Target: Todd T. Semonite, Chief of Engineers, United States Army Corps of Engineers
Goal: Stop planned development of the San Pedro River in Arizona, which would destroy the delicate natural landscape and endanger wildlife.
Six conservation groups in Arizona recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its approval of a permit that will allow the utter devastation of the desert landscape along the San Pedro River. The proposed development, called the Villages at Vigneto, stands to eviscerate the precious desert landscape and endanger the river’s wildlife, including many endangered species. This irresponsible development plan will also quickly create a large bubble of overpopulation on the small town of Benson, Arizona, where the population is expected to rise by as many as 70,000 residents.
The proposed development approved by the United States Army Corps of Engineers is a clear violation of the Clean Water Act, which protects American streams and rivers. The project will suck the water from aquifers that maintain the San Pedro’s streamflows, hazardously increasing storm water runoff, flooding, and destructive sediment accumulation in the San Pedro.
“The Villages at Vigneto will be stealing federally reserved water from the adjacent San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, degrading habitat for hundreds of migratory bird species. It will be contributing to more unmitigated sprawl in a watershed with some of the most impressive species diversity in the United States,” said Robin Silver, co-founder and board member of the Center for Biological Diversity.
This land and habitat is at the verge of destruction by the proposed and approved planning of a massive development, which will include almost 30,00 homes, golf courses, vineyards, resorts and commercial buildings. This will create a dramatic increase in population, to as many as 75,000 from its current 5,000. The United States Army Corps of Engineers failed to consider the impact of the Vigneto on groundwater and endangered wildlife who live and rely on the San Pedro River. The river provides habitat for several species, including endangered animals such as the lesser long-nosed bat, ocelot and jaguar, as well as many reptiles and birds, almost 45 percent of the 900 species of migratory birds in North America. The development of this land is clear a violation of the Endangered Species Act. We must act to revoke the permission given for this development so as to not allow this outright defiance of America’s environmental and wildlife protections laws.
To the United States Army Corps of Engineers,
I urge you to rethink and retract the permit you issued that will allow for the catastrophic development of the San Pedro River. This will have absolutely devastating effects on the residents of Benson, Arizona, the precious and endangered wildlife that inhabits the area, as well as the integrity of the vulnerable landscape of the San Pedro River.
Not only will the capitalistic greed of the proposed development destroy much of the livelihood of the San Pedro River, it is also in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. Such violations are claimed in a lawsuit against you, filed by six conservation groups. This claim is even backed up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who warned of the impact of the project. We ask you for the prosperity of the San Pedro River, the residents of Benson, and the wildlife who inhabits this gorgeous natural landscape, to revoke the permission you granted for this development to save the land from environmental disaster.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: The Bureau of Land Management