Welcome New Board Member – Walter W. (Bill) Meek

Source:  Arizona Heritage Alliance December 29, 2017 Newsletter

In early December 2017, the Arizona Heritage Alliance elected Walter W. (Bill) Meek to serve  a three year term on the Alliance’s Board of Directors. Welcome Bill and thank you for your support of the Alliance’s mission and goals.

Walter W. (Bill) Meek, a 50-year resident of Arizona, is past president of the Arizona State Parks Foundation, a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving conditions at State Parks.  Bill retired in 2007 after 14 years as the founding president and CEO of the 7,000-member Arizona Utility Investors Association, now known as the Arizona Investment Council. Before that, Bill spent 15 years running marketing communications companies in Phoenix, San Diego, and Tucson and another 15 years working as a newspaper reporter and editor, including ten years at The Arizona Republic.

Environmental Study Ranks Arizona Second Lowest Among Western States

Source:  Joshua Bowling, The Republic/azcentral.com, October 18, 2017

It found Arizona’s access to public lands and responsible energy development need improvement.

Arizona Conservationists: Save Our National Monuments

Source:  By William Thornton and Tom Hanagan, Special to the Arizona Daily StarJune 4, 2017 

The president’s executive order to review national monuments could recommend downsizing or abolishing monuments over 100,000 acres designated since 1996. A brief history of the Antiquities Act and case study from Ironwood Forest in our own backyard might clear up some misconceptions.

Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on June 8, 1906, the Antiquities Act gives the president authority to, by proclamation, create national monuments from public lands to protect significant natural, cultural or scientific features. The law was necessary after decades of looting and desecration at Native American sites such as Chaco Canyon. Roosevelt went on to designate 18 national monuments. Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest in Arizona have been upgraded to National Park status.

National Monuments are owned by the American people.  Each of Roosevelt’s successors, Democrat or BighornSheep1FromAZGF-300x200Republican, has used the Antiquities Act to protect lands in the public domain. Opponents of new national monuments have characterized the process as “arbitrary, capricious” and subject to manipulation by “tree huggers” who draw lines on a map, and before you know it, the public is “locked out” and economic activity comes to a screeching halt.

In reality a monument proposal must make a compelling case that the area contains natural or cultural features worthy of protection. For Ironwood Forest these features include: the only surviving indigenous herd of desert bighorn sheep in the Tucson area, the largest stand of desert ironwood trees, numerous archaeological sites and critical habitat for an endangered cactus.

What does monument designation mean for Ironwood Forest?

DSCN0353-585x438Monument land has benefited from thousands of hours of hands-on work by hundreds of volunteers from the Friends of Ironwood Forest, Arizona Native Plant Society, Bighorn Sheep Society, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Sierra Club and many others. Invasive buffelgrass is one of the most serious threats to our Sonoran Desert. A coordinated effort to control it is making progress, but it may not have been possible without monument designation.

Free access is available with restrictions deemed necessary to protect the resource. Hunting is permitted subject to regulation by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. Privately owned parcels within the monument remain available for use subject to local zoning laws. When funds are available, land may be purchased from willing sellers. Land has been donated, but the BLM cannot seize or force the sale of private land.

Historically, mining and ranching have been major economic activities in the area. Grazing leases on monument land remain in force and are renewable. The Pioneer Materials quarry continues to operate.

Outdoor recreation is big business in Arizona, bringing $10.6 billion in consumer spending, $787 million in state and local tax revenue, and supporting 104,000 Arizona jobs, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Parks and monuments are a big part of the picture.

National monuments do not belong to the president or Congress. They are our lands and heritage but will remain so only if we speak up. Comments may be submitted through monumentsforall.org or regulations.gov.  Deadline is July 10. Also, please contact Senator Flake and Senator McCain and your congressperson and respectfully request that they stand up for our monuments.

William Thornton is a second-generation native Arizonan, lifelong conservationist, and outdoor enthusiast. He serves on the board of directors of the Arizona Heritage Alliance and is vice president of Friends of Ironwood Forest. Tom Hanagan is president of Friends of Ironwood Forest.

State should begin its 2nd century by preserving series of landmarks, former Phoenix mayor says: Arizona Heritage Alliance is looking for ways to restore AZ Heritage Fund

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Florence Reminder] –The Arizona Heritage Alliance is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 1992 for the purpose of working to prevent the Arizona State Legislature from taking or eliminating the Heritage Fund. Unfortunately during difficult economic times, in 2009 the Legislature took away the Arizona State Parks portion of the fund and in 2010 completely eliminated the language from the Arizona Revised Statutes. Fortunately the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s $10 million portion of the Heritage Fund remains intact.

The Alliance continues to meet, with its goal now being to get the Arizona State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund restored. At its June 25th meeting, the board members discussed several methods for funding a Heritage Fund as well as possible methods for restoration of the fund.

2nd Century Initiative

Former Phoenix Mayor John Driggs was guest speaker at the meeting presenting a project he is spearheading. Former Mayor Driggs chaired the Arizona Centennial Committee and in this capacity determined the state capitol and other state buildings should be rehabilitated as a showcase for not only Arizona but the entire United States.

He is promoting the Arizona Second Century Initiative that would be the rehabilitation of the Government Mall extending from the State Capitol to Hunt’s Tomb in Papago Park. In addition to the Arizona State Capitol and Hunts Tomb it would include the El Zaribah Shrine Building, Carnegie Library, Tovrea Castle and Grounds, National Guard Arsenal, the Arizona History Museum, the Sandra Day O’Connor house, and the Eisendrath House.

Driggs suggests the following “Arizona’s second century initiative would be ‘Building Harmony’ by applying community values recalled by our landmarks in shaping plans for the future.” He further says “Arizona would launch its second century by preparing several iconic venues to reflect the state’s cultural heritage. Respectfully rehabilitated landmark buildings will provide a lasting legacy for Arizona’s second century.”

He suggests the first phase of this project should be the complete rehabilitation of the El Zaribah Shrine Building. He would like to find private donors for this purpose and is hoping such donors will come forward. Once complete this building would provide a multipurpose assembly facility serving as a public forum and special events venue for state and local government.

Plans for the Carnegie Library would be to provide space for a special civics education center to promote civil dialogue and civic action. This new use could complement the existing uses in the library and correlate to the goals of the O’Connor House which is located in Papago Park.

It is his dream that Tovrea Castle and Gardens, owned by the city of Phoenix, could become the first Arizona State Park to be located in Maricopa County. It would be a joint venture with the city of Phoenix as owner with the Arizona State Parks system becoming a partner. Opened to the public in 2012, reservations for tours have far exceeded expectations and are booked months in advance.  The Tovrea Carraro Society provides thousands of volunteer hours by docents leading the tours and handling all aspects of the daily operations of the castle.

Located in Papago Park, the O’Connor House, home of the first woman to serve as a United States Supreme Court Justice, was moved from its original site in Paradise Valley to Tempe. It is now known as “The O’Connor House and Center for Civic Discourse” and provides a venue “for people and organizations to come together and resolve conflicts or disagreements peacefully.”

Hunt’s Tomb contains the remains of Arizona’s first governor, his wife and five other family members. Elected in 1912 when Arizona became a state, he ended his seventh term in 1933. After a visit to Egypt, he and his wife became fascinated with its pyramids which resulted in him seeking permission from the legislature to build a pyramid tomb.   Permission was granted and the tomb was built in its current site.

So what does all this have to do with the Arizona Heritage Alliance? If the Alliance can be successful in getting the Heritage Fund Grant Program reinstated, it would provide seed monies for the rehabilitation of many of these historic buildings. If Heritage Fund Grants were available, it would be easier to obtain private donations to complete the rehabilitation of these valuable historic buildings and resources.