|Volume 7, Number 7||July, 2009|
Welcome to the Picture Rocks Digest,
a free newsletter about issues and events in the community. The print
version of this all-volunteer publication is distributed at area
businesses and community sites. If you have calendar events or news
items, or if you would like to be added to our email
list, please contact us at PictureRocksDigest@comcast.net.
The Picture Rocks Digest is a publication of Citizens for Picture Rocks, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(4) civic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community. Citizens for Picture Rocks meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. Meetings are free and open to the public. The next meeting is July 21, 2009. Everyone is welcome to attend. Membership not required, but highly recommended. Dues are $20/year for an individual or $25/year for a family.
"A solution in search of a problem" is how I-10 bypass opponent John Hewitt
referred to the State Transportation Board's
apparent dedication to building a multi-billion dollar highway
through the Avra Valley. Hewitt, a retired UA professor and former Planning and Zoning Commissioner,
spoke at a Community Forum organized by C4PR on June 16. Also speaking in opposition to the Bypass
was Saguaro National Park Chief Ranger Bob Love.
Missing were representatives of ADOT, the State Transportation Board (STB), and attorney Si Schorr, who represents the Tucson area on the STB. C4PR received a letter from ADOT Interim Director John Halikowski declining the invitations to join the Forum, saying that without a funding source being identified for the Major Investment Study (MIS) approved by the STB in December, it was not yet appropriate to attend.
With the state cash-strapped, the multi-million dollar MIS, which is the next step in moving to construct the 178-mile bypass, has been put off at least until next year when a new five-year spending plan comes out. Statements by ADOT staff made at the December 2008 meeting in favor of the Bypass were read so that the STB-ADOT point-of-view was on the table.
Guest speakers John Hewitt (left) and Bob Love both spoke in opposition to a proposed I-10 bypass through the Avra Valley
Chief Ranger Bob Love reiterated the Park's concerns for both wildlife and visitor experience. "A corridor
carrying 20,000-30,000 vehicles is contrary to the wilderness designation. It would bring increased law
enforcement problems as well as air and noise pollution." He noted that the Park already faces increasing
habitat fragmentation, but that, "we still have mountain lions, deer, javelina, bobcats, badgers and
John Hewitt said he thought there was "good news and bad news. The good news is that I don't think it will ever happen. The bad news is that it won't go away by itself and will take a long fight." He challenged some of the STB's assumptions justifying the Bypass, including huge population growth in the area, "That's not going to happen... because there's not enough water". He also noted the increased movement of freight by rail, both cheaper and environmentally sounder. The Tucson Mitigation Corridor, established to allow wildlife movement when the CAP canal was built, is also a barrier to a Bypass.
Comments from the audience raised some interesting issues, including what happens to Tucson's water supply and watershed with 30,000 vehicles and hazardous cargo passing through the Avra Valley daily? It was noted that Supervisor Sharon Bronson and the Pima County Board of Supervisors remain "very much opposed" to any Bypass. State Senator Manny Alvarez declined to attend the Forum due to the Senate being in session, and State Representatives David Stevens and Pat Fleming remain unheard from.
On June 30, C4PR members and Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation staff met with representatives of the design-build team to review construction documents for the BMX-skate park to be built at Picture Rocks Community Park. Pending fine-tuning of the design and the acquisition of necessary permits, construction could begin in late August.
Through July and August, Fry's Pharmacy at Silverbell and Cortaro is offering adults 18 and over a free fingerstick test for cholesterol, blood sugar, and diabetes risk assessment, plus blood pressure and pulse check, weight and waist measurements, and Body Mass Index calculation. A 10-hour fast is required. Call 572-1060 for appointment.
Toads are amphibians that have made a place for themselves in the dry desert. The large Sonoran Desert
Toad (formerly known as the Colorado River Toad) hangs around shady and moist places during the dry
season, eating bugs, and pretty much anything else it can fit in its huge mouth.
With the chubasco storms emerge Couch's Spadefoot Toads from their underground hideaways. These small, warty-looking amphibians have a "spade" on their rear feet to dig with, and the desert speeds up their reproductive cycle.
Toads appear after a rain to mate, and eggs are laid the next morning. The day after that, the eggs hatch into tadpoles. As the puddles dry up, the tadpoles undergo a speedy metamorphosis, taking less than a week to become thumbnail-sized toads. They then burrow into the drying mud to await the next storm. Watch also for Red-spotted and Green Toads. Toads eat bugs, including mosquitoes, and are an important part of the ecosystem.
All toads exude a foul-tasting secretion to discourage predators, and the Sonoran Desert Toad's can be fatal to dogs. If your dog does put its mouth around one of these critters, flush the mouth out with a hose and try to induce vomiting, then see a vet. If you handle a toad, be sure to wash your hands well afterward.
When the Great Depression hit in 1929, a major part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal
was putting the 13 million unemployed people to work. One project was the Civilian Conservation Corps,
the CCC, which, from 1933 to 1941, employed 3.4 million young men and about 10,000 young women on
public works projects including building roads, dams, and national park facilities.
One worksite was Camp Pima, about 0.4 of a mile east of Sanders Road just off Rudasill, where there are still some concrete foundations and adobe walls in this little-visited section of Saguaro National Park. About 170 recruits came for each six-month session, earning $30 a month, $25 of which was sent to their families. They learned to read, played sports and music, and acquired skills they could use after they left. They planted a group of saguaro cacti in a circle that still stands. The Park has plans to build an interpretive trail to Camp Pima. Currently, access is via a hiker's stile on Sanders just south of Rudasill. If you go, remember that anything over 50 years old is a legally protected artifact and part of an archaeological record that should be preserved.
Remains of the Civilian Conservation Corps' Camp Pima can be seen in Saguaro National Park near Rudasill and Sanders
Camp Papago, now Gilbert Ray Campground, was open for one season and was a "preventorium" used to
keep at-risk kids free of tuberculosis. The Bureau of Indian Affairs ran separate camps for young Native
The CCC built the roads, picnic areas, ramadas and other amenities for Saguaro National Park. Nationally they built 46,854 bridges; 800 state parks; 53,000 acres of public campgrounds; 3.5 million check dams; 2,216 dams; 125,000 miles of road; over 13,000 foot trails; 89,000 miles of telephone lines; and planted some 3 billion trees. (To be continued)
The United States had entered World War I and patriotism was running high. Some used the flag to mask
attacks on civil liberties and rights. In Bisbee, Arizona, over 1,000 copper miners were on strike against
Phelps-Dodge. Wages and conditions were on the list of demands; worker safety was at the top, along with
a demand to remove armed company guards at the mines and to be paid in U.S. dollars instead of company
scrip which was redeemable only at the overpriced company store.
Some of the striking miners were members of the radical IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, who believed that "the working class and the employing class have nothing in common." That scared the bosses. Reds were contending for power in Russia, and Red Scares had been successfully used to break unions before.
Phelps-Dodge General Manager Walter Douglas convinced Cochise County Sheriff Harry Wheeler to secretly deputize and arm 2,100 men. They were given white armbands to identify them. At 6:00 a.m. on July 12 this so-called "Loyalty League" fanned out up and down the hills, confronting miners in their homes. If a miner admitted to being unemployed, he was marched off at gunpoint to a kangaroo court and given the choice of going to work on the company's terms or being "deported." One miner, an IWW member named James Brew, shot and killed Loyalty Leaguer Orson McCrae as the deputy forced his way inside Brew's cabin. McCrae's comrades opened fire and dropped the striker.
About 1,200 strikers refused to be forced back to work. They were marched at gunpoint three miles to a railroad siding, stuffed into boxcars and cattle cars, and dumped in 112-degree heat at an abandoned internment camp for Mexicans in Columbus, New Mexico. There was no food, no water, and no shelter. Sheriff Wheeler posted guards at Bisbee to keep anyone from returning. The U.S. Army eventually supplied tents to the deportees, but would not let them leave and made them work for food. Later some of the strikers tried, unsuccessfully, to sue Phelps-Dodge.
It took until 1983 for Phelps-Dodge, with the help of then-Governor Bruce Babbitt who called out the National Guard, to finally get rid of the unions their workers had chosen. Today, Bisbee is a tourist town of antique shops and art galleries and the ghosts of hard times past.