Contact: Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210, Email click here
(Washington, D.C., May 3, 2013) American Bird Conservancy (ABC), one of the nation’s leading bird conservation groups, has called on Arizona Governor Janice Brewer to overturn the decision by the Arizona Department of Water Resources that approved a groundwater pumping plan that runs the risk of drying a southern Arizona river, the San Pedro, part of which was formally designated in 1995 as the nation’s first Globally Important Bird Area and remains today a critical stopover point for millions of migrating birds.
The May 3, 2013 letter from ABC Vice President for Conservation Advocacy Darin Schroeder asked Gov. Brewer to “...exercise your gubernatorial authority and reverse this ill-considered approval by your administration’s Department of Water Resources to effectively drain the San Pedro River in order to support the unsustainable growth of Sierra Vista.”
The letter conveyed that ABC had thoroughly reviewed the Pueblo Del Sol Water Company’s groundwater pumping plan and “concluded it poses a serious and substantial threat to millions of migratory birds, many of which are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. We are particularly concerned that the groundwater pumping would negatively impact the designated Critical Habitat for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.”
The San Pedro is one of the last major undammed rivers in the American Southwest, Schroeder said, and exhibits a remarkably intact riparian ecosystem. An approximately 40-mile reach of the upper San Pedro River between the international boundary and St. David is encompassed by the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA), one of only two RNCAs in the United States. The BLM has also opposed the water-pumping plan.