To: Coronado Forest Officials

Date: November 7, 2013

I guess you saw the news of the horrific accident on I-10 this Sunday between Phoenix and Tucson. An elderly couple from Idaho (my neighbors) was stuck in the resulting traffic for 5 hours before they were able to get to an off-ramp .... thankful every moment that they were safe. This pile-up occurred with gusts of wind of 30 mph, whereas the wind hits 60 mph at the proposed Rosemont mining site in the Santa Ritas--and in Green Valley . This photo I took of the dust in the Santa Ritas in April, 2011. Gunsight Pass and the proposed mining area are visible on the right--and this dust occurred without disturbance from mining.

Dust Storm in Santa Ritas

This type of acccidents caused by dust storms happens too frequently in Arizona. The dust along Interstate I-10 is from agriculture moon-scaped lands, and as we know the dust blows off the wet tailings of the local mines regularly also because mining companies get cited by ADEQ. This type of dust is sure to happen on Rosemont's dry tailings—and how much worse will be the consequences on a winding scenic highway with ninety 10-ton truck loads a day. I hope the FS officials in Washington see the light—and don't wait until we have a rash of crashes and law suits. Of course the loss of animals will be devastating too. Highway 83 is a winding road through hills, whereas I-10 is a straight. Overhead view of Highway 83:

Scenic Highway 83

In the past, I have let the public know with my comments on the ADEQ Air Permit. In the future any injured victims will have standing in the travesties that we citizens will have to suffer. Rosemont's statistics show that there will be in increase in Highway faltalies of 450%.

Excerpt from Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Rosemont Copper Project

Executive Summary, page xxv

Public Health and Safety

When combined with increases in traffic on State Route 83 resulting from population growth, the proposed action would result in traffic increases up to 10 to 88 percent during year 1 of the construction phase (under a 75 percent commuter carpool scenario), 128 to 290 percent during year 5 of the operation phase (no carpool scenario), and 204 to 356 percent by the end of mine life (no carpool scenario). A corresponding decrease in traffic safety would occur that may result in 61 to 107 accidents per year (from current rate of roughly 30 accidents per year), with a fatality occurring between one and two times per year (from a current rate of roughly one fatality every 3 years). By applying the mitigation measure of a partial carpool during the operation phase (75 percent of worker commutes in 5-person vans), the traffic increase from mine related traffic and population growth would be 67 to 135 percent at year 5 of operations and 137 to 201 percent during year 20 of operations. Direct impacts to public health and safety associated with traffic would remain after mitigation. [Empahsis mine]


I continue to be confounded and confused by the gap in what the Agriculture Secretary and Forest Service Chief say and what they do. I sure wish I could take them on a tour of Arizona's mining region, so they can see what our National Forests will look like in the future if their policies to pretend to follow the 1872 mining law continues. (  At the same time that they are urging permitting of non-sustainable destruction by hard-rock mining, they are touting "restoration," "ecological health," "watersheds." In a media interview on Forest Planning Rule, January, 2012, Agricultural Secretary Vilsack stated:

I want to talk a little bit about what is in the Environmental Impact Statement and the direction of the Planning Rule. The first point I want to make is that the preferred alternative, which is outlined in the EIS, relies on “sound science.” I think it is important that as decisions are made in the future that they are driven by sound science. We also need to point out that we need to continue to collaborate with the public with a focus on restoring the ecological health of our watersheds. So a key component and a key driver of this plan is the need to restore, a restoration philosophy, if you will, that is focused on the health of forests. 

And also is focused on the importance that water will play. We think water is of particular importance. Twenty percent of Americans drink water that comes from our National Forests. And we believe that this alternative provides special protections for water, specific protections for water, including repairing of impaired watersheds and protecting water quality. And we think that this focus on water makes this Planning Rule somewhat unique from prior efforts. So sound science is the key, restoration is the philosophy with a focus on the forest health and water. 

We also think that we need to provide stronger protections for our lands, for protecting wildlife, reducing the time and cost necessary and required to develop Forest Plans in the future and focusing on a plan that will help to sustain and increase jobs for income for Americans. That is one reason why we have focused on a collaborative all lands approach to management. We see multiple uses for forests and we believe that a planning rule needs to take into consideration those multiple uses. And we also see this as working in concert with our private working lands and  in our (c s?) to ensure that our large-scale watersheds are well maintained.

We think that it is important that our forests be managed in a way that is resilient to climate change over time, and we think, as I said earlier, that this is extremely important to the ability to create jobs. This is how you build an economy made to last. By focusing on restoration, we think that we can reduce the threat of catastrophic fires. In western United States, we can address the bark beetle infestation and other pests that are causing some concerns and we believe we can absolutely improve the health of watersheds.

[Note: This is only a short excerpt, the entire manuscript is available at]

Secretary Vilsack discloses the well-known fact that bark beetle and other pests are because of the mis-management of watersheds in the National Forests. I do hope that the FS does not think that mining lands can be "restored" with centuries-old trees. I think the Forest Service has better things to do. For example, manage the lowering of the watertable in the forests by commercial operations.

Other Federal Agencies are addressing the need for management of our forested areas and watersheds. EPA released a report in September, 2013 supporting the need for watershed integrity. Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis to the Scientific Evidence

Fish and Wildlife just released a new report  Banking on Nature  that confirms what Secretary Vilsack has said on the wildlife issue. Wildlife recreation is good business, stating:

"National wildlife refuges pumped $2.4 billion into the economy, supported more than 35,000 private-sector jobs and produced $792.7 million in job income for local communities in Fiscal Year 2011, according to a new economic analysis."

We Arizona residents are only asking that the Forest Service back their motto: "Caring for the land and serving the people." As the sign that is posted in Coronado and other National Forests states--it's a simple formula:

Green Forests = Healthy Environment

Current Inventory of permits in process for National Forests to be destroyed by hardrock mining in the West:

Note: The Forest Service does not keep records of the acreage of these permits. Nor do they keep records of the Forests and acreage that have already been permitted and are being destroyed.


Secretary Vilsack
Chief Tidwell
Leslie Weldon
Jim Pena
Jim Copeland
U.S. President
U.S. Congress