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Lesson Plans

A&E.A:Inquiry Question response

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Kerin Allen (
Thu, 01 Oct 1998 13:52:45 -0700

Good Afternoon, fellow artists and students:
I am commenting on the following inquiry question:
How has your community addressed ecological issues, traditionally and in
recent times?
I have been in Tucson for the last six years. We (the family)
settled in the northwest area because the desert was unusually lush with
more variety of cacti than most of the other residential sites. Most
people up there have 1 + acre parcels that are mostly natural desert
During the first year, we became involved in the Northwest Coalition
for Responsible Development, an organization of members from individual
homeowners association interested in addressing issues that threaten the
natural desert ecosystem. Through our association with these fine
folks, I have learned that our area is actually a forest, yes... an
Ironwood forest, quite unusual and quite necessary as nursery plants to
nurture young Saguaros, barrel cacti and a variety of others. Some of
these Ironwoods are up to 800 year old. As you might guess, we were
properly impressed..... and properly outraged when we saw residential
developers scraping the natural desert down to bare earth to build 4
houses per acre. (Their 'scrapings' were mulched into oblivion.) My
husband became an active member involved in changing local zoning laws
in order to save some part of that precious forest. Not all zoning
laws were changed as the wheels turn slowly but awareness increased a
hundred fold. Thanks to our enlightened press, the developers agreed to
box and transplant (at least) the large trees and Saguaros. Our
researchers found that transplanting the established foliage is an
"iffy" process at best. Developers assured them, the plants would do
just fine. A local high school assigned a team of students to
investigate this promise of transplantation. They monitored four boxed
Saguaros from the time of uprooting to several months after
transplanting. They conducted routine checks on the Saguaros, charting
their findings, finally compiling a report. These students read the
report in session to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. The
developer's transplantation promise was sadly lacking. All but one
Saguaro died and the last one was barely holding its own. The students
expressed great dismay that so little thought was given to preserving at
least some of the natural surrounding. They felt the sacrifice for
profit was too great a price.
Since this incident, the coalition has lost a few scrimmages and won
a few but the greatest victory is public awareness. The coalition
continues to speak to the need for preservation of natural open
spaces. This need will be heard, if not by the adult population, then
by those who will inherit.
So, I can only address this one issue and only from my personal
point of view. I cannot say what is 'traditional' in Tucson but I can
make an educated guess by looking out over the rows and rows of
look-alike house with three inches of open space between them. Who can
say what form of enlightenment must take place for those involved in the
construction/development community to realize that a unique and fragile
environment is right under their noses. Ripe for preservation, not for
the picking!
Kerin Allen

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