dear donors & friends

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AUTUMN 2017 Dear Donors & Friends The daytime high temperatures have fallen into the 70s and 80s, the mornings are cool, and the busy season in Sabino has begun. We often like to use this period before the winter holidays to update you on activities within Sabino and Bear Canyons and ask you to consider helping us accomplish our goals. Please read on to learn what your Friends have been doing. The last gasp for these old shuttles may be June 30, 2018 SABINO SHUTTLE T he most charged issue during 2017 has been the slow, but steady, progress moving toward release of a new RFP, or bid prospectus, for the Shuttle system. A new permit will require the awardee to bring in all new shuttle equipment. FOSC put in considerable effort last spring working with businesses, elected officials and the Sabino community to achieve an open competition, and to draw out fresh new approaches to the Shuttle equipment and operating procedures. We cannot know the extent of our impact on the process, but the Final Environmental Assessment released in June reversed a prior Forest Service position that would have allowed the current permit holder a right of first refusal. e current operator (equipment still in use is shown below) has received permits and extensions for 30 years. After years of a deliberative process and public comments, the USFS is now in the end stages of the lengthy permitting process that will select a winner from among 5 or more applicants. ere will be widespread dissemination of the RFP, which may raise that number. We have heard that the RFP is likely to have been released by the time you read this. Proposals are expected to be due around the end of 2017, or early 2018. e winning bid might receive a full 20-year permit, or a 10+10 year operating permit (an initial 10-year permit with 10 years of renewal for good performance). FOSC has argued for a full complement of clean, quiet and safe shuttles. Our idea of clean and quiet is full electric or at least hybrid electric, equipped with an accurate and quiet narration that does not invade the solitude of other canyon visitors such as hikers and walkers. More modern forms of payment will also be required which will finally end the cash-only arrangement. Unless there are significant delays, we believe the awardee could have the new Shuttles operating by July 1, 2018. e low season during summer would be the ideal time for a new operation to work out procedures and hire staff.

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AUTUMN 2017
Dear Donors & Friends The daytime high temperatures have fallen into the 70s and 80s, the mornings are cool, and the busy season in Sabino has begun. We often like to use this period before the winter holidays to update you on activities within Sabino and Bear Canyons and ask you to consider helping us accomplish our goals. Please read on to learn what your Friends have been doing.
The last gasp for these old shuttles may be June 30, 2018
SABINO SHUTTLE
The most charged issue during 2017 has been the slow, but steady, progress moving toward release of a new RFP, or bid prospectus, for the Shuttle system. A new permit will require the awardee to bring in all new shuttle equipment. FOSC
put in considerable effort last spring working with businesses, elected officials and the Sabino community to achieve an open competition, and to draw out fresh new approaches to the Shuttle equipment and operating procedures. We cannot know the extent of our impact on the process, but the Final Environmental Assessment released in June reversed a prior Forest Service position that would have allowed the current permit holder a right of first refusal. The current operator (equipment still in use is shown below) has received permits and extensions for 30 years.
After years of a deliberative process and public comments, the USFS is now in the end stages of the lengthy permitting process that will select a winner from among 5 or more applicants. There will be widespread dissemination of the RFP, which may raise that number. We have heard that the RFP is likely to have been released by the time you read this. Proposals are expected to be due around the end of 2017, or early 2018.
The winning bid might receive a full 20-year permit, or a 10+10 year operating permit (an initial 10-year permit with 10 years of renewal for good performance). FOSC has argued for a full complement of clean, quiet and safe shuttles. Our idea of clean and quiet is full electric or at least hybrid electric, equipped with an accurate and quiet narration that does not invade the solitude of other canyon visitors such as hikers and walkers. More modern forms of payment will also be required which will finally end the cash-only arrangement.
Unless there are significant delays, we believe the awardee could have the new Shuttles operating by July 1, 2018. The low season during summer would be the ideal time for a new operation to work out procedures and hire staff.
Shade Ramada at Tram Stop 9
If you read our spring/summer Newsletter that we sent by post in May, you may be aware of our interest in erecting a new shade ramada at Tram stop #9 (end of the Sabino Canyon road). The shuttle waiting area at that location has no shade. On a hot day, it can be very uncomfortable for any of us, but particularly for visitors unaccustomed to the desert sun. There is no water at that location. During the hottest months, shuttle service is hourly. Providing a shade break is the most affordable way of helping Sabino users.
At this point we have found that all the relevant parties are pleased with the idea and the design. FOSC Board Member, Esther Holloway contacted a friend of Sabino Canyon, Architect Evan Eglin, who proposed the idea of an arcing shade structure that extends out over the existing stone bench at that location. A shade analysis has found that the arc and the “roof ” height should provide ample shade throughout the year, especially during the months and hours when it is most needed. The graphic shown is a simulation based on the design. A bike rack is proposed on the west side. If the shade structure concept continues to be well-received FOSC will seek funds to improve other Tram Stops that would benefit from shade.
New Signage in the Sabino and Bear Canyon Areas
Those who serve on the Volunteer Patrol (SCVP) as well as the Search and Rescue Volunteers in SARA (So. AZ Rescue Assn) have many stories about lost visitors who have set out on a trail and cannot figure out where they are, or where they went wrong. No one plans to get lost, but when they do, running out of water is often an early part of a cascade of problems that may then follow.
This year, FOSC initiated a plan in consultation with the District Ranger’s office, the SARA, and the SCVP to use our donated funds to help add signs of various types including: six “you are here” map/signs, five waypoint directional signs for trail diversions, and Bear Creek crossing signs to help visitors know the best places to cross the creek through Bear Canyon as it ascends toward Seven Falls. This would also serve to minimize creation of “social” trails – or misleading false trails.
There are 7 creek crossings on the way to 7-Falls. Many people do not easily find the best places to cross. Since Bear Canyon is in the Wilderness area, regulations favor minimal signage. If allowed, signs can be no more than simple vertical posts. If installed, the false/social trails will be obscured with new growth.
As with any changes in the SCRA (the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area) the intention to make changes must pass through several layers of consent, both administrative and operational. The “you are here” maps already have approvals.
Waypoint signs are on track, but the creek crossing signs will be more difficult to implement. In the interest of visitor safety, members of FOSC, SCVP, and SARA will all try to find a path through the obstacles.
Invasive Grasses, the Looming Habitat Threat to Sabino Canyon
FOSC and its partners in the SCVN, together with the Sky Island Alliance (SIA), and Coronado National Forest are directing an effort to meet the challenge of these invasives.
Invasive species, both flora and fauna, will always be a threat to the habitat in which they are able to gain a foothold. The current most serious invasive threats to Sabino Canyon and the entire front range of the Santa Catalina Mountains are the invasive grasses. It’s big, but not hopeless; we can make a difference. A very successful invasive grass campaign, ongoing since 2007, is the near eradication of Giant Reed (Arundo donax) from the Sabino Canyon drainage. Your contributions to FOSC helped to fund this effort through the volunteer work of the Sabino Stewards, and SCVN. This year the SIA stepped in to provide leadership on the invasive species programs in Sabino. We are all now engaged in a much more difficult challenge: Buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris) and Fountain Grass (Pennisetrum setaceum) as well as other lesser grass threats. And, unlike the Giant Reed which only grows near water in the drainages, these other grasses invade all elevations of the front range of the Santa Catalinas and present an extreme fire danger during the dry seasons as they out compete all the native flora including the saguaro. The buffelgrass photo, provided by Phil Bentley, illustrates the problem.
During this past monsoon season the volunteers chemically treated the individual plants along the entire Sabino Creek channel and approximately 25% of the Bear Canyon channel within the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Contract workers, sometimes operating from helicopters, treated 275 acres in the much more difficult to reach slope areas. The invasives can only be destroyed chemically when they are in a “green-up” phase. Green-up requires rain, something we have not seen much of since August. Manual removal continues even in the absence of rain.
Your contributions and volunteering help make a difference!
Sabino Dam Steps Restoration
A big rain event in 2006 completed the destruction of stone steps in the Sabino Dam area that once allowed easy movement from the area above the dam to the creek drainage area below the dam. For the 11 years since then there has been a safety fence and a temporary orange plastic barrier (as shown) to warn visitors away from the steep drop-off. At the May meeting FOSC Board member Terry DeWald posed the question – can we get this fixed? Over the summer, a few questions to current District staff and phone calls led Terry to Darrell Klesch who had done most of the stone restoration work of the Sabino Road bridges along the main road. Terry and Darrell visited the Dam area in late September.
We recently learned that Darrell’s cost proposal for this work falls within the capabilities of FOSC. We had earlier received preliminary approval from the District Ranger’s office, and we now need to move forward with a more specific plan and timeline. Ordinarily construction work within the Sabino Creek drainage poses the need for an extensive environmental assessment due to the presence of endangered species and Hohokam sites. In this case, however, the project is a reconstruction rather than new construction, so the environmental assessment is less likely to pose a significant barrier. David Lazaroff searched his archive of historic photos and found several images of the steps. The one shown is from 1939.
Note: Darrell is the right stonemason for this project. He has a lot of history and affection for Sabino Canyon. Following the flood damage of 2006, he camped up in Sabino Canyon for 14 weeks fixing the stone bridges (aka: vented low water crossings).
5700 N Sabino Canyon Rd. Tucson, AZ 85750
NON PROFIT ORG U.S. POSTAGE
PAID TUCSON, AZ
PERMIT NO. 3341
Phil Bentley, Director Scott Clemans, Partner and Past President, Southern AZ Rescue Assn Terry DeWald, Director Ted Forsberg, Vice President, Development Conrad Grims, Director Esther Holloway, Director Marty Horowitz, Partner and President, Santa Catalina Volunteer Patrol Paul Marques, President, Friends of Sabino Canyon Jude McCarthy, Vice President, Projects Jim McDougal, Treasurer Ricki Mensching, Partner and President, Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists Diane Meuser, Director Sharon Vandergriff, Secretary Bob Wenrick, Director
Video Vignettes Many years ago, FOSC sponsored creation of a video portrayal of Sabino Canyon. It has good content and was well-produced, but in 2017 it is dated.
Sarah Corning of the District Ranger’s office has asked FOSC to consider production of 4 five minute videos that could be shown at the Visitor Center and serve as introductions to our unique park, its history – both ecological and human, its geology, and of course its unique flora and fauna. Over the next year we will attempt to find individuals, perhaps connected with the University, who have the artistic, production and editing skills to accomplish this objective. If you are that person, please raise your hand.
Wi-Fi near the Visitor Center FOSC is examining the costs and feasibility of making a satellite dish available for public internet access via W-Fi. More information on this development will be coming in our spring newsletter.
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Current FOSC members please renew your annual membership when appropriate. We ask all of you to think of us with your end of the year donations. The FOSC runs entirely on volunteer labor. We have no paid staff. Your contributions go directly to project activity.
Best regards to all of you for a very satisfying holiday season, and especially to all of you who share our affection for Sabino Canyon. We are of course grateful for any help you can provide to move us toward our goals. www.sabinocanyon.org
Thank you! Paul Marques, President FOSC