added language to a measure extending manufacturing energy use tax breaks for Apple to copper and other mining smelters. Phoenix Business Journal 2/7/2014


Lawmaker wants to move Green Valley, Sahuarita, Rosemont Mine to Santa Cruz County

Saying it’s what the residents want, a Southern Arizona lawmaker wants to let voters in Green Valley, Sahuarita and surrounding areas split from Pima County and move into Santa Cruz County. If approved, the shift would also move the Rosemont Mine out of Pima County, which has opposed the mine over environmental concerns. Arizona Daily Star 2/6/2014


Supervisors OK formal objection to Rosemont Mine

County supervisors took another step in their protracted fight with the proposed Rosemont Mine, voting to formally object to the location. The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to send the Forest Service a formal objection to the agency’s tentative approval of the mine and its final environmental impact statement. The letter is expected to compel the federal agency to respond to Pima County’s long list of concerns over the planned copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains. Arizona Daily Star 2/5/2014


Environmentalists sue to force Fort Huachuca to spell out water impact or face mission cuts

Contending prior court orders have been ignored, environmental groups want a federal judge to force Fort Huachuca to finally determine how it’s impacting the San Pedro River. Environmental critics then want the fort to take measures to stop that or face the possibility of having some of its operations shut down. Arizona Daily Star 2/5/2014


Pima County to consider lodging formal objection to Rosemont Mine

In a closed-door session Tuesday, the Pima County Board of Supervisors is slated to discuss whether to lodge a formal objection to the Forest Service’s tentative approval of the Rosemont Mine and to its final environmental impact statement. Such an objection would legally force the Forest Service to respond to the county’s detailed concerns about the copper mine planned for the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Arizona Daily Star 2/3/2014


Sharon Bronson: Splintered views of Rosemont Mine don’t reveal the total picture, impact

There are times when looking at a big issue through lenses that focus on many, smaller, contributing parts can mask very damaging effects. I fear this is happening with Rosemont Mine as federal and state regulatory agencies review the mining proposal and decide how to mitigate damaging aspects of the proposal. Arizona Daily Star 2/2/2014


The unprecedented water crisis of the American Southwest

A prolonged drought has sapped the once-vigorous Colorado River, threatening the water supply of millions. Why is the Colorado so important? It’s the lifeline of the arid Southwest. But with the Colorado’s flow now reduced to a muddy trickle in parts, millions in the Southwest face the grave prospect of acute, permanent water shortages. The Week 2/1/2014


Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst

The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply. With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history. New York Times 2/1/2014


Lens on the Land: Environmental Photography of the Santa Rita Mountain Range

Photographers Josh Schachter and Brian Forbes Powell teamed up with the Sonoran Institute and Save the Scenic Santa Ritas to compile a collection of stunning photographs of the region from 30 photographers of the area to be presented at the exhibit, Lens on the Land: Rosemont, What’s at Stake. Zocalo Magazine 1/29/2014


Points on mines

I feel it is important to counter a few of the points made by Manuel C. Coppola in his editorial “Mine permitting takes too long” in the Jan. 21 edition of the Nogales International. To begin, I would like to know who generated the list of “timely permitting processes for mines” and to which other nations was the United States compared? Nogales International 1/28/2014


IN MY VIEW: ‘Star’ should heed its own reporting

Tom Purdon wrote an excellent commentary in the Jan. 22 issue of the Green Valley News opposing the Arizona Daily Star’s Jan. 19 editorial in support of the Rosemont Mine. I would add that the Star itself had the best refutation of its own endorsement of the mine with a two-page spread in the next section of their own paper, in the same issue. Green Valley News 1/25/2014


Know the answers before mining starts

Perhaps we can lay the blame on the length of permitting on the fact that mines are still governed by the 1872 Mining Law. Mining, as well as the rest of the world, has changed vastly in the last 142 years. What hasn’t changed is that gold, silver, copper and other minerals extracted by mining companies are given away for free because of the 1872 Mining Law. Taxpayers receive no royalties for minerals mined on public land. Nogales International 1/24/2014


Mine permitting takes too long

The Rosemont Copper mine is a prime example and Wildcat’s Hermosa project seems to be going down the same sluggish conveyor belt, even though along with silver, one of the main extracts would be manganese. The government has classified a number of metals that are considered strategic to national defense and economically important. One hundred percent of the manganese used in the United States is imported from Southeast Asia. Nogales International 1/21/2014


Editorial may have jumped the gun

The editorial board of the Arizona Daily Star on Sunday came out in favor of building the proposed Rosemont copper mine. Tom Purdon, a Green Valley resident and board member with Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, which opposes the mine, submitted the following in response to the Star’s editorial. The Green Valley News & Sun has not and will not take an editorial position on the mine. With dozens of facets and wide-ranging points of view, we believe our job is to be a forum for both sides, a town square for discussion, and to publish accurate and fair information so you can make an informed decision on the mine. Green Valley News 1/21/2014


Arizona is overdue to discuss its No. 1 problem: water

Here’s why water must be Arizona’s top public-policy debate: Back in 1980, the Legislature finally responded to the rapid drop in groundwater levels caused by population growth and farming. It set a goal for the Phoenix, Tucson and Prescott areas to balance our groundwater withdrawals with natural and artificial recharge by 2025. That last method — artificial recharge — is largely accomplished by importing Colorado River water 300 miles across the state as far as Tucson. Locally, various water users, led by Tucson Water, have recharged so much river water in the past few years that our area has reached the state goal. That’s great, but there’s every reason to worry it won’t last. Arizona Daily Star 1/19/2014


It’s time to move ahead and build the Rosemont Mine

Rosemont Copper has met extensive government requirements to improve its mine proposal, and so it is time to accept that the mine will be built. We respect the laws, though flawed, that permit mining in a national forest in a region with limited water. Arizona Daily Star 1/19/2014


The Rosemont Mine project

Sorting out the pluses and minuses of the proposed Rosemont Mine has taken the federal government nearly six years and filled thousands of pages. Below we highlight key issues still facing this project which would create at least 400 long-term jobs but destroy dozens of cultural resources, hundreds of thousands of trees and thousands of acres of grasslands and woodlands in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Arizona Daily Star 1/19/2014


Severe Drought Grows Worse in California

Cattle ranchers have had to sell portions of their herd for lack of water. Sacramento and other municipalities have imposed severe water restrictions. Wildfires broke out this week in forests that are usually too wet to ignite. Ski resorts that normally open in December are still closed; at one here in the Sierra Nevada that is open, a bear wandered onto a slope full of skiers last week, apparently not hibernating because of the balmy weather. New York Times 1/17/2014


Pronghorns released in Southeast Arizona

Arizona Game and Fish officials this morning released 40 Pronghorn antelope in the Sonoita-Patagonia area to replenish herds there. The relocation was done to replenish dwindling Pronghorn antelope herds in Sonoita-Elgin and the San Raphael Valley, where the populations previously numbered 50 to 60 and 15 to 20 respectively, Game and Fish said. Arizona Daily Star 1/15/2014


EPA: Outspoken here on Rosemont, mum in W. Va. chemical spill

EPA is being out front once again in Alaska, where it just today released a study concluding that the proposed Pebble Mine, a copper mine not utterly dissimilar from Rosemont, would pose risks to salmon and native cultures. Needless to say, Pebble has been at least as big a hot potato up there as Rosemont is down here. Arizona Daily Star 1/15/2014


A big test for Obama on the environment

It’s now common knowledge that, with one party in the grip of climate denialism, the best chance for serious action on climate change during Obama’s second term will be using the federal bureaucracy via executive action. The EPA in particular is the key agency in the struggle. It has broad powers under the Clean Air Act, buttressed by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, to regulate climate pollution. But such an action will require a bold, sustained effort from the whole of the administration. The Washington Post 1/15/2014


West Virginia Water Disaster Shows Need For Strong Environmental Standards

Our thoughts today are with the people of West Virginia who experienced days of school shutdowns, business closures and mandatory water restrictions because a chemical used to clean coal leaked into the Elk River. Chemical spills are not acts of nature. They happen when corporations don’t invest in safety and when state and federal regulations allow dangerous, outdated facilities to go uninspected for decades. Congressional Progressive Caucus Press Release 1/15/2014


Jaguar tracks found in the Santa Ritas, says conservation group and UA geneticist

It’s been known for a well over a year now that a jaguar has been photographed in the Santa Rita Mountains, near the proposed Rosemont Mine site. But only a little more than a week ago, volunteers for the Tucson conservation group Sky Island Alliance found and photographed the first jaguar tracks to have been spotted in that mountain range in recent times. The tracks were seen on Jan. 4, by two volunteers. Arizona Daily Star 1/14/2014


Opponents plot next move in fight to stop Rosemont Mine

Today on Buckmaster – The Monday Political Face-Off features commentators Bruce Ash and Paul Eckerstrom. Also, Gayle Hartmann, president of Save The Scenic Santa Ritas and Dr. Mark Sykes, head of the Tucson-based Planetary Science Institute. The Buckmaster Show 1/13/2014


Journey Stories exhibit kicks off in Patagonia

“We all have journey stories.” This statement greets visitors as they enter “Journey Stories,” a traveling Smithsonian exhibit at Cady Hall in Patagonia. The exhibit opened on Saturday, Jan. 4 along with a locally curated exhibit, “A Woven Journey” in the Patagonia Library. The Weekly Bulletin 1/8/2014


Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States

The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years. The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle. Reservoirs have shrunk to less than half their capacities, the canyon walls around them ringed with white mineral deposits where water once lapped. New York Times 1/5/2014


WSJ op-ed writer blasts EPA over Rosemont

Taking a closer look at the piece this evening, I see the lead has two factual errors: “On Dec. 13, the proposed Rosemont Copper project in southwestern Arizona—which would produce about one-tenth of all the copper in the U.S. every year—got the green light from the U.S. Forest Service to begin operations.”
First, the project is proposed for southeastern Arizona, not southwestern Arizona. Second, the mine got a tentative green light from the Forest Service-a draft decision of approval, not a final one. Arizona Daily Star 1/4/2014


Rosemont Mine – Two Views

Last month the PRT’s front page declared that the Rosemont Mine’s water mitigation plan had been rejected by the Environmental Protection Agency. That same week the Bulletin’s front page featured a story declaring the Rosemont Mine was likely to be approved. Both these stories are correct, but each emphasizes a different aspect of this complicated approval process. Patagonia Regional Times 1/4/2014


Annual Patagonia Christmas Bird Count

The first Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held in Patagonia on December 26, 1962, with five participants. This year, 40 volunteers participated in the CBC, which happened on December 20. Tom Arny is the compiler for the Patagonia CBC, which is organized by Abbie Zeltzer. The 40 volunteers split into 19 parties and covered 176 square miles, which includes the Canelo Hills, San Rafael Valley, Washington Camp and the Circle Z Ranch. Patagonia Regional Times 1/4/2014


Game & Fish counting wildlife during aerial big game survey

The Arizona Game and Fish Department will conduct four aerial surveys of big game populations in southeastern Arizona in January. Game and Fish routinely conducts big game surveys with aircraft, Mark Hart, spokesman for the department, said in a news release. Arizona Daily Star 1/3/2014


Mine plan looms as big issue in 2014

Now a ghost town, Harshaw was one of dozens of mining encampments that sprang up in Southern Arizona in the 1800s. All but abandoned since the mid-1950s, Arizona Minerals, a subsidiary of Canadian-owned Wildcat Silver Company is trying to resurrect the town’s founding industry. The Weekly Bulletin 1/1/2014


Patagonia birding site to be preserved

The American Bird Conservancy spearheaded the fundraising, in partnership with the Tucson Audubon and Victor Emanuel Tours. They have successfully raised $300,000 to purchase the property. Ownership will be officially turned over to the Tucson Audubon in February. The Weekly Bulletin 1/1/2014


Formal objection period starts for Rosemont Mine

Today is the first day that critics and opponents of the proposed Rosemont Mine can write formal objections to the project to the U.S. Forest Service. Those who object to either the final Rosemont environmental impact statement or the Forest Service’s December draft decision that tentatively approved the mine have until Feb. 14 to make their thoughts formally known to the service. The mine would remove about 243 million pounds of copper annually in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. Arizona Daily Star 1/1/2014


Link to 2013 Patagonia News

Link to 2012 Patagonia News

Link to 2011 Patagonia News